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Vaas delights in aces of pace

Northants Cricket

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Chaminda Vaas is Sri Lanka’s champion fast bowler and he remains a champion of that art.

The left-armer amassed 355 wickets in 111 Tests, still more than any other Sri Lanka seamer, before retiring from that format in July 2009.

At 38, 1996 World Cup-winner Vaas is in his 22nd year of senior cricket and about to begin his third season with Northamptonshire.

He still has a keen interest in the fortunes of Sri Lanka, whom he naturally favours. However, he wants to see seam bowling flourish in the difficult conditions of his homeland for any team playing there.

As such, Vaas took pleasure from James Anderson’s five-wicket haul and watching Sri Lanka’s seamers, Chanaka Welegedara and Suranga Lakmal, troubling England’s top order in the first innings of last week’s first Test at Galle.

Although Welegedara has been ruled out of the second Test, Vaas also has no qualms about Dhammika Prasad coming in as replacement.

“We have enough strength in Sri Lanka, but fast bowlers should learn how to bowl in the sub-continent,” Vaas told ecb.co.uk.

“It’s not easy with the heat and all. They should learn from the seniors and when they have opportunities talk and find out how to bowl in these conditions.

Mahela Jayawardene & James Anderson

“I’m very pleased to see that Anderson got five wickets. It’s not easy on a spin wicket,” said Chaminda Vaas, whose 335 Test wickets remain more than any Sri Lanka seamer

“I’m very pleased to see that Anderson got five wickets. It’s not easy on a spin wicket and I’m very happy with the effort he has put in in the first Test.”

Vaas’ belief that Sri Lanka’s seamers must develop applies equally to their spinners, currently Rangana Herath and Suraj Randiv who shared 18 wickets in the 75-run win at Galle.

“They have to learn. We can’t produce another (Muttiah) Muralitharan,” Vaas continued.

“He’s a match-winning bowler, Rangana Herath. He has to learn from the past and learn to be the number-one bowler in the world. He is improving game by game and he has a long way to go.”

While enthused to see Herath and Randiv in the wickets, Vaas believes England played a part in their downfall - notably in their first-innings 193 all out.

A seventh Test century for Jonathan Trott, who shared an encouraging second-innings stand with Matt Prior, should show the tourists how to bat in Sri Lanka according to Vaas.

“England didn’t bat well in the first innings,” he said. “If they scored more than 250 they had a chance.

“Sri Lanka in the second innings, 170 for nine, they were able to get 200 all out. They had a good lead.

“England batted very well in the second innings, Trott and Prior, but they need to have patience in the sub-continent and bat well against spinners.”

Vaas certainly expects the tourists to come back strongly at Colombo where they must win to stay top of the Test rankings.

“I always believe England are fighters and they are strong-headed people,” he added. “England will give a good game and they will try to win in the sub-continent.”

As for Sri Lanka, who last week won their first home Test since Muralitharan’s last in July 2010, Vaas sees promise from young players whom he hopes can take the world by storm as he and his team-mates did in 1996.

“Sri Lanka had a very rough patch after the (2011) World Cup but they seem to be coming up, blooding a lot of youngsters,” he said.

“They have to bend their back and learn from the seniors, but hopefully Sri Lanka will come up again like we played in ’96-97.”

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