Double hat-trick VAAS : was priesthood’s loss and cricket’s God Given gain | Daily News

Double hat-trick VAAS : was priesthood’s loss and cricket’s God Given gain

Chaminda Vaas
Chaminda Vaas

Left arm pace or spin bowlers do not come dime a dozen. And when they do come, taken in hand scrubbed off their short comings, polished and shown the tricks of the trade, they can on their day be devastating and destroy any batting line up and bring victory to their teams.

Champion left arm pace men and spinners who lured batsmen to their demise and were examples and to mention a few names in world cricket are Australians Allan Davidson, Ian McKeiff, Bruce Reid, Mitchell Johnson of Australia and spinner Derek Underwood, England.

The best left arm pacer that the world of cricket saw was undoubtedly Pakistani Wasim Akram. Akram with seam, swing and ability to bowl a stinging bouncer and deliver on any wicket had no equal during his reign, until a Sri Lankan came around.

God given ability

Then came a left arm bowler who had the god given ability to make a mockery of opposing batsmen with his cock tail of deliveries in WARNAKULASURIYA PATABENDIGE USHANTHA JOSEPH CHAMINDA VAAS from Sri Lanka and who is easily the best leftie produced by the country and one of the best the world had seen. To describe him as a gift from god would not be no misnomer.

VAAS showed tremendous ability as a budding youngster, playing soft ball cricket with his pals before joining St. Anthony’s College, Wattala where he got the urge and the feel to play with and against stronger opposition and show case his immense talent.

And that opportunity came when he had the good fortune of joining the school at Darley Road, St. Joseph’s College where he came under the expert coaching of former Josephian and Sri Lankan cricketer Fairlie Dalpathado and Carlton Bernardus who had not much tinkering to do with his action or his direction of deliveries because VAAS was a born naturalist. Incidentally Bernardus was a scorer of twin fifties in the big match against St. Peter’s College.

Phenomenal deeds

When left arm fast men and their deeds are spoken about VAAS’ exploits and success is a story to tell and be toasted. What he achieved for the country is phenomenal, the glorious years of his exploits would take hours to discuss, analyze and leave statisticians stunned.

VAAS could swing the ball both ways and bowl a well disguised delivery that would curve in late and leave batsmen mesmerized unable to believe what happened. While he bagged big Test wickets what he will be remembered most will be the two hat tricks he captured in one-day internationals.

The two hat tricks came first against Zimbabwe when he bamboozled them with seam and swing to skittle the first eight batsmen and return figures of eight for 19 including a hat trick that saw Zimbabwe crumbling for a paltry score of 38. His second hat trick came against Bangladesh with his first three deliveries.

Promised Land

With Sri Lanka straining every nerve, sinew and muscle searching for its historic first Test victory abroad came the Messiah in the form of VAAS to lead us to that elusive Promised Land when he crushed the New Zealand batting in both innings to signal celebrations.

The venue that the Lankans will always remember was McClean Park in Napier, New Zealand. He had a match bag of 10 wickets – five for 47 in the first innings and five for 43 in the second.

Not satisfied excelled with the bat making 33 and 36 and winning the man of the match award. When the country’s historic first Test victory abroad is spoken about, VAAS will remain top of the list.

Century against B’desh

VAAS also had the opportunity of captaining Sri Lanka in a one-day game. Although not being consistent with the bat he has a century to show against Bangladesh.

His deeds with the ball where he took 355 Tests and 400 wickets in one-day cricket and the two hat-tricks he performed in one day cricket will always have him standing at the pinnacle of one-day cricket.

VAAS at the top of his run up would always make the sign of the cross look up to the skies and ask the Almighty to help him achieve success before delivering. VAAS was god fearing and the writer had on several occasions met him after service at Infant Jesus Church, Slave Island every Friday. He will stand tall in the left arm fast bowlers Hall of Fame.

Urge to be a priest

VAAS is on record saying that early in life he intended becoming a priest at a young age but believed that god wanted him to play cricket instead. To him cricket was part of his religion. ‘I seriously considered going into priesthood, which would have meant 12 to 14 years of study. But then cricket began to take over. I think that god created me as a cricketer, so I am happy that that’s my calling,’ he has said.

Choosing the Colts Cricket Club to play Division one cricket after his success at SJC, he continued to show that he was destined to sport the Sri Lanka cap and make waves in international cricket with big match wicket hauls that saw his club win many a game.

Selectors who watched him did not have to split hairs discussing his credentials because it was largely writ in score books and headline hugging in all newspapers and his selection was automatic.

Test debut

VAAS made his Test debut against Pakistan at Kandy from August 26 to 28, 1994. He played his final Test also against Pakistan from July 20 to 24, 2009 at the SSC. He debuted in one day matches vs India at Rajkot on February 15,1994 and played his final game vs India at the RPS on August 27, 2008. T20 debut vs New Zealand at Wellington on December 22, 2006 and played his farewell game at Cape Town on Sept 20, 2007.

To describe his magic and genius will require reams of newsprint. It is all there in black and white in the statisticians’ books for posterity.

There will never be another CHAMINDA VAAS.


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