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November 30, 2007
On the eve of his 100th Test appearance for Sri Lanka, Chaminda Vaas says he will play one more year before quitting international cricket.
"I give myself one more year in Test cricket and in that time I hope to take 350 wickets before I quit," Vaas said. He will become the third Sri Lankan, after Sanath Jayasuriya and Muttiah Muralitharan, to play 100 Tests and is by far their most successful fast bowler, but said he will not unnecessarily try to prolong his career. "I will not wait for people to start saying that I am too old to play and be left out of the side. I don't want to become a laughing stock.
"I am proud and honoured to serve my country for so long and I am eager to perform in my 100th Test," he said. "I want to make it a special one by bowling my country to victory.
"Every game I've played was important to me. That's why I have played nearly 100 Tests and taken 320 wickets. I trust myself and motivate myself. I have put a lot of faith and trust in God. Because of his strength I find myself playing in 100 Tests for my country. I value the support given to me by my parents and my loving wife."
Mahela Jayawardene, the Sri Lanka captain, praised Vaas and said he could play a key role in the first Test against England. "It's a great achievement for a sub-continent fast bowler," he said. "He's been a great fighter. In the first couple of days in Kandy he can be a handful."
Vaas admitted he had lost some pace over the years. "Now I take wickets bowling swing and reverse-swing," he said. "You also need to be accurate and have enough patience. Perseverance is important for a fast bowler to be successful."
He said his bowling was at its best during the home series against West Indies in 2001-02. "I took 26 wickets in three Tests and was joint Man of the Series and more importantly we won 3-0. It was first time I took more wickets than Murali [Muralitharan] in a Test series."
Vaas's best Test match figures of 14 for 191 came in that series at the Sinhalese Sports Club Ground in Colombo on a wicket that didn't offer much assistance. Vaas revealed after the Test that he had mastered the art of reverse-swing with some useful tips from Wasim Akram, a fellow left-arm quick.
Many of Sri Lanka's Test wins over the years have been orchestrated by Vaas along with Muralitharan. Murali too is on the verge of a milestone, needing five more wickets to go past Shane Warne as the leading wicket-taker in Tests.
"Murali is the greatest offspinner in the world. It has been an honour to bowl with him," Vaas said. "I have helped Murali to take wickets a lot of times and we have complemented each other well."
Although he is contemplating on retiring next year, Vaas felt Sri Lanka's bowling was in good hands with the emergence of bowlers like Lasith Malinga, Dilhara Fernando and Farveez Maharoof.
"There are also young fast bowlers like Chanaka Welagedera and Sajeewa de Silva," he said. "You've got to be patient with them and give them more time to develop."