Sri Lanka v Zimbabwe, only Test, Colombo July 13, 2017

Cremer backs Zimbabwe to counter Herath

Zimbabwe captain Graeme Cremer feels team is thoroughly prepared to face Rangana Herath's wily left-arm spin © Getty Images

When last these teams met, Rangana Herath practically gobbled the opposition up, and took nearly half the Zimbabwe wickets on offer in the series. Herath had not previously played Zimbabwe, and as such, it was the only team against whom he did not have a five-wicket haul. He claimed only six wickets in the first Test, but was irresistible in the next, taking five wickets in the first innings and eight in the second. All up, his 19 wickets came at 15.10 apiece.

This time around, Zimbabwe have at least seen a little of Herath, and understand the threat he poses and captain Graeme Cremer is confident Zimbabwe's homework will stand his batsmen in good stead.

"We know he is a quality bowler, he is someone that Sri Lanka really rely on to pick up wickets," Cremer said of Herath. "We've just spoken about how he tries to get people out - both left-handers and right-handers. Guys have all come up with their own individual plans on how to play him. We definitely know he is a threat and he will be someone we need to keep out if we are to do well in the Test."

Their own attack, meanwhile, is likely to comprise of a similar array of spinners as were in evidence during the ODI series. Cremer himself is a specialist legbreak bowler, and had some success in the Tests against Sri Lanka last year. In support are several allrounders: Sean Williams (left-arm spin), Malcolm Waller and Sikandar Raza (both offspin).

"We rely on a lot on our spinners, which has always been our wicket-taking option," Cremer said. "We've had injuries with the seam attack - Carl Mumba is struggling with his knee, which is a setback for us. But we've still got guys who can step up and do the job, because we are spin-heavy in our team. It depends on the conditions how many spinners we will play."

Cremer also drew attention to the substantial challenges posed by Zimbabwe's infrequent Test schedule. The team has only played four Tests since November 2014, and none since they met Sri Lanka in October and November 2016. The vast majority of their squad have played fewer than 20 Tests, with Cremer himself only having 15 matches under his belt. The rushed schedule on this tour was also a mild bone of contention - Zimbabwe would ideally have liked more time to become acclimatised to Sri Lankan conditions.

"We sometimes struggle when we go three, four, five months without a series, which can be tough. It's not easy just to walk up there and play well against top teams. If we can get a lot more games against good opposition it will help our cricket.

"We also knew it was tough to get a practice fixture, because Sri Lanka had a tough schedule. We'll sort of take any cricket that is given. If Sri Lanka said we can't play a three-dayer or four-dayer because of the schedule, that is something that we cannot control. We aren't too fussy. At least the guys have been out in the middle in the ODIs. We are still confident we can still push them."

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ashiqur Rahman on July 14, 2017, 8:16 GMT

    Nope, Zim isnt ready to counter Herath.

  • Sugath on July 14, 2017, 3:31 GMT

    May be Zimbabwe is riding high because of winning the ODI series, but when it comes to Herath, it is different. He is poles apart from the young spinner club of Sri Lanka who are still learning. Herath will counter any counter action by batters of Zimbabwe. Should they try to take the attacking path to him too then it will be their Waterloo, and Creamer will find himself creamed by Herath, and he will motivate the rest to bigger heights. Let us wait and see!

  • Vaki on July 14, 2017, 0:56 GMT

    Chari Hami Musakanda Ervine Williams Raza M. Waller Regis (wk) Cremer N. Waller Chatara

  • Alex on July 13, 2017, 23:35 GMT

    Its not playing is the issue. it is the context and playing situation. Inorder to play herath one designated guy should start a blind hitting. he will definitely sneak one. So the way to hit him is step out. You get stumped but it is better than get lbw or miss the ball. when you step out you still have time to block out as you miss the ball. But vary when you step out so wicket keeper is not alert. You should try once in an over to show herath you can step out as well. Make him thinking. if you sit there like lamp ready for death , he will definitely get you in a funny torture way. NEVER do cross bat sweep. He will find the gap between your bat and ball. Play straight singles or six. Herath most wicket is LBW so you must play infront of the crease with half leg infront and play straight.if you play straight you normally don' miss him.YOU MUST PLAY FEARLESSLY. Negative batting always become negative result. Most dangerous disease human has negative thinking.

  • Dhawala on July 13, 2017, 15:56 GMT

    Actually this game will be more competitive than the previous test matches between these two sides I hope to see these battles -Herath vs Sikandar , Dilruwan vs Williams ,Lakmal vs Hamilton ,Chandimal vs Cremer,Chatara vs Tharanga so big battles coming up from 14th @ RPICS Colombo Good luck for both teams from a Lankan fan

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