Left-arm spinner Rangana Herath is set to become the oldest player to lead a Test team for the first time since Somachandra de Silva in 1983, after he was named captain of Sri Lanka for the tour of Zimbabwe because Angelo Mathews is injured.
Sri Lanka's regular vice-captain, Dinesh Chandimal, was also unavailable for the two-Test series because of a thumb injury sustained during a domestic game, for which he had to have surgery. Herath, 38, will be only the second bowler to lead Sri Lanka in Tests, after de Silva.
Mathews had torn his calf during the fourth ODI against Australia in August and had not recovered sufficiently, despite being named in the original squad for the tour of Zimbabwe on October 21. He is expected to be out of action for three weeks and is doubtful for the tri-series in Zimbabwe, also involving West Indies, that follows the Tests. No replacement was named yet for Mathews.
Herath played 71 ODIs and 17 T20Is for Sri Lanka and did not captain in those formats either. He retired from limited-overs cricket in April this year to focus on Test cricket and played the defining role - 28 wickets - in Sri Lanka's 3-0 whitewash of Australia in July and August. Seventeen years after having made his debut in 1999, Herath is set to make his captaincy debut, in his 74th Test.