Warnakulasuriya Patabendige Ushantha Joseph Chaminda Vaas!
Can you guess who we are talking about?
Well, the name belongs to one of the most renowned cricketers of all times. Some of us must have identified him by now. Yes, we are talking about the legendary, Chaminda Vaas.
A smooth run-up, streamlined bowling action, upright seam releases, and responsible opening spells over the years were some of the well-known aspects of his bowling. One could easily sense a disciplined approach whenever the ball was tossed to him. Discipline was such a hallmark of his bowling that it made some of the best batsmen struggle big-time against him. A prominent example of that would be Sachin Tendulkar who was dismissed a record 9 times in 49 ODI encounters with him.
Vaas had turned into a reliable pinch hitter lower down the order. Scoring a 100* in a test match speaks volumes of his batting abilities.
However, Chaminda Vaas was never really a nightmare for the batsmen but he was always a big threat round the corner. Why so? One could say that his economic bowling spells were just like the ‘regular days in the office’. And if given a good surface, his wicket taking abilities wouldn’t surprise but often shock the whole cricketing world. After all, the man is responsible for taking 8/19 in an ODI: the best bowling figures till date! Back in his day, he was capable of devastating entire batting line-ups on his own. He has two hat-tricks to his name. I repeat TWO HAT-TRICKS. Vaas became the only bowler to claim a hat-trick in the first three balls of any form of international cricket when he took the first three wickets off the opening balls of the game against Bangladesh in World Cup 2003. Phew.. The memories of that carnage are etched in the minds of those who watched the match.
Not many know but as young boy growing up in Mattumagala, he had a strong inclination of becoming a priest. But just after a few years, he had the fortune of taking two 5 wicket hauls in the 1995 Napier test against the Kiwis. This Man of the Match gifted Sri Lanka’s first ever overseas test win. It was truly special as the Lankans had been waiting for this win since 1982. Vaas became a strong member of the 1996 World Cup winning Sri Lankan side.
His presence in the Sri Lankan team had often been overshadowed by the paralysing bowling spells of Muttiah Murlitharan and this is one of the biggest reasons why he is still considered as #2 in Sri Lanka even after scalping 750 international wickets. In recognition of his contributions, Chaminda Vaas was conferred the Deshbandhu Award by the Government of Sri Lanka.
Since hanging his boots from all forms of international cricket in 2009, Vaas had been an active bowling coach for New Zealand, Irish & Sri Lankan National Teams, giving back the sport what he had gained in the last 20 years, admirably, serving God in his own unique way!