Former Sri Lanka pacer Dhammika Prasad, who last played for Sri Lanka in 2015, has announced his retirement from international cricket, aged 37. Prasad, who finished with 75 Test wickets at an average of 35.97, had played a crucial role in Sri Lanka winning their first Test series in England.
A promising career, halted by several bout of injuries, Dhammika Prasad was a genuinely fierce bowler in his prime and his subtle variations made him a proper pacer to partner Chaminda Vaas and later Nuwan Kulasekara in the limited-overs cricket. When he made his Test debut after overcoming the back injury, he had an instant impact and became a regular part of the side for the next seven years.
In the home Test series against India in 2015 when after winning in Galle, Sri Lanka lost path and went on to lose the subsequent Test matches, Prasad was the rare positive, having picked 15 Indian wickets that series. In Headingley, against England in 2014, Prasad's second-innings 5 for 50 culminated Sri Lanka's first series victory in the English country.
"We had never won a series in England, and when Dhammika took wickets on that fourth day in Leeds, it set us up for victory and that was a remarkable thing. When he and I bowled together, I knew he would be putting pressure on the batsman from the other end - either keeping the runs down, or threatening their wickets," Rangana Herath said in a tribute for his former teammate.
"I also remember something to laugh about. In 2015, when we played India at home, he had a heated argument with Ishant Sharma on the field. At the time we all thought it would be something that went on for a long time. But that same evening, we saw him and Ishant having a coffee together at the hotel. They hadn't waited for the end of the match - they made up that evening itself."
Former Sri Lanka captain Marvan Atapattu, who was the coach of the side during that 2014 series, was effusive in his praise for Prasad and called him a tireless workhorse who was ready to take the ball anytime the team wanted him to.
"Generally fast bowlers like to bowl with the new ball first thing in the day when the conditions suit them, but Dhammika was someone you could call on anytime," Atapattu said.
"He'd want the ball at all times of the day, no matter what condition it was in. If it was 5pm, and he was bowling with an old ball, and there was a batsman batting on 150, he'd still take the ball, because he wanted to get that breakthrough for the team. Those are rare qualities from a cricketer."