The 40-year-old left-arm spinner was unable to enjoy a dream send-off as his side were thumped by 211 runs in the first Test against England in Galle.
Herath was run out to bring the contest to an end on day four, but he was still able to look back with immense pride on a five-day career that yielded 433 wickets – the eighth-highest figure in Tests.
“In this scenario, it’s a bit of an emotional situation. But everybody has to take a decision at the right time,” Herath told Sky Sports shortly after leaving the field to a warm ovation.
“I’m thankful for all those years that I have played, those people who have been behind me, especially the team-mates, Sri Lanka Cricket, all the people. I must thank every single person behind me.
“It’s been a privilege and an honour to play for my country. In Sri Lanka, we have 22 million people. Very few people get the opportunity to play for Sri Lanka, so it’s a remarkable achievement for any player.
“Of course, I’m so proud playing for Sri Lanka, especially in this team. Cricket has given me a lot, I have a lot of respect for the game.”
Although Sri Lanka were well beaten in Galle, Herath – who intends to play on in first-class cricket – spoke with optimism about the team’s future.
“Of course, as always, losing is not a good result for any team, but this is part of the game,” he added. “We didn’t play the cricket we used to play. Hopefully the guys will come back strongly for the second and third .
“I’m 100 per cent confident in the talent we have. If you take the recent past against South Africa, against Australia, we have had a very good winning mindset. We need to get that back. I’m sure the guys will do.”
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Source: Mykhel (Cricket)