MUMBAI: Rangana Herath has urged Sri Lanka's cricket administrators to be patient with the current crop of spinners as they struggle to fill the void left after his retirement in 2018, the left-arm wizard told Reuters.
Sri Lanka boast two spinners in the top 10 in the list of the most successful bowlers in test cricket, with Muttiah Muralitharan leading the tally with 800 wickets and Herath placed 10th.
Herath is the most prolific left-arm spinner in the world with 433 test wickets and spearheaded Sri Lanka's bowling attack after Muralitharan's retirement in 2010 until the end of 2018.
Sri Lanka have lost three of four home tests since Herath hung up his boots with visiting teams increasingly becoming more adept at thwarting the threat of their spinners in helpful conditions.
Dilruwan Perera, 37, is the leader of the Sri Lankan spin attack currently with 41 tests under the belt, while Lasith Embuldeniya, Lakshan Sandakan and Akila Dananjaya are some of the other spinners tried by the team.
"There are few options but we need to give them confidence by playing them," Herath told Reuters in an interview.
"Because if you keep changing players you don't build the confidence, that's very important. Especially for the spinners, when they keep playing they will learn a lot of things. They need to stay in the game.
"When you keep playing regularly, then you will collect those experience, knowledge and everything. Once you get that confidence then you will start to perform."
Herath himself was an understudy to Muralitharan for almost a decade before he got his chance to torment the world's best batsmen.
"I was lucky to get that foundation for those 10 years, it helped for the next 10," said Herath.
Herath is in India as part of the Sri Lanka Legends team for the Road Safety World Series organised to create awareness towards road safety in the country. The tournament kicks off at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium on Saturday.
Sri Lanka will have a chance to avenge their 3-0 home loss to England in 2018 when they host Joe Root's side in a two-test home series starting from March 19.
Herath felt there was a lesson to be learnt from the way England batsmen attacked the Sri Lankan spinners on their last tour.
"We have good variety in spin bowling. With that I'm sure we will give our best shot for the England series," he said.
"We have home advantage, we have a good combination with the team. So I'm sure that we will give our best to win the series."
Like most other cricketing greats, Herath wants tests to continue to being played over five days amid calls for matches to be reduced to four to ease a crammed international calendar.
"Playing test cricket means that you are testing your skills, testing your fitness, testing your experience and all the things being tested over five days," Herath said.
"From the first day to the fifth day, it's different scenarios. If you reduce to four days, I don't think it will help the players."
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Lincoln Feast.)