Vaas denies he was forced to retire

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka's veteran seamer Chaminda Vaas insists his international career is not over despite retiring from Test cricket and finding himself dumped from the limited-overs game.

The left-armer, 35, ended his Test career at the end of the three-match series against Pakistan on Friday, saying he was still keen to play one-day and Twenty20 cricket till the 2011 World Cup.

The selectors, however, did not pick Vaas in the 15-man squad for the upcoming five-match one-day series against Pakistan starting in the central town of Dambulla on July 30.

"I will be back soon," Vaas said at a farewell media conference after his last Test, the 111th in a 15-year career in which he claimed 355 wickets at an average of 29.58.

"I have not played one-day cricket for 11 months and during that time all the young fast bowlers have played very well and grabbed the opportunities with both hands.

"I am going to work hard to fight for my place."

Vaas rubbished media speculation that he was forced to retire from Test cricket after being overlooked for the first two matches against Pakistan and only included for the third after a deal with the selectors.

"No one forced me to retire," he said. "I am thankful that I got the opportunity to play in my last Test.

"This is the best time to retire from Test cricket and concentrate on one-dayers and Twenty20s because the young fast bowlers who are emerging are doing pretty well."

Vaas, who also scored 3,085 Test runs, is only the third Sri Lankan cricketer after Sanath Jayasuriya and Muttiah Muralitharan to play more than 100 Tests.

He has 400 wickets from 322 one-day internationals, including a hat-trick off the first three balls of the match against Bangladesh during the 2003 World Cup in South Africa.

Looking back at his Test career that began in 1994, also against Pakistan, Vaas said he was proud to have contributed to Sri Lanka's success at the international level.

"After 15 years Sri Lanka has made giant strides and is able to rub shoulders with the best," he said.

"While many people have contributed to this transformation, I am proud to have played my own little part in this process.

"I may not have been the most talented cricketer to play for Sri Lanka but I have worked hard on my game and was able to produce good results. There is no substitute for hard work."

Vaas, who was part of Sri Lanka's World Cup-winning team in 1996, rates the then captain Arjuna Ranatunga as "a strong leader who had a great influence on my career."

Vaas' role model was Pakistani legend Wasim Akram, a left-arm fast bowler like him, while he picked Sachin Tendulkar of India and West Indian Brian Lara as the most difficult batsmen to bowl to.