It seems all but over for Lasith Malinga, the feared bowler with a 'no-nonsense' attitude. But does he not deserve an honourable exit in exchange for his contribution towards Sri Lanka cricket over the past 14 years?
Malinga is no ordinary cricketer. He is a legend in his own right. He took the sporting world by surprise with his lethal inswinging yorkers that crashed into the stumps like thunderbolts, leaving hapless batsmen bemused.
His inswinging yorker terrified even the most technically sound international batsmen. Malinga owns four limited-over hat tricks for Sri Lanka, including a rear four wickets in four balls against South Africa at the 2007 World Cup.
He was arguably Sri Lanka’s most influential bowler during the team's excellent run in global tournaments from 2007 to 2014. Since returning to the side after a knee-surgery, however, Malinga seems to have lost his venom and this is working against him.
There has been no official intimation from the selectors of their plans for Malinga. But the constant snubs are a clear indication of what awaits the man. Just this week, selectors deemed him not good enough to earn a recall to the side for the Tri-nation Nidahas Trophy competition involving Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and India.
More surprisingly, however, he was not even among the 20-man preliminary squad that was initially announced.
“What baffles me most is how I was not even good enough to be among the 20-man squad named,” Malinga reflected. “Leave aside all I have done over the last 14 years as a cricketer for this country, I was the second highest wicket taker in the domestic T20 tournament at the time of selection being made.What more can I do to prove myself?"
While his pace seems to have diminished, Malinga has returned impressive figures for NCC during the ongoing T20 tournament--claiming eight wickets in his first three matches at an average of 10.62. He was, however, without wickets in his last match played against Ragama CC on March 1.
“I am not talking about 50-over cricket but T20," he continued. "I can understand them not considering me for 50-overs as the workload is a bit high but in T20 cricket all you need is to bowl four overs and field for 20 overs which I have done and proven. I really don’t know what more I have to do to impress the selectors."
Malinga last played for Sri Lanka in September 2017 when he took one of the three wickets to fall against India at home. He is one of the most experienced T20 players in world cricket at present with 252 matches under his belt. He has taken a total of 339 wickets at 18.37, second only to DJ Bravo of West Indies at 413. Malinga was also one of the Mumbai Indians’ most iconic players in the Indian Premier League (IPL) for ten years since 2007, before being appointed their bowling mentor for the 2018 season.
He also led Sri Lanka to the 2014 T20 World title after designated skipper Dinesh Chandimal was sidelined over poor form. Even though Sri Lanka played three more matches thereafter with Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, Malinga did not find a place in the final squad.
“I have at least two years of cricket left in me and now I was enlisted by Mumbai Indians to be their bowling mentor which I am very proud of," he said. " I have heard the local selectors saying they have not ruled me out completely but are they waiting till I hit 40 to select me?"
In 2017, Malinga took 12 wickets in six T20Is and 10 wickets in 13 ODIs. There were 12 missed catches off his ODI bowling that do not show up in his final tally. “Since the new selectors took over, I have not played a single game for my country," he said.
"How can anyone decide whether I am good or bad without giving me the opportunity? What yardstick do they use to assess my performance?" Malinga is undoubtedly one of the best bowlers the world has seen. But his no-nonsense attitude did not earn him love among the authorities.
In June last year, Malinga publicly criticised the country’s Sports Minister when he questioned the national cricketers' commitment to fitness. He called the Minister no more than an armchair critic, earning a one-year suspended ban.
It is said in some quarters feel that Malinga is a bad influence on players, and that the Board does not want to upset a team that is now gelling well as a unit. But one thing is clear: Malinga deserves a better send off; not in the manner that Chaminda Vaas, treated with -- arguably this country’s best seam bowler.
Bandara Sunday, 04 March 2018 02:44 PM
Malinga deserves a place in our T20 team and good send off. Our guys always forget to recognize who serve our countries, like SF.
Clueless Sunday, 04 March 2018 04:55 PM
Malinga need to earn his place and under no nonsense coach hathu he will perform well if he can get back in.
dulan Monday, 05 March 2018 08:17 AM
Nidhas trophy is a good opportunity to give him a chance to prove his form. He is honest and does not pretend to be a patriot like famous others who retire with 3 to 4 yrs cricket left and then plays overseas.
Ajja Monday, 05 March 2018 04:02 PM
Just meet Sports Minister and say Hello sir How are you and sorry for what happened in the past but he is too proud to do that.You need to be humble when you are popular which Malinga lack
Arthur Tuesday, 06 March 2018 11:07 AM
He does not have to beg from politicians to get what he deserves.
LaughOutLoud Tuesday, 06 March 2018 09:14 AM
Malinga chose the IPL over the England Tour, . I am not saying he is right, or wrong, but as the saying goes, "You've made your bed, now lie in it !
Leo Tuesday, 06 March 2018 09:38 AM
Need not worry about it. Mumbai Indians and his chapathi mate SRT will give him an excellent send off. No IPL contracts so wants to play for SL. No thanks Malinga.
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