Mumbai: Sri Lankan speedster Lasith Malinga, whose sling-arm bowling action and devastating yorkers proved to be a nightmare for batsmen the world over, on Friday announced his retirement from Test cricket because of a “long-standing degenerative” knee injury.
Accused of choosing the cash-rich IPL ahead of national duties by his own cricket Board, the 27-year-old Malinga said that he would continue to be available for ODIs and Twenty20 games for his country.
The surprise announcement from Malinga, regarded as the fastest bowler produced by Sri Lanka till date, is being interpreted as a move to put an end to the selection dispute with his cricket establishment which wanted him to return from the IPL for a rehabilation programme.
“Although I am sufficiently fit to play both ODI and T20 cricket, I have a long-standing degenerative condition in my right knee that needs to be carefully managed,” Malinga said in a statement.
“The condition relates directly to the chronic knee injury I sustained playing for Sri Lanka in Australia back in February 2008, an injury that prevented me from playing ODI cricket for 16 months,” he added.
Malinga, who pulled out of Sri Lanka’s upcoming Test tour of England citing fitness woes, has been leading the wicket’s tally for Mumbai Indians in the ongoing IPL.
His decision to pull out of the country’s Test tour irked Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) officials, who found it “awkward” that he was continuing to play in IPL though he was not fit for national duty.
Malinga clarified that the condition stops him from playing in the Test format only.
“The injury was a career-threatening injury and my orthopaedic surgeon was of the opinion that given his experience with other professional athletes in Australia I was very fortunate to play again.
“I have since been advised by the national team physiotherapist and my orthopaedic consultant that my condition will deteriorate when fielding or bowling for prolonged periods,” he said in the statement.
“I did try to return to Test cricket after a three-year absence last year (against India) following requests from the team management and the selectors, but it left me unfit nursing severe knee pain for two months”, Malinga said.
“I have realized that the heavy workload of Test cricket, which requires a fast bowler to be able to bowl more than 15 overs, sometimes on consecutive days, could lead to permanent injury. I have carefully considered my options and have decided that not playing Test cricket will help me achieve my goal of representing Sri Lanka in the 2012 World Twenty20 and the 2015 World Cup,” he said.
Malinga, known for his funky hairstyles, has taken 101 wickets from 30 Tests at an average of 33.15 and three five-wicket hauls. He enjoyed more success in the ODIs in which he has 127 wickets from 84 matches at an average of 26.38.
Malinga made his Test debut against Australia at Darwin in 2004, while the Colombo match against India in August last year remains his last.
He has been the pick of the Mumbai Indian bowlers in the ongoing IPL with 11 wickets so far from four matches and has really excelled with his toe-crushing yorkers. He has also made quite a mark with his bowling at the death.