x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Lasith Malinga deserves support

Only the ignorant could suggest the seduction of the Indian Premier League is the reason for Lasith Malinga's retirement.

Lasith Malinga seldom enjoys such support anywhere else - a packed Wankhede Stadium chanting his name every time he runs in to bowl. His pay cheque from Mumbai Indians is significant as well.

However, only the ignorant could suggest the seduction of the Indian Premier League (IPL) is the reason for his retirement from Test cricket. It is not as simple as choosing "cash over country", as many have claimed over the last few days. That is a faulty judgement and adds insult to injury.

Yes, injuries have been the primary reason for Malinga's decision and you just have look at the number of his Test appearances since 2008 to realise that.

In the past 40 months, Sri Lanka have played 28 Tests and Malinga has figured in just two. He returned to the Test team for the first time since 2007 against India last July. He played the first Test, but missed the second with injury and struggled in the third. Malinga was not picked for the following Test series at home against West Indies.

Tommy Simsek, the Sri Lanka team physio, made a similar assessment in a letter to Aravinda de Silva, the then chairman of selectors, last November. "Lasith is likely to get fatigue induced knee soreness from time to time when fielding or bowling for prolonged periods," he wrote.

Duleep Mendis, the new chairman of selectors, must surely be aware of this letter as well. It was a pity then to see him questioning Malinga's decision. Perhaps his statement was motivated by issues other than cricket.

arizvi@thenational.ae