x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Sangakkara and Jayawardene back Malinga retirement decision

Franchise captains Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene have backed Lasith Malinga's decision to quit Tests because of a worsening knee condition.

Franchise captains Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene have backed Lasith Malinga's decision to quit Tests because of a worsening knee condition.

The fast bowler announced his retirement last Friday, days after Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) questioned his participation in the lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL) after he withdrew from the upcoming England Tests citing fitness issues.

Malinga, who plays for Mumbai Indians in the IPL and is the highest wicket-taker this season so far with 16 scalps, attracted criticism he had chosen club over country.

Sangakkara, who leads Deccan Chargers, said Malinga's decision was best for the team while Jayawardene, who captains Kochi Tuskers Kerala, said it was the right call from a personal point of view, according to Cricinfo.

"We were all well aware of the seriousness of his knee condition," Sangakkara said of the injury-prone bowler, who has pierced eyebrows, dyed blond locks and a distinctive slinging action.

"While I was captain we tried to manage him as carefully and sensitively as possible during the past couple of years," said Sangakkara, who quit as captain this month following the team's loss to India in the World Cup final.

"The truth is that Lasith is our best fast bowler in limited-overs cricket right now.

"If we forced him to play Tests we would be running the risk of losing him completely. That would be a tragedy for Sri Lanka, undermining both the ODI [one-day international] and Twenty20 teams."

Jayawardene said given Malinga's knee condition it was pointless to risk him for five-day Tests. "If he breaks down then it will be bad for Sri Lanka. We want him playing for us as long as possible," said Jayawardene, who stepped down this month as vice-captain.