Lasith Malinga’s career may seem like it is on its last legs, but the paceman announced on Wednesday (August 30) that he was ready to play until 2023.
Speaking to the media after being named Sri Lanka captain for the fourth One-Day International, Malinga insisted that he wasn’t preoccupied with the 300-wicket milestone, and that that he would play for Sri Lanka until his body allowed him to. Malinga has 299 wickets from 202 ODIs in a career that started in 2004.
“I have no special aim to get 300 wickets,” said the Sri Lankan ace. “I play to get wickets in every match that I am given. I’m ready to play until 2023.
“I didn’t play for 19 months because of my injury. I’ve only played a couple of series since then. I am finally getting better. Everyone knows how major my leg injuries are. I’m doing all the treatment and all the rehabilitation. Now I feel really comfortable to bowl 10 overs – I bowl consistently.”
Malinga was thrust into the hot seat after Chamara Kapugedera was ruled out of the series with a back injury. Kapugedera himself was standing in for Upul Tharanga, who is currently serving a two-match ban. Tharanga will return for the final ODI in Colombo.
“I feel like it’s a good challenge for me,” said Malinga. “At the moment, we have lost a few matches, yes. We have good young players and a few experienced players too. This is the time to give confidence to young players and tell them that we are still good enough to play international cricket. People think we are not top of the table, but I feel we can change that.”
He continued: “I don’t really need to think about who captained the past matches. They’ve given me the next match so I will look forward to carrying out that duty. The cricket I’ve played and the cricket knowledge that I have, I will pass that on to the younger players. There’s no shortage of talent and skill in our team, but there is a shortcoming in how we execute that. We need to fix our mentality.”
His slump, though, may not be lie the biggest concern at the moment for Sri Lanka cricket. They have lost a slew of players to injuries and their national selectors have put down their papers in the wake of their performance in the third ODI in Pallekele.
“Between the 15 of us and the management, there have been no mental setbacks,” said Malinga. “No matter what the news around the team is, our goal is to do our jobs well. Our mentality is good. These aren’t problems for us.”
It is hard to believe that everything in the Sri Lankan camp is as rosy as Malinga is making it out to be, but then again, what else can he say?
“In the past, the Sri Lankan team had experienced players. At the moment, we don’t have that luxury,” offered Malinga as his reason for the poor run of form. “We have a few talented, young players in Sri Lankan cricket. That’s why we want to back them. The past is the past. But now we have some good young players. We want to give our experience to them. Then I feel they will do a better stuff for us over the next few years.”