Sri Lanka pace bowling legend Lasith Malinga
has been the primary Lankan paceman for almost a decade now. But despite his reputation, he is not being able to script a comeback to the national side after his axing last year. His exclusion was a surprise indeed as the 34-year old finished as the highest wicket-taker for his country in T20Is in 2017 with 12 scalps in six innings. With his sling action, Malinga also ended as the highest wicket-taker in the domestic T20 tournament with 17 wickets in eight matches. The former Lankan captain in the sideline of his 50-over game for Nondescripts Cricket Club at Colombo Cricket Club Wednesday took some time off to speak to Dhaka Tribune
where he mentioned the mysteries behind his non-selection in the national team. Here are the excerpts:
You’re bowling well in the domestic T20 tournament, and also in the 50-over league. Do you think you’re slowly but surely coming back to your best form?
I was the highest international wicket-taker in Sri Lanka before getting dropped from the national team in 2017. They had suddenly dropped me and I don't know why they did that. After getting dropped I played the domestic T20 tournament and had become the highest wicket-taker there too, but then again I was kept dropped. The 50-over tournament has just started and (Wednesday) we (were) playing the third game but a proper one. The previous matches were disturbed by rain.
I was not thinking much of ODI cricket, honestly, because we had tour of Bangladesh and Nidahas Trophy coming up. But I could not find a reason to drop me from the team despite (me) being the highest wicket-taker in the domestic tournament and for the national team in 2017. I had read somewhere Asanka Gurusinha saying I don't have space in the team with Nuwan Pradeep and Suranga Lakmal in the team, and that it is very hard for me to come back. I played 250 T20 matches (256 domestic T20 games) and got 350 wickets (348). That is past. If they feel Pradeep and Suranga (are) the best T20 bowlers in Sri Lanka I have no problem with that.
How challenging is it to prove yourself again in the domestic tournaments and get back to the team?
No challenge at all. I do not want to prove because I do not find any reason to drop me (in the) first place. Why do I need to prove again? I have already done my job, becoming the 2017 highest wicket-taker so I am already proving.
Lankan head coach Chandika Hathurusingha said you still have a future with Sri Lanka...
You see I am already 34 years old and might be playing another two or three years.
Do you think you can add that x-factor in the 2019 World Cup?
They already said the team (have) quality players which means I am not good enough to represent the country at the moment.
What are your immediate future plans?
I don't think I will play for another three or four years. I believe I have one and a half or two years (of) international cricket in me - which covers the 2019 World Cup and the 2020 World T20. I can play another two years but only if they want or else I don't mind.
If the opportunity arises, will you end your career following the 2019 World Cup?
If they select I am available if they do not, I never mind. Because I know who I am.
Are you in touch with the Lankan team management or the selectors?
No. They did not tell me anything. They have not selected me, (that) is it. I do not want to ask the reason. I just read that article where Gurusinha told of the team having Pradeep and Suranga and that it was very hard for me to come to the national team.
Did you speak to Hathurusingha after he became the Sri Lanka head coach?
I spoke to him when he used to play with us in the leagues but not after he took charge of the national team as coach. I am not a person to go behind someone, rather do my job which is to bowl and take wickets and at the end of the day people know who I am. Let the ball do the talking.
You look much fitter these days. Are you working hard on your fitness?
You see as a cricketer I like to play cricket, let (it) be domestic or international. I am playing the domestic leagues, and also mentoring job in IPL, so yes, I am working on my fitness and gym sessions. I can go bowl four overs (or) 10 overs and take wickets.
What are your thoughts after being appointed Mumbai Indians mentor?
It is a different role there but given the 14-15 years of international experience I have, I do know the situation and the skill a bowler needs to handle that situation. I can put my experience into helping the bowlers come out from a situation. They are also good players but still sometimes they can get into pressure and I can explain what kind of field they need, and (what to) do to improve the skill. Then Mustafizur [Rahman] is also there (Mumbai) and I want to really help him.
What is your take on Mustafizur’s bowling these days?
He was really good when he had first arrived in international cricket but people now are expecting more than that. I think he has confused his skill and trying too much to do in the field. He has got a very good variation but I think he is not going for his game plan. He needs to focus on his game plan. He has got three or four variations but he needs to think of how to make use of that variation. I think at this point he is a bit aggressive and trying a bit too much. I think I can fix that for him.