Australia in Sri Lanka 2011 August 23, 2011

Malinga's absence in Tests leaves a gaping hole

Lasith Malinga was devastating for Sri Lanka in the ODI series but the hosts will have to find a way to cope without him in the Tests
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If there was any lingering doubt about Lasith Malinga's value to Sri Lanka, his performance in the ODIs against Australia proved again why his absence from the upcoming Test series will be a big blow for the hosts. Australia won the ODI series 3-2, but the result may well have been different had Malinga been fit for the first match, which Sri Lanka lost. As it turned out, he was instrumental in both Sri Lankan wins.

He topped the series bowling charts, taking the most wickets, 11, at the lowest average, 11.45, and for good measure became the first bowler to take three ODI hat-tricks.

So it came as no surprise when Michael Clarke, the Australia captain, said he was thankful that his team would not have to cope with Malinga's slinging action and pinpoint yorkers in the Tests. "He is an excellent bowler," Clarke said. "He's got an excellent yorker and an equally good slower ball. I am glad that he is not playing us in the Test series."

In the final one-dayer, Malinga ripped through Australia's lower order to set up a consolation four-wicket win. Australia were in a good position at 210 for 5 in the 45th over when Malinga produced one of his special overs to send back Mitchell Johnson (bowled), John Hastings (lbw) and Xavier Doherty (bowled) to record his third ODI hat-trick.

Malinga's fiery burst led to Australia losing their last five wickets for just one run and Tillakaratne Dilshan, the Sri Lanka captain, said that he was lucky to have the bowler in his side. "Malinga is a great asset. Everyone can't do Malinga's job. He is an experienced wicket-taking bowler. Every time you give him the ball he will take wickets for you not only today but in the last few years."

Unfortunately for Dilshan, his luck will be restricted to the ODIs as he will have to find a way to manage without his best bowler come the Tests. When Muttiah Muralitharan and Chaminda Vaas, arguably Sri Lanka's best bowlers ever, retired, Malinga was touted as their successor.

But a knee injury which he picked up during the Australia tour in 2007 threatened to cut short his career. It was only thanks to the healing powers of Dr Eliyantha White, the personal physician of Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa, that Malinga recovered from the injury to return to international cricket in 2010. But after appearing in two Tests against India, he found the strain too much for his knee and did not play the final Test of that series.

In April this year he made the surprise announcement that he was retiring from Tests to spare his knee further damage. "Some people thought that I took this decision for financial gains," Malinga said. "But it was not so. I love the game so much that I want to play as long as I can. I know my knee won't allow me a long career if I continued to play Test cricket.

"I took the decision to concentrate on the shorter versions of the game because it gave me a lot of time to rest my knee between matches. I have no ambitions to return to Test cricket in the future. My future is in the one-day game and Twenty20 cricket. That way I can serve my country better and longer."

Today Malinga is among the best one-day bowlers in the game with his toe-crushing yorkers and slower balls but he was unaware of the historical significance of his latest feat. "I realised that I had become the first bowler to take three hat-tricks in ODI cricket only after the match," he said. "I am extremely happy that I emulated the feat of two other fast bowlers whom I had seen and admired - Wasim Akram and Chaminda Vaas.

"It is these kinds of performances that you are remembered after you have retired from the game. I was not expecting anything like this when I came onto bowl. My job is to take wickets and help the team to win."

That job, however, does not extend to Tests, and Sri Lanka will be hard pressed to find someone to fill his shoes.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sanath-aiyya on August 26, 2011, 20:38 GMT

    this is a hopeless team - following is the best test XI for sri lanka:

    (1) Paranavitharana (2) Tharanga (3) Dilshan (4) Sanga (5) Mahela (6) p jayawardene (7) Angelo Matthews (8) Nuwan Pradeep (9) D Fernando (10) A mendis (11) S prasanna

  • Meety on August 26, 2011, 0:45 GMT

    @ Balumekka - re: Malinga, is an outstanding short format bowler, (had a great Test S/R too), however I don't rate him as the best ODI bowler. That is still Brett Lee. Lee take his wickets almost 2 balls a match quicker, his ODI average is 3 better, & he has a marginally better S/Rate, all this over a career twice as long as Malinga, Lee COULD be argued as the greatest Strike Bowler ever in ODIs, fastest player to 250, 300 & 350 ODI wickets. I say all this without knocking Malinga's great achievements thus far in his career. Like Lee, he has had significant injuries to overcome as well. BTW - Steyn is a Test freak, his Test S/R is truely amazing, amongst the greatest of all time & certainly about the best since WWII!!!!!

  • on August 25, 2011, 7:30 GMT

    malinga is definitely among the top 3 odi bowlers.. but will be unfair to say that his inclusion in the first match could have won the cup for srilanka.. what if bret lee played in d last odi he could have easily bowled out sl under 200... this is the other side of the theory.. pls dont bring in any if factor if the player did not play the match..

  • Black_Rider on August 25, 2011, 2:50 GMT

    @chilled_avenger :::Yes you are partially correct.But he is one of the best bowlers in the world......He gets improving day by day.......

  • Balumekka on August 25, 2011, 2:22 GMT

    @chilled_avenger: Please know the facts and leap in mate! Malinga's statistics are way better than those of Steyn's in ODIs. Malinga's ODI stats: Mat. 94, Wkts.149, Avg. 25.03, Econ. 4.93, SR 30.4. Steyn's ODI stats: Mat. 54, Wkts, 81, Avg. 27.62, Econ. 5.11, SR. 32.2. Malinga has troubled all the batsman you named in your list, if you are not sure just see the videos in youtube just in case. I agree with you that Malinga is not the World's best bowler because he is not playing tests. In that case, Steyn is a better bowler. However, Malinga is the best bowler in shorter formats with no doubt!.

  • Felix1025 on August 24, 2011, 19:09 GMT

    I understand that Nuwan Pradeep is still going thru recovery process. He has started running... Let's pray for speedy recovery for him. In the meantime, Eranga and even Prasad must be given a chance. Both better than Welegedera, kulasekera for tests. Lakmal should be ok as well..

  • WTEH on August 24, 2011, 15:46 GMT

    Malinga is the best bowler in the world for the shorter versions of the game. Sad to see this ICC ranking system. As India being number 3 at tests, anyone can see how wrong this rating system is. May be somebody who knows about cricket should come up with a better seeding system.

  • chilled_avenger on August 24, 2011, 12:16 GMT

    @Somapala90 He isn't in the top 5 in T20 because IPL doesn't count in the rankings! And please SL fans,don't call him the world's best bowler when Dale Steyn is around! Malinga hasn't exactly performed in the Test Format and though is a good bowler in ODI/T20,he is more lethal against tailenders and minnows than the real deal! Steyn has performed in every corner of the world,be it Africa or Asia or Oceania!He has troubled batsmen like Sachin Tendulkar,Ricky Ponting,Dravid ,KP etc. and he has continuously looked a threat in the longer version of the game.Plus,his stats are better than Malinga in T20s and in ODIs too his record is decent,if not exceptional! So I cannot see as to how Malinga is overall the best bowler in the world today?

  • Meety on August 24, 2011, 11:48 GMT

    @LaLanka DeSilva - I haven't heard much about Nuwan Pradeep, I'm a bit concerned that he has been injured already, bit like our quicks back in Oz. Cummins is a 17yo quick who bowls at over 145kph, (as he gets older assuming no injuries, he should bowl heaps quicker), but he missed the Oz A tour to Zimbabwe thru... injury.

  • KingOwl on August 24, 2011, 11:23 GMT

    Somapala90: ICC Rankings or not, Malinga is the best one day and T20 bowler in the world, there is no two words about that.

  • Sanath-aiyya on August 26, 2011, 20:38 GMT

    this is a hopeless team - following is the best test XI for sri lanka:

    (1) Paranavitharana (2) Tharanga (3) Dilshan (4) Sanga (5) Mahela (6) p jayawardene (7) Angelo Matthews (8) Nuwan Pradeep (9) D Fernando (10) A mendis (11) S prasanna

  • Meety on August 26, 2011, 0:45 GMT

    @ Balumekka - re: Malinga, is an outstanding short format bowler, (had a great Test S/R too), however I don't rate him as the best ODI bowler. That is still Brett Lee. Lee take his wickets almost 2 balls a match quicker, his ODI average is 3 better, & he has a marginally better S/Rate, all this over a career twice as long as Malinga, Lee COULD be argued as the greatest Strike Bowler ever in ODIs, fastest player to 250, 300 & 350 ODI wickets. I say all this without knocking Malinga's great achievements thus far in his career. Like Lee, he has had significant injuries to overcome as well. BTW - Steyn is a Test freak, his Test S/R is truely amazing, amongst the greatest of all time & certainly about the best since WWII!!!!!

  • on August 25, 2011, 7:30 GMT

    malinga is definitely among the top 3 odi bowlers.. but will be unfair to say that his inclusion in the first match could have won the cup for srilanka.. what if bret lee played in d last odi he could have easily bowled out sl under 200... this is the other side of the theory.. pls dont bring in any if factor if the player did not play the match..

  • Black_Rider on August 25, 2011, 2:50 GMT

    @chilled_avenger :::Yes you are partially correct.But he is one of the best bowlers in the world......He gets improving day by day.......

  • Balumekka on August 25, 2011, 2:22 GMT

    @chilled_avenger: Please know the facts and leap in mate! Malinga's statistics are way better than those of Steyn's in ODIs. Malinga's ODI stats: Mat. 94, Wkts.149, Avg. 25.03, Econ. 4.93, SR 30.4. Steyn's ODI stats: Mat. 54, Wkts, 81, Avg. 27.62, Econ. 5.11, SR. 32.2. Malinga has troubled all the batsman you named in your list, if you are not sure just see the videos in youtube just in case. I agree with you that Malinga is not the World's best bowler because he is not playing tests. In that case, Steyn is a better bowler. However, Malinga is the best bowler in shorter formats with no doubt!.

  • Felix1025 on August 24, 2011, 19:09 GMT

    I understand that Nuwan Pradeep is still going thru recovery process. He has started running... Let's pray for speedy recovery for him. In the meantime, Eranga and even Prasad must be given a chance. Both better than Welegedera, kulasekera for tests. Lakmal should be ok as well..

  • WTEH on August 24, 2011, 15:46 GMT

    Malinga is the best bowler in the world for the shorter versions of the game. Sad to see this ICC ranking system. As India being number 3 at tests, anyone can see how wrong this rating system is. May be somebody who knows about cricket should come up with a better seeding system.

  • chilled_avenger on August 24, 2011, 12:16 GMT

    @Somapala90 He isn't in the top 5 in T20 because IPL doesn't count in the rankings! And please SL fans,don't call him the world's best bowler when Dale Steyn is around! Malinga hasn't exactly performed in the Test Format and though is a good bowler in ODI/T20,he is more lethal against tailenders and minnows than the real deal! Steyn has performed in every corner of the world,be it Africa or Asia or Oceania!He has troubled batsmen like Sachin Tendulkar,Ricky Ponting,Dravid ,KP etc. and he has continuously looked a threat in the longer version of the game.Plus,his stats are better than Malinga in T20s and in ODIs too his record is decent,if not exceptional! So I cannot see as to how Malinga is overall the best bowler in the world today?

  • Meety on August 24, 2011, 11:48 GMT

    @LaLanka DeSilva - I haven't heard much about Nuwan Pradeep, I'm a bit concerned that he has been injured already, bit like our quicks back in Oz. Cummins is a 17yo quick who bowls at over 145kph, (as he gets older assuming no injuries, he should bowl heaps quicker), but he missed the Oz A tour to Zimbabwe thru... injury.

  • KingOwl on August 24, 2011, 11:23 GMT

    Somapala90: ICC Rankings or not, Malinga is the best one day and T20 bowler in the world, there is no two words about that.

  • TeamRocker on August 24, 2011, 11:12 GMT

    @jonesy2-I agree that Malinga doesn't have much variation, but boy, can he trouble the batsman. He's really quite amazing! @Ellis-Spot on!

  • Somapala90 on August 24, 2011, 8:54 GMT

    How come MALINGA not among the top 5 ODI bowlers??? or the top 5 T20 bowlers??? i think he deserves to be in the top 3 at ODIs and T20s.. ICC please consider this ranking system!!!

  • RJHB on August 24, 2011, 8:37 GMT

    Can't see Sri Lanka consistently bowling out Australia, although Hussey's form again looks suspect, as does Haddin's. Though I am a staunch Aussie follower of cricket, it is a very great pity that test cricket loses another 'X-factor' bowler in Malinga. Like SHoaib Akhtar, Brett Lee, Murali and Shane Warne among many others, you went to the cricket to watch a guy like Malinga. Are we going to see any more greats in tests again or are we only going to see the likes of the wasted talent of Shaun Tait in T20 for four overs at a time?

  • Balumekka on August 24, 2011, 8:25 GMT

    Malinga is undoubtedly the world's best bowler at present when it comes to the shorter formats of the game (not by the rubbish ICC rankings, but his low bowling averages, away performances, accuracy, pace, RPO conceded and most importantly he is the nightmare of batsman!). Since he has retired from tests now its no point of discussing about unavailability of him in test team. Nuwan Pradeep who bowls at 150+km/h must be given the opportunity, and in his last 1st class match against Eng lions he took 4-29 bowling some express deliveries. Although he missed tests in Eng due to injury, he must be ok by now and must be given the chance to play against Aussies.

  • on August 24, 2011, 8:13 GMT

    Itz bad miss you in test series.

  • on August 24, 2011, 8:10 GMT

    Itz bad miss you in test series.

  • on August 24, 2011, 6:58 GMT

    hi this is deepak, malinga is the one of the best bowler I have seen in my 25 years, compare to Asian bowlers except Wasim Akram and shoib akthar. I wish all the best to malinga to bowl more slinga's and getting the first place in one day rankings. all the best.

  • on August 24, 2011, 6:53 GMT

    @Meety,,, your comments are spot on regarding Malinga'a retirement from Test cricket. As for Eranga being a good prospect,,, well yes,, and there is another guy who is uncapped, by the name of Nuwan Pradeep who apparently can bowl with speeds of 150+ without much effort,,, he got picked for the England series, but after playing one tour match where he got 4wickets, the poor bloke got injured and returned back without making his international debut,,,,, i reckon he will be a good prospect For SL.

  • rustyryan on August 24, 2011, 5:16 GMT

    @jonesy2, As an Indian fan, I know How class Malinga is and How much a team needs bowler of his caliber. He is certainly a class above all the current sub-continent bowlers. Mind you , he's playing mostly in flat pitches of sub-continent and yet he's a remarkable way of picking up wickets in heap. Pity that he doesn't play test. I'd love to see him bowling red ball in the green pitches of South Africa. But given his injuries, it'd be better for him to have few more years of cricket left in him. If you call him overrated, you may be referring some other Malinga of some other planet or you must know nothing about cricket.

  • Lionz on August 24, 2011, 4:05 GMT

    @Ellis, I totally agree with you. Malinga is an asset which was poorly managed by the establishment. Otherwise he could have play few Test matches with more rest in between them rather than retiring from the game.

  • ThiefInDaNite on August 24, 2011, 3:20 GMT

    Yep, Ni chance this time around, aus will beat us left and right :-(

  • Black_Rider on August 24, 2011, 3:19 GMT

    @jonesy2 ::Really???Really????Really?????He has a fast bouncer,,Slow bouncer,,slow yorker,,fast yorker.......He is one of the best in modern era.....

  • hyclass on August 24, 2011, 3:06 GMT

    I cant imagine why anyone would question Malingas character.Without giving even handed consideration to all of the facts,not just those which make headlines,many have branded him money hungry.Who,among those accusingl,have given more than him?As any athlete knows,injury is a constant spectre that can quickly reduce a career to a memory.Players must make hay while the sun shines.Who would begrudge any player,what is rightfully theirs.He is not asking for more than he worth or more than others are willing to give him.I applaud him whole heartedly for his dedication to his countries and his families cause.Behind his unorthodox cricketing methods lies the well ordered mind of a man of character.The game is better for him.

  • on August 24, 2011, 2:39 GMT

    only replacement I can see is Nuwan Pradeep. I wonder wether he's recovered from the injury he had on England tour .

  • Willow25 on August 24, 2011, 2:09 GMT

    As an Aussie fan i'm very glad that Malinga will not be playing in the tests, all credit to him.

  • Meety on August 24, 2011, 1:44 GMT

    Originally when Malinga pulled out of a test against India, I thought it was because he was being rested for the W/Cup, (I was a bit cynical about that practise). However, after having a look at what Malinga did to be playing International cricket again, I think that good on him for ensuring a future for himself & family. Not sure what Social Security networks are in place in Sri Lanka, but I assume that it is not strong, so he has to think of his future. When people say he did it for the money, it is unfair, unless you've walked a mile in his shoes, (whilst injured), you can't judge him. If he couldn't play cricket ever again (after 2007), where would he be now? Sad to not see him in the test series, whilst his Test stats aren't outstanding overall, (S/R is brilliant), he would add teeth to the SL attack, a beachhead for the spinners to attack from. Eranga looks like a reasonable prospect!

  • on August 23, 2011, 20:31 GMT

    @jonesy2- mate the mediocre bowler has taken 3 hattricks in world cricket better than the so called reputed bowles - by the way have you ever tried that even from a tennis ball .... dont talk nonsence mate - wake up and follow up cricket more globaly .

  • spinnerbowl on August 23, 2011, 20:05 GMT

    Malinga is the best bowler. I remember when he went crazy at eden park and NZ rightly gave him the name "Malinga the slinga". then the disappointment when he suddenly disappeared from the sri lankan team. now he is back and one of the most feared bowlers because you never know what he is going to throw at you.

  • on August 23, 2011, 19:49 GMT

    Attention to author of this article: there is an error in the last line of the seventh paragraph. Malinga did play the final match of the series against india and missed the 2nd game.Attention to author of this article: there is an error in the last line of the seventh paragraph. Malinga did play the final match of the series against india and missed the 2nd game.

  • on August 23, 2011, 19:31 GMT

    I am agree with Lord.emsworth. We can bring Vaas. He didn't retire, but made retire. Now look his performance in England.

  • Lord.emsworth on August 23, 2011, 18:39 GMT

    Malinga is gone for Test cricket. Dilshan, the fans, and everyone else have to get over it and move on....or rather move a few steps back and recall Chaminda Vaas. Vaas prematurely retired from Test cricket after being dumped during Sangakarra's captaincy. He is now making the 'dumpers' eat humble pie by taking loads of wickets for Northamptonshire against top quality opposition. Old? Maybe, but he's still got it and is even getting better!

  • MENDIS_Forever on August 23, 2011, 18:34 GMT

    pradeep..nuwan pradeep..!!! give him debut immediately!

  • Black_Rider on August 23, 2011, 18:28 GMT

    I don't have words to say......He is just AMAZING......Lasith Malinga ,,,,I am glad you born in Sri Lanka......

  • Ellis on August 23, 2011, 18:28 GMT

    Malinga has been badly handled by the SL establishment from the get go. They were initially more concerned about his bling than his uniqueness and ability to take wickets. Chief among the culprits are Arjuna Ranatunga and Duleep Mendis. There is no reason to doubt Malinga's claims of injury. However, he may have been more willing to play Test cricket with far better management on and off the field. Malinga comes from an area of SL where men are men and do not accept being pushed around. The SL cricket establishment should pay heed to the view that bees are caught with honey, not vinegar. Man management is a foreign concept to the establishment and they pay the price. Players must be treated with dignity and respect, not as chattels.

  • Cpt.Meanster on August 23, 2011, 17:59 GMT

    I think Sri Lanka will find it tough to consistently bowl out Australia. Without Murali, Vaas, Malinga, this team has lost flair in some ways. So the onus is now on Australia to play well. Of course there is Mendis who will definitely bring the mystery factor with his bowling. But Malinga is an impact bowler. He will be sorely missed.

  • ratedstfu44 on August 23, 2011, 17:19 GMT

    IF malinga was fit for EngLaND Test series, Srilanka surely could beat England in at least 1 test

  • Sulaimaan91 on August 23, 2011, 16:12 GMT

    Unless SL spinners dominate, expect this series to be a run feast for both sides.

  • jonesy2 on August 23, 2011, 15:54 GMT

    no disrespect but malinga is a very overrated and mediocre bowler. all he can do is bowl full. surprised by clarkeys comments, maybe hes just taking the mickey.

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  • jonesy2 on August 23, 2011, 15:54 GMT

    no disrespect but malinga is a very overrated and mediocre bowler. all he can do is bowl full. surprised by clarkeys comments, maybe hes just taking the mickey.

  • Sulaimaan91 on August 23, 2011, 16:12 GMT

    Unless SL spinners dominate, expect this series to be a run feast for both sides.

  • ratedstfu44 on August 23, 2011, 17:19 GMT

    IF malinga was fit for EngLaND Test series, Srilanka surely could beat England in at least 1 test

  • Cpt.Meanster on August 23, 2011, 17:59 GMT

    I think Sri Lanka will find it tough to consistently bowl out Australia. Without Murali, Vaas, Malinga, this team has lost flair in some ways. So the onus is now on Australia to play well. Of course there is Mendis who will definitely bring the mystery factor with his bowling. But Malinga is an impact bowler. He will be sorely missed.

  • Ellis on August 23, 2011, 18:28 GMT

    Malinga has been badly handled by the SL establishment from the get go. They were initially more concerned about his bling than his uniqueness and ability to take wickets. Chief among the culprits are Arjuna Ranatunga and Duleep Mendis. There is no reason to doubt Malinga's claims of injury. However, he may have been more willing to play Test cricket with far better management on and off the field. Malinga comes from an area of SL where men are men and do not accept being pushed around. The SL cricket establishment should pay heed to the view that bees are caught with honey, not vinegar. Man management is a foreign concept to the establishment and they pay the price. Players must be treated with dignity and respect, not as chattels.

  • Black_Rider on August 23, 2011, 18:28 GMT

    I don't have words to say......He is just AMAZING......Lasith Malinga ,,,,I am glad you born in Sri Lanka......

  • MENDIS_Forever on August 23, 2011, 18:34 GMT

    pradeep..nuwan pradeep..!!! give him debut immediately!

  • Lord.emsworth on August 23, 2011, 18:39 GMT

    Malinga is gone for Test cricket. Dilshan, the fans, and everyone else have to get over it and move on....or rather move a few steps back and recall Chaminda Vaas. Vaas prematurely retired from Test cricket after being dumped during Sangakarra's captaincy. He is now making the 'dumpers' eat humble pie by taking loads of wickets for Northamptonshire against top quality opposition. Old? Maybe, but he's still got it and is even getting better!

  • on August 23, 2011, 19:31 GMT

    I am agree with Lord.emsworth. We can bring Vaas. He didn't retire, but made retire. Now look his performance in England.

  • on August 23, 2011, 19:49 GMT

    Attention to author of this article: there is an error in the last line of the seventh paragraph. Malinga did play the final match of the series against india and missed the 2nd game.Attention to author of this article: there is an error in the last line of the seventh paragraph. Malinga did play the final match of the series against india and missed the 2nd game.