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Malinga Test return possible feels Sri Lanka bowling coach

Kanishkaa Balachandran in Colombo

June 28, 2012

Comments: 46 | Text size: A | A

Lasith Malinga accounted for Sachin Tendulkar and MS Dhoni in the first two sessions, Sri Lanka v India, 3rd Test, P Sara Oval, 3rd day, August 5, 2010
Sri Lanka's bowling coach on Lasith Malinga: "I will be happy to play him for one Test in every series, because I am confident he can win that game for his team." © AFP
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Champaka Ramanayake, Sri Lanka's fast-bowling coach, has said he believes Lasith Malinga might return to Test cricket if he feels his fitness is back at optimum levels. Malinga quit Tests in 2011 due to a long-standing knee problem, deciding to focus only on the limited-overs formats. If Malinga returns to Tests, Ramanayake said, he, like the rest of the seamers, would have to be managed very carefully.

Ramanayake, a fast bowler from the Galle district who played 18 Tests and 62 ODIs for Sri Lanka, is credited for discovering Malinga, who hails from the same region.

"Because of his [Malinga's] knee problem, he realised that he could be out in all forms of the game [so he had to quit one]. But I have the feeling he might come back to Test cricket if he feels he is fit and strong," Ramanayake told ESPNcricinfo in Colombo. "He is working hard on his fitness. I will be happy to play him for one Test in every series, because I am confident he can win that game for his team.

"He has the hunger, I know he loves Test cricket. Recently I asked him to join us at the dressing room; he loves to pass on advice to the fast bowlers."

Sri Lanka's fast bowlers have recently suffered several injuries. Chanaka Welegedera, their main seamer in Tests, was ruled out of the three Tests against Pakistan due to a torn shoulder muscle. Suranga Lakmal has a serious ankle injury that could rule him out for at least six months, and Shaminda Eranga has a nerve problem in his back. Ramanayake said these injuries are mainly due to a lack of bowling long spells in domestic cricket.

"Bowling fitness is very important. We found that one of the reasons why bowlers keep breaking down is that they don't bowl enough at practice or at the domestic level, especially the youngsters," Ramanayake said. "You get these injuries if your body has not adapted to bowling long enough."

Nuwan Kulasekara, he said, is someone who is capable of lasting through a long spell because he doesn't strain himself too much when he delivers. "Some [bowlers] have sound technique. Kula [Kulasekara] for instance is smooth and wristy, and doesn't use much of his body when he bowls. He doesn't have to exert much effort.

"On a flat pitch, you have to bowl 30-odd overs in an innings and your body is not used to it. We are now making sure they bowl more in domestic cricket, but they also have to be managed carefully. You may spend a lot of time at the gym, but still injuries occur."

Despite his success as a one-day bowler, Kulasekara has played only 13 Tests over seven years. Kumar Sangakkara said recently that Kulasekara had it in him to be a Test spearhead, and Ramanayake agrees.

"He always had an immaculate line and length. He used to bowl only inswingers, but now he gets it to move away and gives opportunities to the slip fielders," Ramanayake said. "He's a rhythmic bowler and a smart cricketer. He has proven everyone wrong [regarding the] need for raw pace to play Test cricket. His fitness was never an issue. I have always rated him very highly but not everyone did."

Nuwan Pradeep, who has emerged as one of the fastest bowlers in the country, also has a history of breakdowns in his short career. Ramanayake cited him as an example of someone with natural talent, but lacking in bowling fitness.

"We discovered him when he was playing softball cricket. He hadn't bowled much with a cricket ball. He always had the natural talent, but he didn't bowl enough when he was younger. We need to be patient with someone like him. He is actually one of the fittest guys in the team, but he needs bowling fitness. This is why domestic cricket is very important for player development."

A few months ago, Sri Lanka Cricket had advised the clubs in the first-class competition to prepare more seaming pitches. Ramanayake felt that merely preparing helpful tracks may not help their bowling fitness, when confronted with flat tracks in international cricket.

"If you give them seaming tracks, they may not get to bowl much, if the batsmen are bowled out quickly," he said. "I would say 50-50 pitches would be ideal. Most the tracks in international cricket are flat and they need to learn how to bowl on those. They will also have to learn to bowl on turning pitches, using reverse swing and the cutter."

Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by RichardTheLion on (June 29, 2012, 22:27 GMT)

We all have our wishes however nice they be, we need to look at things in a subjective and practical manner. Lets face it. Malinga struggles to bowl 5 overs at a stretch in a ODI. Has not been that up to his usual mark at fielding. Indications are that we may not even see him in the ODI in a few years. Facing up to facts takes courage. Champaka, sure has a special affection for Malinga, and that affection (heart) is ruling his mind. There is a difference between hope and reality. There is a need to nurture the young and give them the healthy food and nutrition so that they are able to develop a good/strong physique that is also important for the pace bowlers. Scout for the talent at an early stage. This is a key element. Philip Harding. UK

Posted by   on (June 29, 2012, 21:59 GMT)

@SIRSOBERS FYI, IT WAS HIS IPL TEAM WHO HELPED HIM AFTER THE INJURY, SLB HAD LEFT HIM ON HIS OWN AT THAT TIME. SL LOST MALINGA'S LAST TEST ACTUALLY, THAT GALLE PITCH WAS NOT EXACTLY FLAT. HE STRUGGLED ON A FRIENDLIER P.SARA PITCH.

Posted by PrasadGunawardane on (June 29, 2012, 20:58 GMT)

What-ever the things are told by different different people, one thing is sure that Malinga is a seldom type Cricketer. He is neither tall nor strongly built; but his pace, bouncers, tactics, accuracy and world ever best yorkers are supreme to the world Cricket. Having said those, there was an era (around 2008-2009) where some International commentators faintly remembered such a Cricketer who took 4 in 4 in 2007. Unless that incredible recovery in 2009, the name 'Malinga' could have been a small memory for all the analysts and commentators. In fact it would have ended a whole career of such a remarkable talent.So my advice is for him to stay away from Test Cricket, specially in sub-continent. Malinga is more like Gold for SL in coming 2015 WC and no body wants to see him again as a disable with a sinister knee injury. Try to focus on ODIs and T20s and there is no question about Malinga's talent whether he resumes Test Cricket or not!

Posted by LALITHKURUWITA on (June 29, 2012, 20:49 GMT)

Bowl 3 overs at a time in Tests when the bowl is very suitable. But I do not think he should be given special treatment because it will discourage other bowlers.

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (June 29, 2012, 19:22 GMT)

I think it's fair enough for Lasith to play the odd test here and there. For example, a decisive test match to decide a series ! so yeah he can play the format again. But I seriously believe test cricket is a grave yard for fast bowlers especially in the sub-continent. So my advice for Malinga would be a to enjoy his test retirement and focus on T20 and 50 over cricket.

Posted by AKS286 on (June 29, 2012, 17:48 GMT)

malinga & tait took retirement due to IPL & T20 injuries are excuses.

Posted by Sports4Youth on (June 29, 2012, 14:36 GMT)

This was on the cards. He is too good a player to be out for too long and Sri Lanka is struggling without him. The Sri Lanka board would have realised by now that they could not get tough with him regarding the IPL issue, so now he can easliy walk into the team. I personally think all boards should allow the players to make some money when it is possible. After all the Sri Lankan baord hardly pays anything and that too gets dellayed for so long for want of cash.

Posted by spum on (June 29, 2012, 14:21 GMT)

I am sure all this injuries of SL players are due to poor physical fitness. They should have strict physical training, diet and reguler net and field practice. Some time players evade these dicipline, but team physio look in to these problems.

metha

Posted by   on (June 29, 2012, 13:14 GMT)

@Chaminda, mediocre bowling/field coaches LOL? Sri Lanka is probably the best fielding team in Asia, and if you read the article, Bowlers breaking down, isnt really a bowling coaches fault.

Posted by   on (June 29, 2012, 12:50 GMT)

@Haleos I have nothing against Malinga. was only expressing what I observed. and yes, i know that apples cant be compared to oranges!

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