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Malinga Test return possible feels Sri Lanka bowling coach

Kanishkaa Balachandran in Colombo

June 28, 2012

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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, 23:27 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, 22:59 GMT)


Posted by PrasadGunawardane on (June 29, 2012, 21:58 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, 21:49 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, 20:22 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, 18:48 GMT)

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

Posted by Sports4Youth on (June 29, 2012, 15:36 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, 15:21 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.


Posted by   on (June 29, 2012, 14:14 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, 13:50 GMT)

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

Posted by nitharsh on (June 29, 2012, 13:10 GMT)

@Sinhaya-mate Champaka knows malinga better than you.

Posted by nitharsh on (June 29, 2012, 13:02 GMT)

I love to see Malinga in tests.But he cant handle the workload.Probably some like eranga,nuwan pradeep or perera must step up in test level.But in one days an T20s i would see both malinga and nuwan pradeep bowling at 140's with the support kula,thisara,jeevan mendis at the other end.

Posted by PHANTOM-X on (June 29, 2012, 11:18 GMT)

@Priceless 1 : Still early days. I really love to see two bowlers bowling 150+ for Sri Lanka and asking questions from opposition batsman,competing with each other to take wickets.....

Posted by Makuz on (June 29, 2012, 11:14 GMT)

@Sinhaya: Mate, I'm pretty sure that Champaka knows Malinga better than you do, So unless Malinga told you personally that he was gonna retire from all forms soon, I suggest that we just sit back and see what happens. If he comes back, great. If he doesn't, well, nothing much would change anyway then.

Posted by Haleos on (June 29, 2012, 10:44 GMT)

Well done Malinga. Would love to seeya back in Tests. bowlers like you should play as long as u can. @Udendra - dont compare oranges with apples mate.

Posted by priceless1 on (June 29, 2012, 8:57 GMT)

@Udendra , Nuwan Pradeep is another Dilhara , im surprised he is playing for a national team

Posted by   on (June 29, 2012, 8:22 GMT)

I am not sure SLC have got money or foresight ( in that matter whole country seems lost with both) but please change these mediocre bowling and fielding coaches

Posted by   on (June 29, 2012, 6:23 GMT)

Nuwan Pradeep seems quicker than Malinga, but he needs to watch his fitness.

Posted by rukii on (June 29, 2012, 6:08 GMT)

sound like a good plan if maling agree with it but recently malinga said that he would retire in all formats in another 2or 3 years.@lakpj i can agree with you regarding other coaches but not with champika most of the local fans know what type of coach he is.

Posted by anver777 on (June 29, 2012, 5:13 GMT)

One test in a very tough series will be a ok...... but since Malinga is very important player in limited overs format, like Champaka said we have to manage him very very carefully for future !!!

Posted by   on (June 29, 2012, 3:32 GMT)

Yes It's very good news. We hope he'll back.

Posted by Sinhaya on (June 29, 2012, 2:56 GMT)

Stop dreaming Champaka! Malinga recently said that he plans to retire from all forms of cricket in the next 2 or 3 years.

Posted by skkh on (June 29, 2012, 2:47 GMT)

This retirement business is becoming funnier by the moment. It was Shahid Afridi before now it is Vettori and Malinga. Maybe next it will be Pietersen !!!

Posted by Tusker17 on (June 29, 2012, 2:15 GMT)

Hopefully he does the right thing !

Posted by   on (June 29, 2012, 1:59 GMT)

Malinga is an out an out match winning bowler, remember he blew India in a flat track in Galle. Great even if he plays 1 test per series

Posted by cdublew on (June 29, 2012, 1:59 GMT)

Malinga is not just a talented bowler and exciting to watch but a great ambassador for the game. He conducts himself well on and off the field. The game needs guys like this to promote the game and make it enjoyable for us all to watch. Good on you Champaka for doing all you can to make this possible.

Posted by whyowhy on (June 29, 2012, 1:16 GMT)

Ahhhhh Haaaaaaa - he will have to or he will not get a contract from SLC - well done SLC there is no room even for performers if they do not play as a team on and off the field. Not only Lasith but all Lankan fast bowlers must be managed cerefully.....

Posted by Lakpj on (June 29, 2012, 0:57 GMT)

@Shafan Saheed there is a big difference being a good player and a good coach. you can't expect a good cricketer to turn up and become a good coach too. it is a totally different art. just think of Greg Chappel, great player but messed up things big time as a coach and imagine people like Jhon Bucannen, Whatmore, moody they weren't great players in their time but turned out to be great coaches with a huge success rates. Chamika is a good coach, he understands stuff very well.

Posted by KingOwl on (June 28, 2012, 23:46 GMT)

Champaka Ramanayaka sounds very sensible. I am glad SL has got a bowling coach who thinks like that.

Posted by BRUTALANALYST on (June 28, 2012, 23:41 GMT)

Lets all be HONEST without IPL he would never have retired in first place, great news for test cricket if true he was to good to already retire.

Posted by   on (June 28, 2012, 23:01 GMT)

this is good news for sri lankan cricket,

Posted by wiseshah on (June 28, 2012, 22:08 GMT)

malinga is an asset like the way shane bond was lone asset for NZ.

Posted by   on (June 28, 2012, 21:37 GMT)

good news!!

Posted by   on (June 28, 2012, 21:04 GMT)

he is the best reverse swing bowler in modern days,he gets his all 3 hattrics and wicket at the death with reverse swing ,unfortunately now no reverse swing in one day cricket with 2new balls,becoz it happens after ball goes older than 30 40 overs, so best opportunity to get wickets with 140+ speed in test,reverse swing is beauty of cricket in past days,now we didint see it more in test cricket also have to be a mature bowler so its good to see him come back again in test

Posted by   on (June 28, 2012, 20:43 GMT)

Sri Lanka need Malinga..He can win a match by his own and last time he proved that against India in Galle..

Posted by   on (June 28, 2012, 20:30 GMT)

One of the reason sri lanka does not produce good quality fast bowlers is CHAMPAKA RAMANAYAKE. we all know how did he bowl on those days...

Posted by bddhika_harindat on (June 28, 2012, 20:15 GMT)

Its a great news that Malinga's possible return to Test cricket and the way in which SL cricket managing fast bowling resources. Also, its a good move by SL cricket to prepare seamer friendly pichtes for the first class competition in the country, so that our players get used to play in seaming conditions and this will benefit them when go on tours like England, Austrailia and South Africa to compat their pace bowlers. Even though Chapaka may not like the move in the short-term, batsmen will get used to these pitches when they continue play for a couple of seasons. So, in the long term, this is the ideal solution, and it is the way going forward, as SL now produces more fast bowlers than before. Good luck!!!

Posted by   on (June 28, 2012, 19:58 GMT)

one test per series is such a idea. love it. But I don't know how Malinga will react. idiotic cricket administration & sport minister is the problem in SL cricket, not the talent.

Posted by   on (June 28, 2012, 19:44 GMT)

Malinga malinga Malinga, Truly a class bowler ...

Posted by rajithwijepura on (June 28, 2012, 19:44 GMT)

LOL. Is it really malinga feels fit again or he is going to loose his possition in T20 and ODI due to not signing the annual contract?

Posted by suve on (June 28, 2012, 19:18 GMT)

This is Great News, I hope Malinga is fit to play Test Cricket again. I really hope he gets to play in the 3rd test vs Pakistan because Sri Lanka don't have another Test Series until October. But If there is a chance that he will get injured, I don't think he should play because that will make him miss ODI's matches too.

Posted by Naren on (June 28, 2012, 19:07 GMT)

Now that the IPL is over he can think about tests. Isn't that how things work? SL should not pick him again in tests. It will be injustice to other players in the team.

Posted by   on (June 28, 2012, 19:03 GMT)

Oh!! Then Toe Crushers to Continue In Tests!! Awesome Lasith...Welcome!!

Posted by   on (June 28, 2012, 18:59 GMT)

idea of playing one match of a series is very important because we have to keep malinga as long as possible. contribution of malinga in test cricket will be very interesting and I hope he will take a positive action for this.

Posted by TheRedox on (June 28, 2012, 18:48 GMT)

On what ground he's giving comments about Malinga's stand?I think this is just a assumption and kindly request Kanishka to do a lengthy interview with Malinga asking all these matters.

Posted by just_chill_chill on (June 28, 2012, 18:45 GMT)

The slinga is back. The problem is that the more he plays the more his action will be exposed and scrutinized. The day is not far when he will be no balled pretty frequently. Better to keep him under wraps and hidden.

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