Lasith Malinga, the Sri Lankan fast bowler, has given up Test cricket because of a "long-standing degenerative condition in the right knee". He intends to continue playing the shorter formats, though, and hopes to play in the 2012 World Twenty20 and the 2015 World Cup.
Malinga, 27, made himself unavailable for the upcoming Test tour of England citing his fitness problems, but has been playing for Mumbai Indians in the IPL. Sri Lanka Cricket asked him to return home and undergo a rehabilitation programme, but Malinga has now clarified that his condition stops him from playing only the longest format.
"Although I am sufficiently fit to play both ODI and T20 cricket, I have a long-standing degenerative condition in my right knee that needs to be carefully managed," Malinga's statement read. "The condition relates directly to the chronic knee injury I sustained playing for Sri Lanka in Australia back in February 2008, an injury that prevented me from playing ODI cricket for 16 months.
"The injury was a career-threatening injury and my orthopaedic surgeon was of the opinion that given his experience with other professional athletes in Australia I was very fortunate to play again. I have since been advised by the national team physiotherapist and my orthopaedic consultant that my condition will deteriorate when fielding or bowling for prolonged periods.
"I did try to return to Test cricket after a three-year absence last year [against India] following requests from the team management and the selectors, but it left me unfit nursing severe knee pain for two months.
"I have realised that the heavy workload of Test cricket, which requires a fast bowler to be able to bowl more than 15 overs, sometimes on consecutive days, could lead to permanent injury. I have carefully considered my options and have decided that not playing Test cricket will help me achieve my goal of representing Sri Lanka in the 2012 World Twenty20 and the 2015 World Cup."
Malinga said he was available for all limited-overs internationals, and planned to travel to Sri Lanka soon to discuss his plans with the selectors.
Since his debut in July 2004, Malinga has played only 30 Tests and 84 ODIs. His slingshot round-arm action and focus on pace put a lot of strain on his body, and he was forced to miss several games. His career seemed to have stalled after the Galle Test against England in December 2007, but he returned for the series against India mid-2010. It was, however, a false dawn on his stop-start Test career.