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Lasith Malinga, the Sri Lanka fast bowler, has said that he was not looked after by his country's board after his career-threatening knee injury and it was the IPL that helped him get his career back on track. Malinga, who announced his retirement from Test cricket last week, injured his knee in early 2008, and didn't play for Sri Lanka again till August 2009. He played a few List A games in Sri Lanka in early 2009, but it was his performance in the 2009 IPL, during which he took 18 wickets for Mumbai Indians, that brought him back into the limelight.
"Because of the IPL I got a chance to come back to the national team," he said at a media conference in Colombo. "After the injury nobody looked after me and I was not offered a contract. The 2008 interim committee did not care for my well-being. But thanks to the IPL I didn't lose anything but I improved my cricket a lot. I'm saddened the way I was treated but not disappointed."
Malinga had announced his Test retirement after Sri Lanka Cricket questioned his decision to declare himself unfit for their upcoming Test series in England, while continuing to play in the IPL. On Tuesday, Malinga reiterated his stand that he was fit enough to play only the shorter formats of the game, and explained the gravity of the injury he sustained three years ago.
"I'm not injured but I'm not physically fit to play Test cricket after my injury. If I play in a Test match it would take a longer period for me to recover. The time taken to recover after playing Twenty20 and 50-over cricket is much less.
"My doctors in Australia had said that mine was a rare type of injury and that I would not be able to play again. But thanks to president Mahinda Rajapaksa's private physician Dr Eliyantha White who treated me, I was able to play for the national team again."
In response to criticism that he had chosen the IPL for its riches, Malinga said his retirement from Tests had nothing to do with money. "The Test retirement was never about money. I can't be a commentator, coach or umpire. But I can bowl well and get wickets. It's unfair to say money was the root cause of my decision."
Malinga, who played for his country in 30 Tests, is only the third Sri Lanka bowler to take 100 Test wickets (101) after Muttiah Muralitharan (800 wickets) and Chaminda Vaas (355 wickets). He said he rued not being able to play Tests but it was necessary to take that step in order to elongate his career.
"I'm very much delighted to play for my country but unfortunately I have to retire from Test cricket. I don't hope to play for longer than maybe another three or four years. I will work with full dedication to represent my country in the 2012 World Twenty20 and the 2015 World Cup."
Malinga returned to Sri Lanka on Monday to have talks with the Sri Lankan cricket officials and selectors. He is due to fly back to Mumbai on Tuesday night to re-join his IPL franchise.