Dilanka Manakkara, in Daily News, 29 January 2011
He steals the spot light with his toe crushers, bouncers and wicket taking ability and also his ‘Lion like’ hair style, breath taking tattoos and piercings. He is Lasith ‘slinger’ Malinga who is one of Lanka’s best match winners and this author met up with him and had a chat about his much spoken test retirement, about the World Cup and the Melbourne miracle. Here are some excerpts from the interview.
1. Why have you dropped about 10km/h in speed? I hardly see you bowl at 145 anymore? Is it because of your injury. Did you cut down the speed because of injury, or is it because you are concerned on bowling economically?
I have always been an attacking bowler and I try to take wickets. I would rather bowl wicket taking deliveries that will even go for runs than be containing. I have reduced my speed due to the injury that I suffered.2. I have seen you bowl a lot of slower balls in the death overs more than Yorkers in the recent past. Earlier you were renowned for your toe crushing yorkers in the death overs. Reasons for that?
Well according to the match situation I will bowl. If I have to attack I will bowl more yorkers and if I have to defend I will rely more on slower balls which are misread by the batsmen.I have developed a variety of slower balls,so I like to use them sparingly.
3. What is your interest in playing Test cricket? How hard is it for you to play Test cricket with your action and the threat of injuries?
I couldn’t play in tests for the last three years due to my leg injury. As my action exerts a lot of pressure on my legs. I played for Murali’s farewell test because Murali asked me to do so and again I got injured. I coudn’t even run for one and a half years because of the injury and I took a long time to recover as I coudn’t even run or do any fitness routines. I don’t think that I can play more test matches in the future. Well I don’t think that I can play five days of test cricket because there is a huge possibility of me getting injured and I won’t be able to play in ODIs as well. Most probably I will retire from test cricket soon.
5. Are you retiring from test cricket to prolong your ODI and T 20 career?
I think I am better off playing ODIs and T 20 for my country rather than playing one test and breaking down and never being able to play again.If I play in Odis and T 20s I could serve my country more as a strike bowler and play for a few more years.
6. How is your injury now? How fit are you now?
I am still not 100 percent as I am still recovering from the injury. I will have to give up test cricket to reduce my future injuries and I am raring to go in the shorter formats.
7. You played a memorable knock in Melbourne which formed a miraculous win for us. Have you improved your batting?
Ha ha (laughing).Well that Melbourne innings was a miracle itself. My role in the team is as a bowler and not as a batsman,but if the team needs me to contribute 10,15 runs I am up for it.
8. The World Cup will be played in three brand new venues with the pitches and even the conditions would be alien to us. Your thoughts on this?
Well, we have played all around the world and if the World Cup was in another country,again it would be a new venue for us. People will praise us if we win and they will criticize us if we lose,thats how it goes. I don’t give much prominence for these uncontrollable factors such as conditions and pitch as it is how we perform according to the match situation that will result in a victory or a defeat.
9. Talk about that memorable knock in Melbourne. 8 wickets were gone for 107 runs when you came to the crease and did you ever think that we could win it?
Ha ha(laughing). No, honestly not, the match was gone from us and I just tried to score some runs because there was no point of hanging around.
10. Then you took the Powerplay and scored 40 odd runs along with Angelo.
Well I played some shots and some connected and some did not. Angi was the specialist batsman and he also pushed for the singles and hit a few fours in the Powerplay and suddenly 200 was up on the board.
11. What was the talk with Angelo when we scored 200? Were you going to go for some big hits?
I told Angi that only 30 runs is needed so I will just shield one end and you score the thirty runs. He played aggressively and hit some brilliant strokes and we were so close to the winning target and the match was tied and we needed only one run.
12. How was the pressure when the scores were even and you got run out?
Laughing..Angi told me that we are not going to lose the match because the scores are even and told me to do anything and then I tried to hit a four but coudn’t connect. The field was set on the defensive,so I thought of stealing a single but unfortunately I was run out. But Murali scored a four somehow and we won it.