Malinga mulling his playing future

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Lasith Malinga is mulling his playing future after being overlooked for the latest Sri Lanka T20 squad. Although the 34-year old fast bowler had initially hoped to play in the 2019 World Cup – using the 2018 IPL as a starting point for his preparations – he went unsold in January’s auction. For Sri Lanka, the ongoing tour of Bangladesh is the second successive overseas assignment Malinga has been omitted for.

Lasith Malinga bowls in the nets (AFP photo)

“I’m not sure to what extent I’ll be able to carry on playing in the future,” he told ESPNcricinfo before leaving for an ice cricket exhibition match in Switzerland. “Right now I am thinking of playing in the domestic one-day tournaments to see what my injuries are like. But I haven’t made a decision on anything.”

Though not playing in the IPL, Malinga will be with the Mumbai Indians squad during the tournament, having been named as a bowling mentor. If he has in fact played his final international match, he would like the opportunity to take up more such appointments – though he has said he would stop short of taking an official coaching role.

“I’ve learned a lot about cricket and bowling through my career, so it would be great to have the opportunity to pass that knowledge on to a younger group of players,” Malinga said. “I’ve already been able to do that a little with Jasprit Bumrah at the IPL. If the Sri Lankan team wants me, I think it would be great if I could help the next generation of Sri Lankan bowlers also.”

Malinga had been the leader of Sri Lanka’s limited-overs attack for several years, and had been instrumental in devising the bowling plan that won Sri Lanka the 2014 World T20. Although clearly past his best years in 2017, the selectors had made the point that his presence in the squad was a boon to less experienced bowlers.

“I don’t know how my injuries will hold up, and whether I will be picked for the next World Cup. But if I can go as a consultant even, that would be a joy for me.”

If Malinga does play the List A club tournament, which begins in about two months, he may still have a chance of being considered again for national duty.

“What we have told all players is that if they want to play for Sri Lanka, they have to play domestic cricket,” chief selector Graeme Labrooy said. “That I think is the challenge for Lasith. But we don’t write anyone off. Depending on his form and fitness in domestic cricket, we would consider him.” (ESPNCricinfo)

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