Lasith Malinga urged the next generation of Sri Lankan bowlers to “be a match-winner” after signing off from ODI cricket with 3-38 in the first match against Bangladesh – a bowling performance filled with those typical unplayable yorkers.
Malinga, 35, showed he still had what it takes at the highest level, but said he was calling it quits simply to ensure there is enough time to prep the youngsters ahead of the 2023 World Cup.
“I’ve played the last 15 years for Sri Lanka. Really an honour to play, and really happy to play for these people and for all the crowd that’s been behind me,” he said in the post-match presentation.
— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) July 26, 2019
“I feel this is the time I have to move on, because we have to build for the 2023 World Cup and that’s why I realised, ‘OK, my time is up, I have to go’.”
Malinga was first and foremost a wicket-taker. His captains over the course of a 15-year career turned to him when they needed breakthroughs and match-winning moments. Malinga hoped the next generation would continue in a similar vein.
“My captains expect me to take wickets,” he said. “I tried my best all through my career. I hope all the young bowlers do this as well. Because just surviving in cricket, I don’t think anyone can go far. You have to be a match-winner.
If I had to pick one match winner among many others for @mipaltan in the last decade, this man will be on the top for sure. As a captain he give me breather during tense situation and he never failed to deliver, such was his presence within the team. Best wishes LM for the future pic.twitter.com/gJJJKy8gL3
— Rohit Sharma (@ImRo45) July 26, 2019
“That’s what I’m looking forward to in the future. These young bowlers have to get match-winning performances, and people have to tell that’s a match-winning bowler. We have a couple of guys, they have the ability, we have to look after them.”
Fittingly, Malinga claimed the last wicket of the match to seal victory, and it was important to him that Sri Lanka won, given their inconsistent form over the last few years. “These days we haven’t had the momentum to get wins,” he said. “Whether I’m retiring or not, winning is very important. We are a young team and we are looking forward to win.”