Lasith Malinga, Sri Lanka’s strike bowler for so many years, signed out of one-day international cricket with a reminder of just how good he is, taking 3/38 in his side’s 91-run win against Bangladesh.
Malinga finished with 338 wickets in 226 matches – going ahead of Anil Kumble to be ninth on the all-time list – wrapping things up nicely with a wicket off his final ball at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo on Friday, 26 July.
Having proved he still has what it takes, he insisted it was the right time to retire as Sri Lanka begin rebuilding for the next World Cup. His will be big shoes to fill, but the pace bowler, who will turn 36 next month, urged the younger generation to step up.
“My captains expect me to take wickets,” Malinga said at the post-match presentation. “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.
“That’s what I’m looking forward to in the future. These young bowlers have to get match-winning performances and people have to say, ‘That’s a match-winning bowler!’ We have a couple of guys, they have the ability, we have to look after them.”
Malinga, who was the top wicket-taker for Sri Lanka at the recent ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019 as well, chose to bow out in front of the home crowd, and they turned out in good voice to send him off.
“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. “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’.”