Cricket: Sri Lanka’s Malinga ready to put country before IPL cash

Lasith Malinga

Sri Lanka’s limited-overs captain Lasith Malinga says he is ready to sacrifice his earnings from the lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL) in order to win a place in the country’s World Cup squad.

Selectors have made it mandatory for Sri Lanka players to participate in a 50-overs tournament at home if they want to be considered for selection in the 15-member squad for the May 30-July 14 Cricket World Cup in England and Wales.

“I had asked the board for the No-Objection Certificate for me to play in the IPL, and they had said that was fine, but that all players who want to go to the World Cup would need to stay back for the provincial tournament,” Malinga told ESPNcricinfo.

“So I told them I’d play in the provincial tournament, and I asked the board to inform Mumbai Indians and IPL, since it was their decision. I’m ok with losing those earnings from IPL. I’m doing it for the country.”

Malinga also said he would retire after the T20 World Cup in Australia next year.

“After the World Cup, my cricketing career is ending,” Malinga said on the ICC website. “I want to play in the T20 World Cup and then end my career.”

The 35-year-old fast bowler, who has taken the most wickets (154 in 110 matches) since the first edition of the IPL in 2008, was bought by the Mumbai franchise for 20 million Indian rupees ($289,184.50) in the January auction.

He had worked as a bowling mentor for the same team after going unsold in 2018.

Mumbai Indians coach Mahela Jayawardene said the tournament had not been in Sri Lanka’s schedule when Malinga was picked up in the auction.

“When we got Malinga in the auction, Sri Lanka Cricket gave us his availability schedule. That (domestic) tournament wasn’t a part of that,” Jayawardene told reporters on Saturday.

“There’s a conversation to be made. Once we get through that conversation, we’ll know exactly what’s happening.”

Malinga is currently leading the Sri Lanka limited-overs team in South Africa with one Twenty20 match remaining in the series.

“Once I become available for Mumbai Indians, I would have missed seven or eight games,” Malinga added. “So there’s probably no point in them waiting around for me. Better for them to find someone else to replace me with.”

His absence could affect Mumbai’s pace attack after Jayawardene said New Zealand fast bowler Adam Milne has not recovered from a swollen heel.

“Adam Milne is not 100 percent, he might not be able to be a part of the extended IPL,” Jayawardene added. “We’ve realised that we need a replacement. We’re considering that but we’ve got enough resources.”

($1 = 69.16 Indian rupees)