Sri Lankan legend closes out playing career.
Sri Lankan great Lasith Malinga announced his retirement from T20 cricket on Tuesday, effectively calling time on his cricketing career, as the shortest format was the only one he hadn’t retired from.
Malinga, who had retired from Tests in 2011 and ODIs in 2019, had kept his option in the game’s shortest format open. Having not been picked since March 2020, Malinga officially called time on his 15-year T20 career which started off against England in Southampton in 2006.
Quite aptly, the Sri Lankan finishes having played his final T20 game at home. He had announced his retirement from franchise cricket in January this year and was even released by the Mumbai Indians.
Malinga retires from the format as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, and his bowling figures of 390 wickets from 295 T20 games stand head and shoulders above everyone else. He finishes with a strike rate of 16.60, an economy of 7.07 and a remarkable average of 19.68. He also has two T20 international hat-tricks and even managed to emulate his “four wickets in four balls” feat from ODIs in T20 cricket.
Malinga was also the first bowler to take 100 T20 international wickets and is fourth on the all-time highest wicket takers’ list.
Announcing his retirement via his YouTube channel, Malinga said:
“Today is a very special day for me. I want to thank each one of you who have supported me throughout my T20 career. Today I have decided to give 100 per cent rest to my T20 bowling shoes.
“I want to thank Sri Lanka cricket board, Mumbai Indians, Melbourne Stars, Kent Cricket Club, Rangpur Riders, Guyana Warriors, Maratha Warriors and Montreal Tigers. I now want to share my experience with young cricketers who want to play franchise cricket and for their national team.
“While my shoes rest, my love for the game will never ask for rest. Looking forward to seeing our youngsters make history.”
Malinga’s legacy lies not only in Sri Lanka but across world cricket. Being one of the modern-day greats who brought back the yorker, a generation of fast bowlers have looked at the Sri Lankan as the benchmark for the delivery.
Malinga also played an important role with the Indian Premier League side, the Mumbai Indians, where he was since the first season of the IPL until 2020. He helped the side win a record five IPL trophies and was instrumental in the rise and success of Indian spearhead Jasprit Bumrah. Bumrah has regarded Malinga as an inspiration and mentor, especially when the Indian pacer was starting off with MI and has spoken extensively about the help and influence Malinga has had over him.
Known for his unorthodox action and the dipping slower ball yorkers, Malinga led the Sri Lankan attack since the late 2000s and even led his country to a World Cup win during the 2014 T20 World Cup, which is bound to be his greatest achievement.
Even though the Sri Lankan team did not win any other ICC trophies during that time, the consistency of the team that reached two ODI World Cup Finals (2007 and 2011) and the finals of the 2012 and 2009 T20 World Cup aside from their 2014 triumph was largely due to Malinga’s presence and him leading the Sri Lankan bowling attack, which was moulded around him.
Apart from his international record, his franchise cricket records stand out as well, as he leaves the sport as the Indian Premier League’s all-time highest wicket taker with 170 scalps. Aside from finishing as the league’s highest wicket taker in 2011, the Sri Lankan is also regarded as one of the tournament’s greatest and most consistent players.