Malinga with miracle Yorker bows out in style | Sunday Observer

Malinga with miracle Yorker bows out in style

He bowed out in style! And all good things came to an end. The time-honored saying rang deafeningly true for Sri Lanka’s right arm ‘sling king’ bowler LASITH MALINGA when he quit the 50-over cricket firmament on Friday after the first one-dayer against Bangladesh at the prestigious R. Premadasa Stadium.

After Sri Lanka batting first made 314 and when Bangladesh began their chase MALINGA, who opened the bowling to thunderclaps as he began his delivery stride and with the fifth ball which was a blinding Yorker knocked the leg stump of opener Tamim Iqbal for zero.

Iqbal attempting to protect his legs from permanent damage jumped like a cat fish, finishing in a kneeling position as if paying homage to bowling god MALINGA as he heard the death rattle of his leg stump.

Later MALINGA produced another stinging Yorker to get rid of Soumyar Sarkar to put Sri Lanka on the sweet sounding victory street and capped it all bidding adieu to all who had gathered to watch his magic in this style of game by pocketing the wicket of last drop Mustafizur Rahman to give the country a thumping 91-run memorable victory bundling out the opponents for 223.

MALINGA’S 3 for 38 gave him a bag full of 338 wickets in 226 ODIs. He is determined to lead the country in the next T20 World Cup in Australia next year. He led the country to its first T20 World Cup triumph in 2014. We wish him well.

When the game ended, MALINGA who turned a new leaf with his rare square armed slinging action, the only one in the world created by the cricketing gods with this action, was hugged by his team mates and thunder claps were heard from the crowd who gave him a farewell meant for CRICKETING ROYALTY.

MALINGA in his illuminating and exemplary career had his critics, who does not? They bayed for his blood when he quit the established game, accusing him of doing so to play in the money bag limited overs game.

He quit not wanting to suffer permanent damage to his back owing to his peculiar action. But he suffered these cricketing fools gladly and did it in the words of that Frank Sinatra perennial ‘MY WAY’. It would have been fitting had he been allowed to lead the team in his final appearance.

MALINGA was tipped to lead the country in the recently concluded World Cup in England and Wales. But it was a cricketing travesty that deprived him.

My school team mate at St. Bens and former Sri Lanka opening batting wicket keeper Ranjit Fernando once told me that MALINGA possesses a rare, clever cricketing captaincy brain that will make him a great success and he has plans on how to dismiss batsmen. But again that, that did not happen can be attributed to destiny.

When he made the announcement that he was quitting the 50-over cricket firmament, there was gloom in not only the local cricket scene but the international scene as well and the gloom was as though a star had fallen from the cricketing firmament.

Many of his thousands of fans and even the sporting Minister of Sport Harin Fernando tried their best to convince him to at least play the series against Bangladesh and then bid adieu.

But the curly, tinted haired MALINGA would have thought and hard before arriving at this decision and he had to humbly say the first one-dayer against Bangladesh was his swan song.

Brings to mind what the former Pakistani all rounder and the one who led them to the World Cup in 1992 and now the Prime Minister Imran Khan said. He said: You must go when everyone is asking why and why not’. Words of wisdom. And MALINGA has followed that creed.

From the moment tickets went on sale for his final appearance, Sri Lanka cricket was flooded by his milling fans braving the steaming heat to purchase a ticket, not a bit worried about the price and days before the game every seat at the RPS was sold out.

Such was the admiration and adoration for this simple, humble lad from Rathgama down South who as a tennis ball bowler with a freak, hitherto unseen slinging action not only locally but internationally broke into the highly respected international cricket land.

Before going on to sing more praises about this rare ‘sling king’, one must not forget and one must commend the man who spotted this gem, on the tennis ball pit, cut and polished it – former Lankan seam bowing all rounder CHAMPIKA RAMANAYAKE.

RAMANAYAKE probably having the attributes of an astrologer saw in MALINGA the unlimited future that beckoned and wasted no time in convincing him and bringing him into the bull ring of the coloured flannelled ‘cowboy game’ and the highly respected Test cricket scene. MALINGA is ever indebted to RAMANAYAKE.

When the writer first saw him, I was amazed at his slinging action, speed and the deadly Yorkers and bouncers he bowled and inside I knew that a sensation that was going to hit the cricket world like a meteorite or tsunani was found.

And he played and lived that way for a near two decades which speaks volumes for his DISCIPLINE, DEDICATION and DETERMINATION to succeed doing the hard work that took him to the cricketing pinnacle.

Maybe he would have loved to sling his devastating, life threatening thunderbolts at batsmen a little longer, but while his mind would have been willing, his body would have sent out the message.

He could have continued longer because today unlike in the past there’s bags of money to be won. But he proved that ‘health is wealth’ and not being greedy for the dangling dollars he quit at his peak and exemplified to those wanting to continue to old age and even on crutches that one must quit with respect and dignity.

I count myself lucky to have been in Guyana, West Indies covering the 2007 World Cup for the ‘Daily News’ and ‘Sunday Observer’ when he took four in four against South Africa which was never performed before. He would have had five-in-five, but how that yorker missed, if I remember right, Robin Peterson’s off stump was inexplicable.

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