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Lasith Malinga (File photo)

Lasith Malinga, also known as Slinga, has now got his ‘arm’ entangled in a conflict with his paymaster Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC). Newspaper reports revealed that the pace bowler had made himself available for Mumbai Indians at the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL). The professional cricketer must learn fast that he is no longer free to take decisions on his own. He has to consider the views of his paymaster, SLC, with whom he has a contact. SLC showed a lot of uneasiness when Malinga went to India for the new IPL season. The cricket authorities at Maitland Crescent wanted their doctors to clear Malinga, in which case they (SLC) would have given the cricketer a no objection letter to go play in the IPL.

But the IPL medical experts ruled him out, citing the longstanding injury the player was carrying. Now this directs loads of criticism towards Malinga, akin to a reckless driver getting pummelled by the public following a road accident. As much as Malinga has a responsibility to maintain fitness in his endeavour to represent Sri Lanka at cricket, he also has a responsibility towards the islanders’ spectators in keeping them entertained.

We all know for a fact that though Malinga is a favourite when it comes to opening bowling for Sri Lanka, he is not a darling with the crowd because he is self-centred. When he blamed the selectors for including him for this year’s T 20 World Cup despite being injured, he projected a picture of being a true sportsman. We observed from his actions at the T 20 World Cup that he understood ‘professionalism’.  When a professional is far from being fit, he pulls out of a squad for two reasons; one is for his safety and the other is because he acknowledges the existence of other paid cricketers who are knocking on the door to make the team.

But when Malinga made himself available for the ongoing cash-rich IPL, immediately after the T 20 World Cup, it suggested that he was not taking enough responsibility regarding his injury. This player is a national asset and should not risk aggravating a career-threatening injury just because IPL organizers are enticing players with big money. Malinga is yet to respond to the news reports that are making the rounds that he was ruled out of the IPL by a team of medical professionals hired by Mumbai Indians. This news reaching us from India suggests that Malinga’s decision to play in the IPL is not one that has been taken by a mature cricketer. It also suggests that he read the situation regarding his injury very wrong. For the record Malinga was declared injured a few days ago by a panel of medical experts in Sri Lanka which comprised Prof. Arjuna de Silva, Dr. Thusitha Wijesinghe and Dr. Harindu Wijesinghe.

Like all other present generation cricketers, Malinga too made the long trek to obtain national recognition with the support and the blessings of SLC. He should never forget that SLC funds were invested on him to make him what he is today. From the days when he began his association with the SLC as a net bowler and right until now he has been watched with interest by Sri Lanka’s coaching team and administrators. It always offers you that little cushion, in case you fall, when you work for an institute. Being alone, a fall for a sportsman can be nasty, even painful.

This is a period which we refer to as ‘me era’. Everybody will ask the question ‘what is in it for me’ before committing to do anything these days. In these selfish times we live, it is commendable to hear that spin bowler Rangana Herath has quit playing limited overs cricket and wants to concentrate on the Test version of the sport with the blessings of the SLC. Malinga should take a cue from Herath. A blessing is like rain. Prosperity is assured where there is blessing.

Lasith Malinga  (2)