Veteran Sri Lankan star Lasith Malinga said he was “very happy” to make way for younger players as he calls time on his illustrious 15-year career in the 50-over format.
Malinga will play his final one-day international in Colombo Friday in the first of three ODIs against Bangladesh, but hopes to continue playing in the shorter T20 format.
“I am very happy to leave at this time. This is an opportunity for new players to prove themselves and prepare for the next World Cup,” Malinga, 35, told reporters Thursday at the team’s final training session.
“We may have had some setbacks, but we have the capability to win another World Cup,” he added, pointing to Sri Lanka’s success at the 1996 World Cup and 2014 T20 World Cup.
Malinga — known for his trademark blond-highlighted mop and piercings — called on cricket administrators to be patient with up-and-coming stars and let them develop ahead of the next ODI World Cup.
“The young players need to believe that they can deliver. They need to be dedicated and develop to a level that they can decide for themselves when they go to the middle,” Malinga said.
Two days ago, Malinga posted a video message on his wife’s Facebook page saying he felt no ill will towards officials and players who may have tried to push him out of the ODI team.
He said he was sidelined by selectors two years ago but was able to prove his value at the recent World Cup, where he took four for 43 in Sri Lanka’s group-stage win over eventual champions England.
Malinga has his sights on next year’s T20 World Cup in Australia, and Sri Lanka’s cricket board confirmed he would be available for selection for the T20 squad.
Malinga is leaving as Sri Lanka’s third-highest wicket-taker in ODI cricket with 335 wickets in 219 innings so far since his first ODI against the United Arab Emirates in 2004.
Only Muttiah Muralitharan (523) and Chaminda Vaas (399) have taken more wickets than Malinga in ODIs for Sri Lanka.
He was Sri Lanka’s highest wicket-taker at the World Cup, claiming 13 scalps in seven innings.
Malinga retired from Test cricket in 2011 but continued to remain available in other formats.