Lasith Malinga: T10 is a good test for the bowlers

Since a cricketer has a short career-span, if a fast bowler can play all formats of cricket, he should, feels the Sri Lankan veteran.

Lasith Malinga prepares to bowl during the Abu Dhabi T10 League.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

At 37, Lasith Malinga continues to be a match-winning weapon in the armoury of cricket teams. In the T10 League so far, he has a striking economy rate of 7.75, the best among bowlers who have bowled more than six overs in the competition.

The Sri Lankan stalwart, in an interaction with Sportstar, shares his views about the demands of the format for fast bowlers, the value of variations, and more.

Interview

Q) In this ultra short format that is T10, is there room for much planning and strategising or is it more of instinct that takes over?

A) We can’t plan during the match. We have to get our mental preparation and planning before the match – for the right hander, for the left hander. During the match we have a basic plan. Suddenly, if we want to change [it], accordingly we set the field.

In T20, we have a planning before the match, but this game we have to get the bowling combination right. The six balls of an over, you have to manage that and the combination – how many balls you can bowl yorkers, how many balls can you bowl the slower ball, the straighter one, [etc.]. You have to get that mixture pre-planned. Then you can accordingly adjust according to the situation or condition. But you have to plan before the match.

You’ve played a lot of T20 as well as now, the T10. For a fast bowler wanting to excel, what are the differences between the two formats?

I don’t know the difference, but for both the formats, bowlers have to be accurate as bowlers can win the match. That’s the attitude that has to be there. That’s why we are expecting the other bowlers also – they have to trust their skills and they have to read the game and what the team is expecting. If someone knows two things, they have to exactly know what they have to do. You have to be accurate, and you have to have patience.

How important are variations for a fast bowler in T10? Can a one-dimensional bowler survive in this format?

If you want to bowl variations, you want the batsman to mistime the ball, right? That’s why bowlers are bowling variations. If one wants to bowl a dot ball, no one wants to bowl variations. Every bowler wants to bowl variations because he wants to get a wicket and the batsman mistimes the ball. The variation is important, but before that you have to understand game situation – how many runs they need to get.

Although retired from ODIs, Lasith Malinga continues to play in T20 leagues around the world.   -  GETTY IMAGES

 

If I did these, what’s going to happen? If someone tries to get a wicket at a time boundaries are needed to be minimised, then you have to bowl your stock ball. I don’t think anyone has a stock ball that is a variation. You have to bowl your stock ball and minimise the damage. Someone wants to get a wicket, someone is expecting to get a wicket, then you can use your variations. Variations are a very dangerous thing to use, but [if]someone has that game reading, he can use that variation very tactically.

How important is temperament, especially in a format like the T10? A bowler only has to marginally err or without even having erred in line or length, he can get hit for sixes. They would often have to come across a batsman on a rampage like Chris Lynn.

That’s the good test for the bowlers. They can see how their skill-controlling [ability is]. I think that’s a very important thing. In [shorter formats], all the years – maybe last five years, maybe last 10 years, they’re trying their yorkers, they’re learning their slower balls. Whatever their skill-training is, this is the test – how accurate are you to defend [yourself] or survive against the batsman. This is a good test for the bowlers.

In today’s era, playing all three formats and also T10 would be challenging for a fast bowler. Players like Jasprit Bumrah, Kagiso Rabada and Pat Cummins play all formats. Not only is there a lot of cricket and different demands for different formats, there is also the constant travelling and a homesickness to deal with. In these circumstances, how can a player fight fatigue and keep his mind and body fresh?

A cricketer’s career is very short. Someone’s career is one year, someone’s career is 15 years. You never know. Someone has a big injury, his career is finished. This is a professional joke. I feel a cricketer has to play the maximum matches during his period – doesn’t matter [whether] it’s [international cricket], doesn’t matter [it’s] franchise cricket, he has to look after his body.

Lasith Malinga has played an influential role in the rise of India's premier fast bowler, Jaspprit Bumrah. (File Photo)   -  Vivek Bendre

 

At the end of the day, a player is going to be forgotten by world cricket, but what he has done or what he has achieved, is still there. If you want to achieve something, you have to play. The body is maintained by you, yes. You have to do all the hard work to maintain your body, but I feel if you can play any other cricket – doesn’t matter it’s Test cricket, doesn’t matter it’s ODI or T20 or T10, whatever it is, you are the cricketer, you have to play maximum cricket.

Injuries can serve as a big blow to a fast bowler. With the non-stop cricket, how can a fast bowler minimise injuries?

Injuries can come to a fast bowler, a spinner or a batsman, it doesn’t matter. We can’t minimise injuries. We can [play to] our strength and we can’t know when we’re going to get injured. Suddenly, a super-fit guy can get injured. We see in world cricket, anyone can get injured. I feel whoever wants to play cricket, you have to play like ‘this is my last match’.

Then you can give your 100 percent for that game. Otherwise, if you feel ‘if I do this, I will get injured’, then you’re not doing your 100 percent for the team. Injuries we can’t control. We can control our performance, our effort. I feel anyone wants to play cricket, you have to put your 100 percent effort.

Finally, you recently retired from the ODI format. You’ve been playing ODIs since 2004. Please share with us your favourite ODI memory.

My World Cup in 2007 we were in the final. We were runners-up then. I got a hat-trick [in one of the matches] in the tournament. Most of the matches I remember my performance. I remember all my wickets. End of my cricketing career, in the last World Cup, we won against England.

That’s a memorable match for me because it was my last World Cup and I’m 37 years old now. At this age, too, [the fact that] I could be a match-winning bowler in that match [made me happy].

 

(The writer is in Abu Dhabi on an invitation from Abu Dhabi T10 League)

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