Sri Lanka give 'IPL' Malinga insurance for future?

Appointing him T20 vice-captain likely to anger many fans

Sri Lankan cricket selectors have shown they lack foresight by appointing Lasith Malinga as deputy to Angelo Mathews who was named as the team's Twenty20 captain.

Mathews was an automatic choice having served as deputy to Mahela Jayawardene who stepped down after the World Twenty20 final.

"It’s a good time to bring in a new captain who can ease into the job and quietly take control of the team," former Sri Lankan cricketer Russel Arnold wrote in his column in, while talking about Jayawardene's resignation.
"In the T20 format, Sri Lanka can start looking forward to the 2014 World Twenty20 and build a team in that format. The new man can be groomed slowly to learn the pressures of the game and be allowed to grow into the role. At the end of the day, Test cricket is the tougher challenge, so some experience will always help for the future.

"I see no other candidate other than Angelo Mathews for the job."

Although chief selector Ashantha de Mel also hinted they were considering forming a separate T20 squad with an eye on the next World Cup in 2014, they have opted for experience by giving Malinga a leadership role.

Malinga has been a great servant of Sri Lanka cricket but the 29-year-old pace ace he certainly doesn't represent the future.

Big-hitting all-rounder Thisara Perera would have been a better choice since he is 23 and has many more years of cricket left in him.

After Sri Lanka's batting imploded during the World Cup Twenty20 final against West Indies, even De Mel suggested that in future he would plonk for batsmen who could sixers.

Perera fits the bill perfectly for the truncated version of the game because of his ability to clear the ropes easily as an impact.

World Cup winning West Indies captain Darren Sammy also affirmed that Twenty20 was increasingly becoming a batsman's game.

Perera has become a vital cog in Sri Lanka's one-day and Twenty20 team which goes in his favour unlike the other two prospective candidates for the vice-captaincy Jeewan Mendis and Dinesh Chandimal.

Picking Malinga goes against the grain of thinking of grooming a young T20 side for the future.

He represents the failed past and is likely to be an unpopular choice of Sri Lankan fans angered by his affinity with the IPL (Indian Premier League).

Having retired from Test cricket to prolong his career because of a knee injury, Malinga's prima donna attitude on the field has not gone unnoticed.

He even angered a Sri Lankan fan in Dubai when they were here for the series against Pakistan who was ignored completely when he sought an autograph after bumping into him in a shopping mall.

Are the selectors giving him insurance by appointing him as vice-captain for one year?

Arguably his skills are on the decline, even allowing for the fact that he had a bad day in the office during the World Twenty20 final.

"The year 2012 hasn’t been particularly happy for Malinga. There have been a number of highs for him, but there also have been occasions where he has been taken to the cleaners – something that was considered impossible at a point in time. It wasn’t the number of runs he conceded, but the manner in which he was demolished by some of the batsmen was astonishing," wrote cricket analyst Nishad Pad Vaidya in website.

"It is baffling that a bowler of Malinga’s calibre has conceded runs at such a haemorrhaging rate on four occasions in ODIs this year. To concede over 70 runs in a ten over spell is expensive in the fifty over game and there have been instances where he has breached that mark without completing his quota," he added.

His decline began when India's Virat Kohli took him to the cleaners.

"Malinga’s expensive burst came back to haunt Sri Lanka at the worst possible time – the final of the ICC World T20 2012," he pointed out.

Malinga finished with figures of 4-0-54-0 having conceded 50 runs in the last three overs.

"In hindsight, that was the difference between the two sides as Sri Lanka collapsed under the pressure and all the good work put in by the other bowlers was in vain," summed up Vaiyda.

Malinga may be the second highest wicket taker in the T20 format and the darling of Mumbai Indians, but the question is whether he is still a potent force for Sri Lanka to appoint him vice-captain.



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