Sri Lanka cricket officials cast doubt on Lasith Malinga’s injury claims by saying it is “awkward” that he plays in the lucrative IPL while saying he is unfit for the upcoming Test series in England.
Chief selector Duleep Mendis said on Wednesday that Malinga wrote to the board to say he was unavailable for the three Tests starting from May 26.
“It looks a bit awkward that he (Malinga) says that he is injured and continues to play cricket,” Mendis said.
“When a player says he is injured we want him to undergo a rehabilitation programme immediately without playing cricket.”
Mendis said the selectors will inform the fast bowler, a standout in 30 Tests and 84 one-dayers, that he should be fit to play for the national team.
Malinga’s choice has reopened the country-versus-club debate.
Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage said national team players in the IPL will have to return home early for practices before travelling to England. He said in future, permission for players to participate in foreign leagues will be given only when it doesn’t affect the national cricket calendar.
Besides Malinga, captain Tillakaratne Dilshan, former skipper Kumar Sangakkara and star Mahela Jayawardene are playing for various franchises in the IPL.
Indian cricket authorities asked Sri Lanka to reconsider their decision to ask the players to return by May 5, but the ruling will not be changed, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) secretary Nishantha Ranatunga said.
Dilshan, chosen as Sri Lanka’s new captain this week, said the players will abide by the decision.
“It’s a good decision taken with the interests of Sri Lankan cricket at heart. It’s important to play for the country,” he said.
But retired spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, who is no longer bound by a contract with SLC, told Indian media it was unfair to ask the players to return home when the authorities agreed to let the players play in the IPL until May 20.
The first tour match in England begins May 14, and the first Test starts May 26 in Cardiff.