Lasith Malinga slams sports minister for harsh comments on players' fitness

Lasith Malinga slams sports minister for harsh comments on players’ fitness

"Suddenly we lose a game and then everything is wrong and we have problems with fitness," he quoted.

Lasith Malinga
Lasith Malinga. (© Ishara S.KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images)

Veteran Sri Lanka pace bowler Lasith Malinga has come out in defence of the players of the national side. Team Sri Lanka had a rather disappointing outing in the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 where they crashed out of the tournament before the semi-finals. In the virtual quarter final game against Pakistan, the players dropped three regulation catches and that somehow contributed to Sri Lanka’s exit from the tournament.

The sports minister in Sri Lanka had then trashed the players with harsh remarks over their fitness. Lasith Malinga looked clearly unimpressed when he was informed about the same. In a conversation with a local website, Malinga slammed the minister back for his baseless remarks. He cited that even the best fielders can drop catches in big games. He rightly reminded people that the same team has made it to the World Cup finals on numerous occasions.

“Even the best of fielders can drop catches. Those who are talking without any knowledge on the game can mutter that catches were dropped because players were not fit. But if you know the game, you see the best of fielders dropping catches. The armchair critics can say things, but when you are on the field, you have to take quick decisions and sometimes they go wrong. I don’t have time to respond to people who are sitting on easy chairs and making allegations,” quoted Lasith Malinga.

“We have reached five World Cup finals. In order to get cheap popularity people may say things, but I would like to ask what have they done for the sport. I heard the Sports Minister had told that players are overweight. There is a fitness test today and we shall see who are the fastest runners in the team. That will shut the mouths of these armchair critics,” Malinga added.

The ministers approve the fitness

Lasith Malinga further noted that the ministers often approve the squad when the team is announced by the selectors. If there were concerns over the fitness of certain players, then why did they get picked in the squad at the first place, questioned Malinga. He also remarked that when the team had beaten India, nobody questioned the fitness. All questions surfaced the media after their defeat to Pakistan. Malinga clearly looked dejected at the double standards.

“I would like to mention these players perform and the selectors pick them. Eventually the Minister of Sports approves that squad. I suppose even for Champions Trophy the minister had to approve the squad. I would like to ask as to how the Minister can question the very team that he himself approved. He will become a joke in society. He is contradicting himself,” Malinga noted.

“We beat India. Then all was well and good. No one had issues with our fitness. Suddenly we lose a game and then everything is wrong and we have problems with fitness. That is simply being opportunistic to stay away from criticism. Before fingers are being pointed towards him, he is trying to divert the criticism at us,” the pacer added.

People at different levels of fitness

He further cited the example of South African batting mainstay Hashim Amla. He noted that Amla is superb with the bat but can definitely not match the standards of AB de Villiers in the field. Different players have different levels of fitness.

“The war is over. Nobody needs to join the Army now. We have physios to look after the fitness. Fitness in cricket is different from player to player. People should be intelligent when they talk about these issues. Hashim Amla was world’s number one batsman, but his fitness levels were different from that of AB de Villiers,” Malinga rightly pointed out.