Lasith Malinga    Getty Images
Lasith Malinga Getty Images

Sri Lanka‘s pace spearhead Lasith Malinga lashed out at the country’s sports ministers for blaming the national side’s fitness due to their forgettable campaign in recently-concluded ICC Champions Trophy 2017. The sports minister, Dayasiri Jayasekara, had questioned the team’s fitness level after they dropped three catches (regulation ones) in their must-win encounter against eventual champions, Pakistan, at Cardiff. Sri Lanka won only one game, against India, to bow out of the competition in the group stage.

“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. 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 stated in Sinhalese to a local website.

“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. 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,” Malinga added.

Jayasekara had advised the Sri Lankan side to undergo army style fitness training, to which the pacer replied, “The war is over. No one is need 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 concluded.