What’s the story?
Sri Lankan fast bowler Lasith Malinga has landed himself in controversy by referring to the nation’s sports minister as a ‘monkey’ following the latter’s remarks aimed at the Champions Trophy squad criticising the players for being overweight.
Despite a surprise win over India when they chased down a target of 322 with seven wickets in hand, the Angelo Mathews-led side were knocked out in the group stage itself after they lost to eventual champions Pakistan in their third game.
Following the team’s exit, Sri Lankan sports minister Dayasiri Jayasekara had ordered the team’s results to be analysed and even threatened that players could be left out of the squad if their body fat count is more than the globally accepted level.
While the minister didn’t specifically name any Sri Lankan cricketer, Malinga was infuriated by the remarks and responded in a cheeky manner, saying that he didn’t care about comments from someone who is not performing their duties responsibly.
"What does a monkey know about a parrot's nesting hollow?" he opined. "This is like a monkey getting into a parrot's nest and talking about it."
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Despite being one of the most successful fast bowlers in Sri Lankan history, Malinga has had his fair share of run-ins with the national cricket authorities over a number of issues. The secretary of Sri Lanka Cricket, Mohan de Silva, had in 2016 publically criticised the seamer for his erratic behaviour and asked him to pay due care to his body in order to extend his career.
There were accusations of Malinga being overweight during the series against Pakistan back in 2015 and it seems the speedster has taken the Sri Lankan minister’s comments as a jibe aimed at him and hence the response.
Malinga has also found himself in SLC’s bad books with his participation in the Indian Premier League with Mumbai Indians. He is the most successful bowler in the tournament’s history and played a crucial role in the side winning the 2017 IPL title for the third time.
He missed Sri Lanka’s high-altitude training prior to the Champions Trophy as a result and his performances at the ICC event was less than impressive as he picked up only 3 wickets, conceding 179 runs at a run a ball.
Following Sri Lanka’s exit, Jayasekara had said that most of the players in the squad were overweight with body fat amounts of more than 25% while the globally accepted level is only 16%.
He clarified that his comments were not aimed at anyone specifically, let alone Malinga, and criticised the pacer for making it a personal issue.
The Sri Lankan cricket board has not taken Malinga’s remarks lightly and have ordered an investigation into the alleged remarks.
The national team is set to host Zimbabwe in a five-match ODI series starting from June 30, followed by a solitary Test and it is highly likely that some sort of disciplinary action will be initiated against Malinga before the series commences.
While Malinga might have used the monkey reference just to highlight his frustration, an experienced cricketer such as him should have been more careful in the words he chose to express his feelings.
With his powers on the field on the decline and his past run-ins with the board, Malinga could find himself in a lot of trouble once the investigation into the remarks is completed.