Lasith Malinga has suffered injuries and not been fully effective with the ball since his comeback. However, he still aims to play for Sri Lanka until 2019 Cricket World Cup.
Sri Lanka has found a similar bowler in Nuwan Thushara. The 23-year-old pacer is called as Malinga Jr.
Thushara says he never ever tried to copy Malinga; the action came naturally to him. “I used to bowl with a soft ball when a friend, who used to play competitive cricket took me to Colombo. There, I first played for Sinhalese Sports Club before moving on to Colombo Cricket Club. People say I must have copied Malinga but this action was how it has been since the start, as a boy,” Thushara says.
His father was a helper at construction sites, and Thushara didn’t know how to play cricket with a leather ball. Thushara never played hard-ball cricket in his hometown Ambalangoda but was known as the Malinga of softball cricket.
“People always said I should try to play leather-ball cricket but somehow I didn’t know how to go about it. Back at home, things aren’t that good as my father works as a helper in building houses,” he says.
The young pacer has played under-23 cricket. But Colombo Cricket Club (CCC) wanted him to play more in the limited-overs formats.
He even met the real Malinga, and the master taught him how to bowl slower deliveries. “I have been watching him for quite sometime now. I’m teaching him now. He has a long way to go,” Lasith Malinga told The Indian Express.
CCC captain Ashan Priyanjan, who has played 23 ODI’s for Sri Lanka, says Thushara still has time to be ready for higher-level cricket. “He has to learn how to bowl with a red ball. He will learn probably in next couple of seasons. We don’t want to expose him to a red ball at the moment. It’s natural that once you have action like Malinga, you will attract people. But he has time. He needs to increase his pace as well. At the moment, he can touch around the 135 kmph mark, but if you want to play higher cricket he needs to get more,” he says.
On Wednesday, at the P Sara Oval, Malinga had come to play his semi-final game for Nondescripts Cricket Club against the Sri Lanka army team.
As soon as he came out to bowl, the television crew couldn’t resist interviewing Thushara just beyond the boundary rope. “I have enjoyed this small fame but to be like Malinga, it will take lots and lots of hard work. The road ahead will not be easy. I can only say I will try to be my own man,” Thushara says.