Sri Lanka's Lasith Malinga retires from Test cricket

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Malinga hat-trick skittles Kenya

Sri Lanka fast bowler Lasith Malinga, 27, is retiring from Tests in a bid to prolong his one-day international career through to the 2015 World Cup.

Malinga angered Cricket Sri Lanka by ruling himself out of the England tour with a knee injury, while continuing to play in the Indian Premier League.

But he insists that while his knee can stand up to one-day and 20-over games, it cannot cope with five-day Tests.

"The heavy workload of Tests could lead to permanent injury," he said.

Malinga, known as "The Slinger" for his low-armed delivery, is one of world cricket's most recognisable players with his bleached curls.

The right-armer has played only two Tests since England's tour of Sri Lanka in December 2007, both against India last year, but has fashioned himself as a one-day and Twenty20 specialist, taking 13 wickets as Sri Lanka reached the final of the 2011 World Cup.

After the tournament, he told Sri Lankan state television that he had played his last World Cup match.

But in a statement on Friday, he said: "Although I am sufficiently fit to play both ODI and T20 cricket, I have a long-standing degenerative condition in my right knee that needs to be carefully managed.

"The condition relates directly to the chronic knee injury I sustained playing for Sri Lanka in Australia back in February 2008, an injury that prevented me from playing ODI cricket for 16 months.

"I have realised that the heavy workload of Test cricket, which requires a fast bowler to be able to bowl more than 15 overs, sometimes on consecutive days, could lead to permanent injury.

"I did try to return to Test cricket after a three-year absence last year following requests from the team management and the selectors, but it left me nursing severe knee pain for two months.

"I have carefully considered my options and have decided that not playing Test cricket will help me achieve my goal of representing Sri Lanka in the 2012 World Twenty20 and the 2015 World Cup."

Malinga's statement came after Sri Lanka Cricket chairman of selectors Duleep Mendis, a former national captain, said the new committee had written a letter to Malinga asking him to begin a new rehabilitation plan in Colombo.

"It looks a bit awkward when [he] says he's injured and still plays," Mendis said.

Lasith Malinga bowling in his last Test match in August 2010
Malinga's slingy action has been an increasingly rare sight in Test cricket

"That is the reason why we have decided to write to Malinga and ask him to return home and undergo a rehabilitation programme.

"Malinga has specifically mentioned in a letter that he is not available for Test matches right now because he has a nagging knee problem.

"When the player says that he is injured and he has to undergo a rehab programme what we can do is to tell him to undergo it immediately, without continuing to play cricket in the IPL, and then get ready for cricket in Sri Lanka if he is interested in playing for his country."

Malinga made his international debut in 2004, and took four wickets in four balls against South Africa at the 2007 World Cup, the first time it had been done in international cricket history.

He became the first man to take two World Cup hat-tricks when he took 6-38 to skittle Kenya at this year's tournament, and his Test career ends with 101 wickets from 30 Tests at an average of 33.15.

Sri Lanka - who will be captained by Tillakaratne Dilshan for the first time in Test cricket - are short on seam options for the upcoming England tour after all-rounder Angelo Mathews was ruled out with a thigh muscle injury suffered during the 2011 World Cup.

The 16-man squad contains four fast bowlers in Dilhara Fernando, Chanaka Welegedara, Suranga Lakmal and Nuwan Pradeep.

Nuwan Kulasekara - the fast bowler who played in Sri Lanka's previous Test series, against West Indies, and featured on the 2006 tour of England - has been dropped.

Lahiru Thirimanne and Dinesh Chandimal have also received call-ups. Both are considered to be among the most promising young Sri Lankan batsmen, and have already played ODIs.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka Cricket has backtracked on its demand for players to return home early from the IPL to prepare for the tour.

The board has decided that if players make themselves available for the second warm-up match - against England Lions in Derby on 19 May - it will be sufficient preparation for the Test series.

Dilshan's squad play Tests at Cardiff (from 26 May) and Lord's (3 June) before featuring in the inaugural Test at the Rose Bowl (16 June).

Sri Lanka Test squad to face England: Tillakaratne Dilshan (capt), Tharanga Paranavithana, Lahiru Thirimanne, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Thilan Samaraweera, Dinesh Chandimal, Prasanna Jayawardene (wicketkeeper), Thissara Perera, Suraj Randiv, Ajantha Mendis, Rangana Herath, Dilhara Fernando, Chanaka Welegedara, Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep.