Salman Butt (left) and Lasith Malinga. Pics: Getty Images
Malinga (38) announced his retirement from international cricket on Tuesday, bringing an end to a glorious international career. The Sri Lankan great has 546 international scalps to his name, and is also the leading IPL wicket-taker with 170 wickets.
Speaking on his YouTube channel, Butt remembered a funny incident when Malinga embarrassed him with a well-disguised slower bouncer, saying:
“I remember once when he was relatively new, Sri Lanka and Pakistan had played a few unofficial one-dayers in Abu Dhabi. He was really quick, but he ran in hard and bowled a slow bouncer to me. I was playing him for the first time, and completely misread the ball. I just ducked as I would to a normal bouncer. When I was sitting down, the ball was still coming, and I ended up defending the ball while ducking.”
Butt ahead that both bowler and batsman shared a hearty laugh in the aftermath of that incident, recalling:
“I couldn’t control my laughter, neither could Malinga.”
The former Pakistan cricketer described Malinga as someone who did not have the aggression of a fast bowler, and was happy to bowl with a smile.
“I had lot of fun playing against him. Malinga was very competitive, and dismissed me a few times in international cricket. We did win some matches against Sri Lanka with him in the team as well. Our strategy was to play him out, as he was Sri Lanka’s main bowler,” Butt said.
Malinga had already announced his retirement from Test cricket back in 2011 while he quit ODIs in 2019. His last T20 for Sri Lanka was against West Indies in March 2020.
“The amount of control Malinga had was amazing” – Salman Butt
Describing Malinga as a legend, Butt hailed the Sri Lankan for the kind of control he had over his bowling despite possessing numerous variations in his arsenal. Butt said:
“Lasith Malinga has been among the top bowlers with the new ball and at the death as well. The amount of control he had on his yorkers and his reverse-swinging deliveries was amazing. He was also outstanding in the manner he disguised his slower ones.” “Malinga won numerous matches for Sri Lanka with the ball. He has claimed four wickets in four balls, and was outstanding for Mumbai Indians for a number of years. Malinga will be known as one of the class bowlers in the history of the game,” Butt concluded.
Malinga, who made his international debut back in 2004, was the captain of the Sri Lankan team that lifted the 2014 T20 World Cup. He was also part of the team that reached the 2011 50-over World Cup final.