Former Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara on Saturday rubbished talks that mercurial speedster Lasith Malinga chose IPL over national duties while announcing his retirement from Test cricket and said critics should not question his professional commitment.
"It gets confusing when people try and take sides. It can happen when some people criticise Malinga for picking IPL over country. That is of all nonsense to me. There is never a stage where Lasith can ever pick IPL over country. Malinga is a dedicated no-nonsense cricketer. He is the toughest no-nense cricketer I have ever met," Sangakkara told NDTV.
"I don't think there was ever a question Lasith did not want to play Test cricket. He wanted to play in all three formats of the game. Unfortunately for him, his body was not able to stand the rigours of Test cricket. He is a guy who gives everything when on the field. So you can't question his commitments. He does not think about the next match or the next series. He only thinks about doing well in that particular match," he added.
Malinga, whose sling-arm bowling action and devastating yorkers proved to be a nightmare for batsmen the world over, on Friday announced his retirement from Test cricket because of a "long-standing degenerative" knee injury.
The surprise announcement from Malinga, regarded as the fastest bowler produced by Sri Lanka till date, was being interpreted as a move to put an end to the selection dispute with his cricket establishment which wanted him to return from the IPL for a rehabilitation programme.
Malinga, who had pulled out of Sri Lanka's upcoming Test tour of England citing fitness woes and is leading the wicket tally for Mumbai Indians in the ongoing IPL, clarified that the condition stops him from playing in the Test format only.
"The injury was a career-threatening injury and my orthopaedic surgeon was of the opinion that given his experience with other professional athletes in Australia I was very fortunate to play again.
"I have since been advised by the national team physiotherapist and my orthopaedic consultant that my condition will deteriorate when fielding or bowling for prolonged periods," the fast bowler had said in a statement.
Sangakkara, skipper of the Deccan Chargers, said the pacer had been suffering from this injury for quite some time and quitting Test cricket would help him concentrate in other two formats of the game.
"His decision was not a surprise to me. He had spoken about it in January this year and looking at his long-term future for Sri Lanka, I think it's the right decision for him taken at the right time. I think this is the most sensible decision he can take at this time.
"We would love to have him playing Test cricket but he has got a condition that he is not going to get better. More Test matches for him might actually mean end of his career. It's a huge decision that he has taken and a very tough one. It's the right decision for him and for the Sri Lankan cricket because this way we can have him for a long cause playing in ODIs and T20s," the former captain added.
Sangakkara said had the Sri Lankan cricket Board (SLC) forced him to play Test cricket, the country would have lost him as a fast bowler many years back.
"We did want him to play against India. He was not 100 per cent sure but he came and played and did wonderfully well for us. But it really took a lot out of him. He played the third Test but was left with terrible knee pain and other problems for two months. If we had kept asking him to play, we would have lost him as a fast bowler very quickly. It would be a shame not for just the Sri Lankan cricket but for the world cricket and Lasith's bright future.
"His playing the IPL nowhere jeopardise his chances or commitment for playing for the country. Lasith will go back after the IPL and selectors will speak to him," he added.