A man of few words, in English at least, Lasith Malinga, perhaps epitomizes the quiet achiever.
With no frills, he goes about his business on the field; his golden streaks perhaps the only indication of the electricity he is able to generate through his freakishly accurate bowling.
The Sri Lankan import was signed the Melbourne Stars for BBL|02 in August 2012. At the time, he boasted a near-cult following amongst the Sri Lankan community, and a popular reception amongst Victorian crowds.
Chairman of Selectors, Ian Chappell saw the 29 year-old’s value to the Stars from the beginning.
"For quite a few years now Lasith Malinga has been one of the premier short-form bowlers," Chappell said. "He fulfills two important roles - he takes wickets and there's no better finishing bowler in the game,” Chappell said.
“His presence is sure to add to the atmosphere wherever he plays.”
That, it certainly has. “Slinga Malinga,” as he has become more affectionately known, wowed and entertained BBL|02 crowds with his amazing ability with the ball.
Finishing the season as the equal leading wicket-taker (13) with Ben Laughlin, Malinga now also sits as the third-highest T20 wicket-taker of all time, with 191 scalps.
Perhaps the defining moment for Malinga was his spectacular 6/7 against the Perth Scorchers – the best figures for a domestic T20 to date. His man-of-the-match winning performance demanded respect and admiration from teammates, supporters and general cricket lovers alike.
From there, “Slinga” was on a roll. Just a few weeks later, he took a commanding 3/26 against the Brisbane Heat (it was 3/0 at one stage), leading teammate David Hussey to suggest Malinga was “in the form of his life.”
The key to his success is his efficiency in using three variations, notably catching the batsmen unawares with his toe-crunching Yorker or a cleverly disguised slower-ball.
Much to the disappointment of his converted allegiance of fans, Malinga missed the Stars’ match against the Sydney Thunder and semi-final against the Scorchers due to commitments in the Sri Lankan ODI and T20 side.
Yet, Stars fans fear not. While they may have witnessed a slight jumping of ship, Malinga will line up in the green again for the Stars in BBL|03 – having signed a multi-year contract with the club.
The countdown is on, until the magic is back.