Malinga scorches in T20 warm-up match

Tuesday, 4 December 2012 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

As a first-class regular until earlier this year, Wes Robinson was better placed than most Footscray Edgewater club-level batsmen in Melbourne to withstand the fearsome bowler they were confronted with on Sunday, Sri Lankan Lasith Malinga.

Nevertheless, Robinson was one of three victims to Malinga’s renowned yorkers as the 29-year-old gave a few hundred spectators at suburban Clayton a demonstration of what he is hoping to replicate on Friday night for the Melbourne Stars against Melbourne Renegades in the Big Bash League.

“In the first over, he swung them in and then in the second over he swung them away he was taking the piss a bit,” former West Australia opening batsman Robinson said of Malinga’s spell for Hawthorn-Monash University in the Premier Cricket Twenty20 match. “It was almost like ‘reversing’ (reverse swing). I don’t know whether he’s meaning to do it you’d suggest by his record he probably knows what he’s doing.”

Many Stars and Renegades players turned out for their home or adopted club sides at the weekend to prepare for the looming clash but Malinga, who only arrived from Sri Lanka on Friday, was easily the biggest drawcard.

The softly spoken Malinga was largely coy when speaking publicly before the match but did say his body was feeling good and that he also periodically played club cricket in Sri Lanka to prepare for international or domestic T20 matches.

Given the new ball, Malinga conceded two boundaries in his first four deliveries one an inside-edge past the wicketkeeper, another a cover drive from a slower ball to Footscray captain Dean Russ before he fired a yorker through Russ’s defences with his fifth.

For Robinson, a resolute 31-year-old who surprisingly lost his state contract with WA during the winter, the match was another chance to face Malinga, as a Prime Minister’s XI match he was selected for in February against Sri Lanka was rained out. Left-handed Robinson watched that first over from Malinga from the non-striker’s end. Based on that experience, he expected the ball to curve into him. Having played inside Malinga’s first delivery Robinson anticipated movement into him with the second but was trumped as it “Started on leg then clipped off.” While Robinson was not able to give a clear estimate of what pace Malinga was bowling at “I only faced two balls and I didn’t really pick them up too well” he said the bigger difficulty in countering the Sri Lanka was keeping focus on his slinging-type bowling action.

“The hardest thing you find facing him first up is actually trying to pick up where the ball is coming from,” he said. “He’s almost bowling from left-arm over [the wicket] from a right-armer, so he’s almost coming from the other side of the umpire.”

Malinga’s new-ball spell lasted only two overs. When recalled in the 13th over Footscray youngsters Tallan Wright and Guy Walker, each claimed two singles off him.

Malinga was switched into the wind for his final over, the 18th. His first two deliveries were speared down leg side one was superbly claimed by diving wicketkeeper David Alleyne but the third was another on-target yorker. Tailender Hamish Winter-Irving successfully got his body between the ball and the stumps but was given out leg-before.

It ended his team’s innings score on 105 and gave Malinga 3-15 from 3.3 overs.

Malinga’s temporary team, Hawthorn, comfortably won the match. Robinson was not star-struck he made a half-century in each innings in a tour match against England on the eve of the 2010-11 Ashes - but nevertheless lauded the participation of the Sri Lankan, one of the most highly regarded fast-bowlers in limited-overs cricket.

“It’s not every day that clubs can say they’ve got a guy like Malinga playing for them in a T20 match,” Robinson said. “I think it’s awesome work from Hawthorn-Monash Uni and whoever from the Stars organised it to get him to play.”

The Stars’ will hold practice matches on Monday and Tuesday, respectively at Casey Fields in Cranbourne and at the MCG, to prepare for the Big Bash League season-opener away to the Renegades on Friday.

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