Sri Lanka 521-5 dec & 5-1 Sussex 262: 'Slinger' Malinga put on Sri Lanka stand-by

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The Sri Lankans headed for Edgbaston yesterday reasonably happy with preparations for the second Test against England which starts on Thursday.

Despite disappointment at the inexperience of the opposition - Sussex were without eight first-team regulars - and the weather, which wiped out all play on the final day of a match that was meandering nowhere, Sri Lanka have a far better idea of the make-up of the team they want to field.

Tom Moody, their coach, had felt changes needed to be made to offer something different in attack and there was enough time in this game for the fast bowler Lasith Malinga to stake a claim. The slingy action of this right-arm bowler earned him five wickets in the Sussex first innings as the county side finished 259 runs adrift of the tourists' mammoth total. And that might be enough to earn him his 16th Test appearance for Sri Lanka.

Moody, who clearly rates Malinga, said: "He's unique, the closest one to him in world cricket is Fidel Edwards. He has the ability to swing the new ball and can also reverse swing it." And the coach is taking no credit for Malinga's ability.

Admitting that the 22-year-old's talents have developed naturally, Moody said: "He's been brought up playing tennis ball cricket on the beach. You cannot make massive adjustments to him. It's no use trying to turn him into a classical seam bowler, because he will never be that. He will always be an express slinger. He is very different and that is why, very early in his career, he has quite a good strike rate."

But Moody would not be drawn into saying whether Malinga would start the Test. "Until we look at the wicket I wouldn't want to say, but he is very much in consideration and so is Nuwan Zoysa. It will be a difficult decision whether we keep seven batsmen, change one of the quicks over, or play another quick bowler or another spinner."

Malinga, whose fastest recorded delivery is 91.9mph, said: "I don't think batsmen pick my action very easily. It is slingy. I try to unsettle new batsmen to take my wickets, with a mix of yorkers and bouncers in the first overs."

He did not manage to rattle the Sussex debutant Oliver Rayner, though. The 20-year-old, who was born in Germany, scored his maiden first-class hundred to provide some resistance to the tourists, who then eschewed the follow-on, clearly realising that the weather was going to have the last word.