Colombo: Two former Sri Lankan captains Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardena on Sunday backed fast bowler Lasith Malinga's decision to quit Tests because of a worsening knee condition.
Malinga announced his retirement last Friday, days after Sri Lanka Cricket questioned his participation in the lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL) after he withdrew from the upcoming England Tests citing issues with his fitness.
The paceman, who is in top form for the Mumbai Indians in the IPL, recently made himself unavailable for Sri Lanka's Test series in England, attracting criticism that he had chosen club over country.
Sangakkara said Malinga's decision was best for the team while Jayawardene said it was the right call from a personal point of view, according to the Cricinfo website.
"We were all well aware of the seriousness of his knee condition," Sangakkara said of the injury-prone bowler, who has pierced eyebrows, dyed blond locks and a distinctive slinging action.
"While I was captain we tried to manage him as carefully and sensitively as possible during the past couple of years," said Sangakkara, who quit as skipper this month following the team's defeat in the World Cup final to India.
"The truth is that Lasith is our best fast bowler in limited-overs cricket right now. If we forced him to play Tests we would be running the risk of losing him completely.
"That would be a tragedy for Sri Lanka, undermining both the ODI and T20 teams."
Sangakkara rubbished allegations that Malinga chose to quit Tests in order to extend his participation in the IPL.
"Had it not been for his knee problem he would definitely want to play Tests. I fully support his decision and hope that as a result of it we see him playing for a few more years."
Jayawardene said given Malinga's knee condition it was pointless to risk him for five-day Tests.
"If he breaks down then it will be bad for Sri Lanka. We want him playing for us as long as possible," said Jayawardene, who stepped down this month as vice-captain.
"Some people have criticised the decision, arguing that he is being selfish. This short-sighted argument is very unfair given that he clearly has a chronic knee problem.
"If his career is ended by injury, who is going to look after him and his family?"
There has been no comment from Sri Lanka Cricket on Malinga's Test retirement, with the board maintaining that they have yet to be officially informed.