2019 Cricket World Cup, Game 27, England v Sri Lanka
The moral of the story is this: if you’re going to bowl at 77mph, do it really weirdly.
Lasith Malinga used to bowl at that particular speed where you’d sometimes call him a fast bowler and sometimes wouldn’t. He was 87-88mph mostly, but he could definitely get over 90mph and 90mph’s the ‘fast’ threshold, isn’t it? Everyone knows that.
That 144.84km/h mark was less meaningful for Malinga though simply because of his bowling action. In the early days it was all anyone could talk about. Cricket fans (Australian, mostly) got really angry about it, while young writers unexpectedly drew thousands of readers writing piss-poor blog posts defending it.
And do you know what? We’re still talking about it now, aren’t we? Do you know why we’re still talking about it? Because it’s mental.
That Lasith Malinga gets his length right is to be expected given how he delivers the ball. The fact that he so often gets his line right is one of the great recurring miracles of cricket.
It is, on the face of it, a side-net-billowing, square-leg-umpire-endangering way to go about things, but it worked in 2004 at 90mph and it works in 2019 at 80mph.
It’ll probably work in 2034 at 60mph.