Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Muralitharan prepares for final bow

One of the world's greatest and most controversial cricketers, Muttiah Muralitharan, is finally set to bring the curtain down on an illustrious Test career.

Why the greatest? Well the stats speak for themselves: A world record 792 test victims from 132 matches at an average of less than 23. He picked up a further 515 in the one day games with an average of just over 23 and he has even had time to squeeze in 13 wickets in 11 T20 matches at an average of less than 21.

Whatever the pitch, whatever the venue and whatever the game, Muralitharan has been the man every Sri Lanka captain has called on in a crisis - and he more often than not delivered. He certainly helped the side upset the Test cricket odds on a few occasions.

Why controversial? Because of the long standing debate about throwing was ripped open again each time a fussy umpire questioned his unusual action.

A deformed elbow was part of the reason but he also had exceptionally flexible wrists and a shoulder that rotated as rapidly as a fast bowler's at the time of delivery. This allowed him to achieve an exceptional level of spin. His killer delivery though was the doosra - the one that went the other way or held its line.

All of a sudden Murali could tee up his victims before bamboozling with a wicked delivery, putting him up there with the greats.

Umpires haven't been so kind to him though. Darrell Hair called him for throwing on the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne 1995 and the same happened in Brisbane and Adelaide. Another umpire Ross Emerson followed suit three years later. Even former Australian prime minister John Howard once labelled him a chucker - though he later apologised.

Murali even bowled on television in a special cast, going through his entire repertoire of deliveries to try and convince the critics.

He finally won the day and despite the controversy he has kept a dignified stance throughout. He is often accused of lacking that passion and fire in the belly that marks out the great players.

And although I agree that determination often put the elite players above the rest, Murali's unassuming nature betrays his devastating affect with the ball. He has no need to shout and bawl - his actions speak for themselves. Sri Lanka's cricket odds will no doubt take a hit after his departure.

He finally brings the curtain down on his Test career against India this week - I'm sure much to the authorities and opposition batsmen's relief.

1 comment:

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