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Murali must never be abused

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Ben Dirs | 18:16 UK time, Thursday, 31 March 2011

On being told I had been tasked with writing a blog about Muttiah Muralitharan ahead of Saturday's World Cup final between India and Sri Lanka, the first thing I did was to pose a question on Twitter: "Thoughts on the man and his career, if you please..."

The ellipses were deliberate, the pessimist in me believing my trailing off into silence would soon be punctuated by a cacophony of insults. And sure enough, there came the inevitable cries of "chucker!" from approximately a quarter of the respondents, in reference to Murali's unorthodox bowling action.

But it was a message from a certain Darren Jalland that caught my eye, quoting as he did 'big in the 90s' experimental electronic group The Shamen: "For much of his career, Murali has been like Ebeneezer Goode - 'very much maligned and misunderstood'."

A quick perusal of the full lyrics of number one smash Ebeneezer Goode reveal it could have been penned for the little genius from Kandy himself: "You can see that he's mischievious, mysterious and devious" and "he gives a grin that goes around from face to face to face" seem particularly apt.

But it was the "maligned and misunderstood" line that seemed most pertinent: never in sport has a man been the subject of such wonder and ridicule in equal measure. Yet here is a man who was lucky to have played cricket at all, born as he was with a defective arm into a community with little or no connection with the sport.

Muttiah Muralitharan

Muralitharan is held aloft following Sri Lanka's semi-final win against New Zealand. Photo: Reuters

From such barren soil, Murali blossomed into the highest wicket-taker in both Tests and one-day internationals, amassing a mind-boggling 800 in the former, 534 and counting in the latter. In 133 Tests, he took 22 10-wicket hauls, and in 349 ODIs he snaffled five wickets on 10 occasions. Oh, and let's not forget that historic World Cup win in 1996.

Yet, on the verge of his final appearance for his country, all some people can talk about is that unorthodox bowling action.

"He's one of the toughest characters you'll ever come across, he never gave up or let the criticism get him down or worry him. And he gave himself up for scrutiny, he never shied away from it," says Sri Lankan cricket commentator Roshan Abeysinghe, referring to the extensive investigations and biomechanical testing which led the International Cricket Council to finally clear Murali of any wrong-doing.

"He's absolutely been cleared from a scientific point of view, but whether we've been able to convince the general public and selected aspects of the media, that's still a question that someone else should answer," commented Bruce Elliott, who oversaw four rounds of tests on Murali between 1996 and 2004. Judging by the response to my recent tweet, apparently not.

But it is telling that few of his opponents, some of whom you would expect to have big axes to grind, have come out to condemn him. Shane Warne, who vied with Murali for most of their careers for the crown of cricket's greatest ever spinner, said on his rival's retirement from Tests in 2010: "He'll be missed, Murali has been wonderful for the game."

Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan

Warne and Muralitharan vied for the crown of the greatest ever spinner. Photo: Getty

And not just for his mountain of wickets. "He's a bit of a free spirit," Andrew Flintoff, a team-mate of Murali at Lancashire, told BBC Sport. "He just lets himself go, he enjoys the moment."

And why not? What he has done for Sri Lankan cricket is an undeniably joyous achievement. "Sri Lankan cricket wouldn't be where it is today without him," says Abeysinghe. "Not just because of the number of wickets he took but because of how he conducted himself as a cricketer. It is difficult to imagine Sri Lankan cricket without him."

Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara adds: "What he means to us is hard to explain. Murali is an icon of Sri Lanka, a champion on and off the field. Every time he's played he's done wonders for us. And as a human being, no-one matches him."

This is a sentiment the people of Seenigama, in southern Sri Lanka, would wholeheartedly agree with. Through his Foundation of Goodness, established in the early 2000s, Murali has provided education, training, healthcare and housing, as well as raising more than $4m to rehabilitate the area following the 2004 tsunami. "He's a nice guy," says Sangakkara, "that's why nice things happen to him."

Adds Abeysinghe: "He was a great unifying force during a time of civil war in Sri Lanka [which came to an end in 2009], coming as he does from part of the Tamil minority community. He was one of the few Tamils who played for the Sri Lankan side and was a bridge between the two sides.

"To do what he has done is a remarkable achievement for someone of his background. His rise has shown there are opportunities for everyone in Sri Lanka, whatever background you are from. For that reason, he means a huge amount to the entire nation of Sri Lanka."

For those of us non-Sri Lankans, it is all about the rubber wrists, the goggle eyes, that grin that goes around from face to face to face. If you will allow me another Shamenism to finish: Murali's refined, he's sublime, he makes you feel fine, and he's the kind of geezer who must never be abused.

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  • Comment number 1.

    Cue all the insults from the all knowing general public. The fact of the matter is that he's been cleared time and time again and his permanantly bent arm and extraordinary hyper extension of his wrists and shoulders mean it creates an illusion of chucking.
    If all these individuals took the time to analyse the proof readily available on the internet and accept him for who he is, this wouldn't be an issue. But alas, for the non scientific mind, its all too complicated to comprehend.

  • Comment number 2., Sri, World Sporting LEGEND.

    Stats to make you fall off your seat. Attitude to make you wish he was your mate. Cricket may never see another like him, but you sincerely hope it does.

  • Comment number 3.

    Sure there's bound to be a mountain of idiots criticising his action, but in 10 years, that will be forgotten and all that will be remembered was has his smile and his ability. I remember watching England lose to Sri Lanka at Lords a few years back, and even though England had a gettable total on the final day, there wasn't a chance they would get near, as soon as Murali got the ball in his hand. Batsmen were often out before he'd even bowled, such was his dominance. It's often said that Warne was the better thinker and strategist, and that may be true, but Murali was / is the better bowler. Don't forget, Murali carried an entire attack, whilst Warne had a great attack behind him. That in itself is a mark of true greatness. My only regret is we won't see him twirling away at Lords again this summer, though I'm sure Strauss et al, won't be too upset!

    Cricket will be a poorer game without him!

  • Comment number 4.

    has anybody got any veras?


  • Comment number 5.

    you do realise that ebeneezer goode is about ecstacy right?

  • Comment number 6.

    Nobody can deny that the stats speak for themselves, the like of which will probably never be seen again. Speaking as a WI fan, I always knew that Warne would knock the GREAT Courtney Walsh off the top when the time came, but Murali's numbers make both these achievements look a bit...well...ordinary!?
    It's a sad fact of life that even if a fast bowler is extraordinary, and there's been several, that for a variety of reasons, a top-draw spinner is always going to look better on paper.

  • Comment number 7.

    On the face of it, he may have had a slightly suspect movement, but in reality, its legal and always has been.

    Even if it was just a tad below the regulations, so what, he has never cheated, just played the game for what its worth and provided us with some immense and pleasurable moments. I will miss him for his talent and skills, as will we all, but much more for his attitude and perseverance both on and off the field that has endeared him to millions.

    Sounds like an obituary and he's not even dead yet. That says much of the man.

  • Comment number 8.

    ollie - Is it? I thought it was about knees.

  • Comment number 9.

    I once met Murali - at Stretford Arndale, Manchester - he was buying s mop and other cleaning utensils (not kidding)

    He is probably the nicest sporsman I have met - he chatted to my young son for about 5 minutes.

    He will be missed from international cricket - due to being the enigma that he is

  • Comment number 10.

    His bowling action isnt misunderstood. Its perfectly understood by anyone who actually uses their eyes and has been proved again and again that his bowling action doesnt meet the laws of the game. It's what goes into producing that action that mitigates it.

    Those mitigating circumstances did not exist for any bowler before him, do not exist for any other bowler now and will not exist again for anyone who comes after him.

    I wasn't one of the "idiots" who barracked him at matches, but I don't think his particular kind of "unorthodox" action deserves celebration either. Celebrate the wickets and the records by all means, but let's keep it at that shall we?

  • Comment number 11.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 12.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 13.

    Aussie ;) ^^

  • Comment number 14.

    His action isn't even unorthodox, he's simply built differently from 99.99% of other people, without wishing to sound rude or be classed as abusive, he's a freak due to his deformity, but so is Shoaib Akhtar, with the only real difference between them being, one was a very good bowler with a 'suspect' private life, the other a legendary bowler who's a genuinely nice bloke.

    In around 30 years watching cricket only Warne has come close to being as talented a bowler, although it's difficult to compare the 'quicks' with spinners, I can't think of a single one who's engendered such fear in their opponents, or for that matter one who even on a bad day could terrorise any batsman and that includes Walsh, Donald and McGrath.

    I for one will be sad to see him retire, just as I was when Warnie did, but as an England fan it gives us about another 20% chance of winning any game against SL, just as we have against the Aussies since Shanes retirement.

  • Comment number 15.

    Now got good old 'Eezer Goode stuck in my head. Thanks Mr Dirs.

  • Comment number 16.

    I think Murali sums up Sri Lankan cricket: just do what comes naturally and play cricket for the fun of it with a smile on your face. He's unconventional along with Mendhis and Malinga and of course Dilshan with his scoop but it's that freedom to play the game naturally that makes them such a fantastic team to watch.

    As for Murali's action the investigations actually proved that the vast majority of bowlers "chuck" according to the classic interpretation of the rules so anybody accusing Mularidaran of bowling heresy would do well to remember that. He is also a true gentleman off the field as well.

  • Comment number 17.

    @10 That sort of comment doesn't help and needs proof. Show us where it was "proved again and again that his bowling action doesn't meet the laws of the game", apart from in the mind of a somewhat biased Australian umpire.

  • Comment number 18.

    Thanks for the name check, Ben. Great article about a great bowler, whose action has been proved time and time again to be legal, despite what a couple of commenters have already said.

  • Comment number 19.

    Scientists have proven the world to be round, that we have a force called gravity and that if you split the nucleus of an atom you get a rather big 'bang'.. The general public can accept all of this but some refuse to acknowledge the 4 rounds of scientific tests that have proved Murali doesn't chuck the ball... Jealousy? Refusal to see past an optical illusion? Either way, the more informed followers of cricket will always see and remember him for who he is, an absolute legend on the pitch and a dignified gentleman off it. Thank you Murali for all the great memories, lets hope you can give us one more tomorrow!

  • Comment number 20.

    To fuel the debate, Reallyreal says Warne was close, well interestingly Warne played only three tests against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, the two weakest sides ever, he took 17 wickets, which when deducted from his career total leaves 691, Murali opted to play these tests giants 25 times and took 176 wickets, take these away from his career total and you have 624.
    Sorry Mr Reallyreal, even without his batting if I had to put my money on one of these, it would be Warnie. ( and I really dislike Warnie whereas Murali is a gent)

  • Comment number 21.

    Maligned and misunderstood by a desperate Australia trying to hold onto their fading glory by banning Murali from the tour a few years back.

  • Comment number 22.

    Im sorry poster #10 the laws of cricket applies to all players, i have not seen an ammendment to them that states 'the degree of elbow extension' is different for any 1 particular bowler. If you can prove otherwise i'll stand outside the BBC centre house, naked with a 'i was wrong' sign around my neck.

  • Comment number 23.

    All I can say is there is no way could spin the ball anywhere near that much with an illegal action and his has been proven legal over and over again, pure genius. It takes someone truely special to keep spectators of any team mesmerised by what they do and he was one of those along with Warne and others to mention of course.

    To go forward there needs to be inovation and evolution and he has brought both in huge measure to the game of cricket as a whole and especially the world of spin bowling.

    He is a legend and I believe a one off and no one should ever deny him anything he has acheived as a cricketer and a human being.

  • Comment number 24.

    I see your logic Smudgersmith, but I always jugde things as a whole, not merely as stats and IMO (and it's only an opinion afterall) Murali is marginally better than Warne, but both are lightyears ahead of the next best, but I'll not go apoplectic if others think otherwise, unlike the way too many react if anyone questions Sachins godlike status ;)

  • Comment number 25.

    "has been proved again and again that his bowling action doesnt meet the laws of the game."

    Just plain wrong. The controversy about Murali's action led to extensive examination of his and other bowlers' actions. This showed that 99% of test bowlers did not bowl with a straight arm, and therefore the laws of cricket were changed to put a limit on the acceptable limits of deviation from a straight arm. Murali's action falls well within those limits, his action is legal and is within the laws of the game.

    Much more to the point is that he so obviously plays cricket with joy and passion, and is so much playing within the spirit of the game that I find it hard to understand why people are so harsh about him. We should be celebrating him because cricketers of his class (in all senses of the word) are few and far between. It was a privelege to have seen him play.

  • Comment number 26.

    @ Smudgersmith1000: True but a test wicket is a test wicket regardless.. If you want to get into the finer points it could be argued that Murali has taken a higher percentage of top/middle order batsmen compared to Warne therefore he has got a higher class of batsmen out, more often than Warne did.. Again it could be argued that Aus had great quick bowlers so he didn't get much of a crack at the top order or many teams..
    Depending on what colour shades you look through, either bowler has a valid claim to be the best spinner ever.. Im happy to just say they are both the greatest spin bowlers cricket has ever seen. A fence is there for a reason, to sit on ;)

  • Comment number 27.

    Murli is and will always be remembered as a great spin bowler. Unfortunately the guys who dont quite like him, seem to bring his action into question. Hes been cleared time and time again. Best spinner ever.....yes, better than Warne, who is a great too. Stats say it all.....highest wicket take Tests and One Dayers....No of games v wickets, average etc.....simply the best.

  • Comment number 28.

    the simple but straightforward view is that chucking is really only an issue with fast bowlers. Murali is simply a legend - his reputation and legacy will outlast the nonsense and knockers by decades or centuries

  • Comment number 29.

    5. Ollie - . I think Ben probably knew that and the ecstasy metaphore is appropriate, little fella, makes you laugh (in a good way) and feel good for days after, Had be ebaneezer goode because nobody had a hit song about Ronny Corbett...

  • Comment number 30.

    Most peoples opinions seem to be completely unaffected by facts, how irritatingly predictable. So much talk about tests on his action, but clearly nobody supporting his action can remember the test results.
    His action and his personality are not connected, he is as deluded as his supporters about his action. He is obviously a very nice man, with a mostly legal bowling action, but like many a lot of his deliveries were no balls.
    But facts have little to do with it, as usual, it's just a case of do you like him or not.

  • Comment number 31.

    Usually like your posts Ben, but not this time. Been following and playing cricket for 50 years now and all I can say is if it walks like a duck etc. Let's hope we see no more Chuckalitharans, but I'm afraid the damage is done. Sorry all you Murali lovers but that's how I see it.

  • Comment number 32.

    Murali is fine, although I still have some doubts about the 'doosra' delivery...

    Malinga on the other hand now THERES a chucker!

    Murali wonderful person to chat to and he let me see how his wrist works at a Derbs match once - incredible!

  • Comment number 33.

    As a Sri Lankan I appreciate most of u guys who try to analyse Murali as a cricketer & a human being. & for rightfully defending his bowling action. & Mr. Ben Dir's for leaving the best sentence of all the articles I read about Murali till last "Murali's refined, he's sublime, he makes you feel fine, and he's the kind of geezer who must never be abused." Thanks guys. Don't think I have to say anything about how great a bowler Murali is, u guys said it all...!

  • Comment number 34.

    Most cricket people that I know are of the opinion that Murali throws the ball, but the overwhelming majority of them believe a) that he is straightening his arm as much as his condition allows and b) that he would never cheat deliberately.
    What actually happened during the throwing saga is that the ICC modified the no-ball law to state exactly what were the permissible limits of elbow bend, and they chose these limits to allow Murali to continue as a player. I happen to think that the chosen limits allow players to bowl with an action that would be no-balled instantly by any village umpire, but I think that the game is and has been far far better off for having Murali in it. Very few men have brought such skill and endeavour to the cricket field, and Murali is up there with Colin Cowdrey as one of the true gentlemen of the game.
    I have met the man twice and on both occasions he was generous with his time when he didn't have to be, dignified, courteous and friendly. Of all the players my cricket-mad sons have 'tagged' for autographs, they rate Murali top for the way he treated them - for what it's worth, Mr Warne is nearer the other end of their list.

  • Comment number 35.

    Murali is a great bowler. He's no cheat, and he wouldn't have been a cheat even if the powers that be had said that his action was technically illegal, which ultimately they didn't. His record is second to none and will likely never be beaten.

    Through gritted teeth I will express my view that Warne was the better bowler, but Murali has played far longer, and carried on his shoulders the entire attack of his nation for years. He's a phenomenon.

  • Comment number 36.

    When Murali. has an appeal for LBW referred to Hawkeye and they check for a front foot no-ball from square leg, look at the freeze frame picture of his arm rather than his foot. At this stage of any bowler's action the arm is well above the horizontal and nearly all world cup bowlers' arms are ram-rod straight. Slow bowlers have a special dispensation of 15 degrees in ICC regulations NOT the laws of Cricket. Fast bowlers are allowed less. No umpire can expect to be able to distinguish a few degrees one way or an another and the few that have tried have been vilified, called biassed and even racist. What happens in a laboratory is one thing, no bowler is going to blatantly throw when the cameras are on him but, tomorrow is a World Cup Final and I invite you to draw your own conclusions when an LBW appeal is referred. Don't take my word for it look for yourself.

  • Comment number 37.

    The reason why Murali has been cleared is because the biomechanics labs have repeatedly been asked to verify the wrong thing. The primary gain from a bent arm is NOT straightening (unless you're playing darts or putting the shot) but is derived from internal humerus rotation:

    I'm a little weary of folks claiming that naysayers don't understand the science. Also (contrary to comment 28) increased wrist speed is most definitely a benefit to an off-spinner, as it gives them more scope to impart spin on the ball without reducing speed of delivery.

  • Comment number 38.

    All the talk here starting from Ben is all about the controversy on his action, but where is the talk about his legacy and his place among bowling greats. In my book, he is one of the 3 greatest bowlers of all-time along with Marshall and Warne..

  • Comment number 39.

    he's a chucker..........legacy created by chucking the ball, sored for a while then back to chucking post referral fading

  • Comment number 40.

    As a Sri Lankan (and Sinhalese), I don't think there is anyone else who I can say I am more proud of than Murali and what he has done.

    He has persevered through all the unjust criticism, and played cricket with a smile on his face. The word legend is brandied about a lot and a lot are simply hype, there are a few who it aptly describes and he is well and truly one of those human beings.

    There is a lot other sportsmen and women can learn from him and his conduct both on and off the field. The great sadness I have is that my son will never see him play live...

  • Comment number 41.

    For all those haters; So what buddies...! Murali will have the last laugh...! :)

  • Comment number 42.

    In bowling terms I would always put Shane Warne ahead of Murali - controversy or no controversy, Warne is the better bowler in my opinion. However Murali's impact and legacy on world cricket has been far reaching and he has been a fine servant to the game.

    I kind of met him once at a game between Gloucs and Lancs at Bristol with my Uni cricket team. Despite being a megastar of international cricket he happily posed with some slightly drunk students for a photo. I like to think that is the sort of guy he is.

    I hope Sachin gets a ton and Murali 5 wickets tomorrow!

  • Comment number 43.

    When we analyse the greatest ever bowler, some are better than the others in various aspects. A player like Ambrose got an amazing economy-rate, he also can scare the hell out of any Batman & got an amazing record in all playing conditions, so as McGrath. McGrath also has the ability to take wickets of top order batsmen. Marshall on the other hand considered a perfect fast bowler. He was quick, accurate, swings the ball. Akram was an artist of a bowler. Warne was a tactical genius with a lot of test wickets, but with a relatively ordinary ODI record.

    Well, Murali is not just the greatest wicket taking machine ever in both tests & ODI. He also carried the Sri Lankan bowling attack on his own for so long. He used to turn the bowl better than anybody else does. He is a tactical genius as well & made top batsmen look ordinary sometimes. He got amazing percentage of 5 for & 10 for. Also a remarkable bowling average for a Spinner. This guy truly is one of the greatest bowlers of all time, if not the greatest ever...!

  • Comment number 44.

    I think his action has been cleared but that doesn't mean he should be dropping Es.

  • Comment number 45.

    Great of the game.

  • Comment number 46.

    wrong action? That's just a case of sour grapes from some racists and others that cannot play spin. It's the same old babble that used to accompany the seam magicians from Pakistan each time they travelled to England, until the English learnt how to reverse swing, and now they keep mum eh! Eat dust Darrell Hair!

    Murali is a great man and a great cricketer. And unlike Warne who played for one of the best teams in the world, Murali began with the whipping boys of test cricket, taking them to the dizzy heights of world cup victory. If Sri Lanka are a force to reckon with today, then Murali has had a large part to play. Hats off!!!

  • Comment number 47.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 48.

    I love Murali as a man and a bowler, he is a truly great person and a much nicer guy then the other spin bowler of fame. However, in my opinion I have to say that I always have believed Warne to be the better bowler. Sure Murali has the better stats but Warne's ability to outhink a batsman and "psyche" him out was second to none and that unquantiviable ability puts him above Murali for me. But that does not take away from the fact Murali is a great guy and bowler and will be missed!

  • Comment number 49.

    Mixed feelings on Murali really, his action is clearly marginal in its legality and I believe when the analysis showed that virtually every bowler "chucks" to some extent they then set the limits to allow him to stay in the game. I suppose cricket needs its superstars and it would have been harsh to kick him out, particularly if he can't do anything about it. He put Sri Lankan cricket on the map, along with the likes of Jayasuriya and Aravinda de Silva and has stayed around to lead the next generation as well. Sri Lankan cricket remains all about the unorthodox, from the "Dilscoop" to Mendis and Malinga the Slinger... but Murali will surely leave a hole that's impossible for them to fill, just like Warne's retirement did for Australia.

  • Comment number 50.

    Not much to add to what I said @10.

    I'm not Australian, but like them I don't as a rule "celebrate" being beaten by other teams, whether Sri Lankan, West Indian, Australian or whatever. It's nothing personal against Muralitharan. I didn't realise that not liking being bowled out by Muttiah Muralitharan was a character flaw. Now I know better.

    If his action was/is legal why were the laws changed to accommodate it? Why was he investigated so may times? Why wasnt the one investigation not good enough?

    The bottom line is the authorities accepted his mitigations. That is fact. There is nothing for me to prove. The rules were changed precisely so that he would not have to "prove" that his action was "legal". That is fact.

    I am glad that he is a nice guy, but his bowling action wasn't cleared and the rules weren't changed because he is a nice guy and being a nice guy was not one of the arguments he and the Sri Lankan authorities put forward in his defence.

    The "who's a chucker? You're a chucker! No, you're a chucker!" game can be played from here to the outer rims of space for all I care.

    The question isn't "who's a chucker?" The question is: "why was this particular bowler singled out for attention (and he was, that is fact) above all the other alleged chuckers? That is the question those people (who are interested in that sort of thing) should be asking.

    I don't know why he was singled out. But he was, by umpires, spectators and other players. It is fact that his bowling, more than any other bowler since Warne, could turn and win games on its own. Maybe all those other alleged chuckers didn't do it all the time. Maybe they couldn't turn a game with their "unorthodoxies" to the extent that he could. I don't know. When games are won and lost on what people think is the basis of a bowling action, people will talk.

    His records will never be challenged. But cricket (and cricketers) has a memory, and its a long one. The same way people remember 1953, 1981, 1984, 2005, people will remember Muralitharan. For better or worse, because that's what memories are for.

  • Comment number 51.

    Ben Dirs, not just a live update banterer, you can really write! excellent article about a man who is as near as damnit an actual angel. He truly is good karma personified.

  • Comment number 52.

    An example of a real champion in sport. What a legend...

    Motihur Rahman

  • Comment number 53.

    Muralitharan is a legend and one of the all time greats in cricket and for Sri Lanka. He will be a massive for Sri Lanka and for cricket.
    Its very unlikely we will see the records he made ever be broken.
    I wish him all the best for Muralitharan in his final international match for Sri Lanka today.

  • Comment number 54.

    Pointing out what Emerson and especially what Hair did(who no balled him for a legbreak ball),really was uncalled for. They suspected he chucked, and thankfully ICC (on the rare occassion) changed the rule that the bowler was reported rather than call it on the field. Since then we have had Malik, Samuels, Schilling, harbajhan to name a few of being reported. In Murali's case his action has been checked and verified albeit with some modifcations to the law on the increase to the quantum of the arm being bent. Sadly I saw shane Watson on the field once in Dubai, trying to get Ajmal to be called for chucking while the game was goig on. All these incidents had an Aussie flavor to it but thatis now history. How will I remember Murali, as a great bowler who had a dodgy action due to his deformity. So can I blame him for his action - No. Murali accept you accolades and enjoy the glory. Even if you dont win today you are a winner. Unlike Warne, you have carried yourself much better as a cricketer from an overall perspective. I know you would have loved to bowl more in Sydney on day 4/5 but you were denied this by Cricket Australia. So go on and be a true ambassador for the game.

  • Comment number 55.

    I have no problem with the man himself. He seems very genial and a great ambassador for the sport and Sri Lanka.
    BUT he throws the ball. Pure and simple. I understand that he was born that way and it is not a calculated attempt to gain an advantage, but it is an unfair advantage nonetheless.
    Yes - I know he has been cleared by the authorities, but it would be very naive indeed not to believe that there was not a heavy dose of politics in that decision.
    He has been around so long now that it seems churlish to still be talking about this, but longevity is really no excuse for continuing to break the rules.

  • Comment number 56.

    rienzie - I'm Australia, and I don't know any Australia who doesn't love Murali. Most people I know don't put his wicket taking exploits down to his action, more the fact that like Sir Richard Hadley, Murali had to shoulder the wicket taking burden petty much on his own (with the small exception of Vaas sometimes). I love Murali and will love him even more if he can win a second world cup (sorry Sachin)

  • Comment number 57.

    Jim, I too am Australian, but i have seen Australians chant "chuck chuck chuck" when he was here. And he has endured all of that yet kept his dignity (cannot say the same of arjuna). While there are a large number who love him , there is a minority including Hair and Emerson who really made his stay here very uncomfortable. And yes today's final will be a cracker. Cannot wait to watch it...Murali and Sachin... 2 true legends of the game... I hope you'll be on fox tel , to watch a cracker!!!

  • Comment number 58.

    I think Murali is a great bowler. Top record.

    His action still remains open to debate. And shows nothing really wrong with Murali - more so the ICC. Murali just bowled - as he does - and had been allowed.

    Who is to say the action during testing is the same he uses in the middle ?
    Does he put as much spin on the ball during testing as he does in the middle.
    That would be a way of knowing.

    The laws were changed to accomodate his flex. The ICC acted way too slow on the whole issue. An earlier action may have led to a change in action. They could not very well suspend a guy who already had 200 or 300 wickets. When he was no balled - the ICC were caught out.

    As for the umpires who no balled him. As Hair recently said - not every ball was illegal. It was just some he believed he put a bit extra on - with a bit of extra flex.

    But in any case - we will never know - he may have taken 800+ wickets with a perfectly straight arm too. Too late now.

    You have to admire Murali for simply getting on with it. He doesn't make the rules or the calls.

  • Comment number 59.

    #32 addison_a_monster, you need to have your eyesight and your birth certificate checked, surely you were not born but hatched if you say Malinga is a Chucker!!!

    Have fun guys, see you all after the match ........

  • Comment number 60.

    And, JRM, he never defended himself on the basis that some other guy was a chucker as well. He always denied being a chucker.

    If we are going to respect him then we might as well respect his defence of his action and not say its okay because other people chuck as well.

  • Comment number 61.

    @ ollie...

    no one ever actually said it was about ecstacy, many radio stations banned the song because it implied the use of the drug in the line ' 'es a good'..... completely irrelevant though, what a sham Murilli is retiring, after Warne retired and now him theres no real character bowlers left!!!! unless you count Tait, who is a chucker.....

  • Comment number 62.

    I don't criticise the man, I criticise his bowling action. It is profoundly suspect. I tend to believe the evidence of my eyes. You omit to mention that, deep into Murali's career, after (I believe) more than one international umpire had no-balled him for chucking, they changed the bowling rules concerning the legal degree of bending in the arm. Why was it thought necessary to change those rules? It certainly benefited Murali as much as anyone. I am deeply suspicious of the "scientific" decision to clear his action, because that decision brought great political and commercial benefits to cricket which, like any sport, needs its heroes.

  • Comment number 63.

    For all those who think Murali was better than Warne, quoting more wickets, better wickets to game ratio's etc. Muralitharan will never be better than Warne. Why?......

    Warne had to share his wickets with Merv Hughes, Craig McDermott, Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie, Brett Lee. To name a few.

    Murali shared his with.......oh yeah.....Vaas and Malinga (I think they, possibly, may have been able to tie the boots of McGrath at some point).

  • Comment number 64.

    Okay first within the laws of cricket there is nothing against bowling with a bent arm it's bending it at the elbow which is illegal. Technically there is no room for bending it a little even 1 degree in the current laws.

    It was perceived that while straightening was illegal you could only see it if 10 degrees or more of change occurred so this was a 'gentlemans' agreement of tolerance.

    When Murali first popped on the seen it was seen that he was bending at the elbow. Thus according the laws he was bowling No Balls however the question was whether he was in 10 degree tolerated.

    The ICC launched an investigation into the tolerance and applied this to ALL bowlers at the time using video footage from games around the world including Murali. Murali was found to be at the far end of the accepted tolerance however the big shocker was quite a few bowlers like Glenn McGrath (whos action has never been called into question and is actually extremely well praised) were actually over it!

    The ICC then changed the 'tolerance' to 15 degrees as this was clearly visible to the umpire.

  • Comment number 65.

    So McGrath's a chucker then? Always suspected something a little 'off' there.

  • Comment number 66.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 67.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 68.

    What part of my last post was deemed 'inflamatory'!!! Was it the part that dared to question Muralitharans action or the part that suggested that the ICC changed the rules in a political decision to allow him to compete. If the ICC had known he would take so many wickets then i doubt that the decision to change the rules would ever have been made.

  • Comment number 69.

    Obviously Murali doesn't deserve to be abused, and if scientific research has proven that it's impossible for him to bowl in an orthodox manner then fair enough. But there'll always be a question mark over whether he did have an unfair advantage over other bowlers because of his action and therefore he'll probably never get quite the acclaim that one might expect for someone who's broken as many records as Murali has.

  • Comment number 70.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 71.

    Look it doesn't matter if he was born with a deformity or not a bowler should bowl with a straight arm....period. If I was born without legs I wouldn't become a runner would I! The bowling arm should come straight over your shoulder and preferably touch your ear as it comes down, which is clearly not the case with Muralitharan. If he had been born English he would never have been allowed to bowl the way he does, it either would have been coached out of him or he would have been turned into a batsman! He was only ever allowed because the ICC were doing everything to encourage Sri Lanka on the international scene and they didn't want to be seen to penalise a player from a country who at that time had fewer players to pick from. If evidence be needed then why were the rules changed? Would the ICC change the rules to accommodate an English bowler or an Australian? Of course not when there are plenty more players around to be picked. Muralitharan's action is never going to be taught in schools in the same way the classic bowling action of a Larwood or Lillee would which in itself is an indication that it is not correct. Another one who has slipped through the net is Malinga who's bowling arm does not even come over the shoulder but from the side in a slingshot action.

  • Comment number 72.

    Well Ben I am absolutely astonished the BBC Cricket presenter has to consult "Twitter" about the finest spin bowler the world has ever seen, eclipsing even the great Shane Warne. Tut tut BBC & then has the cheek to mention his bowling action (fully approved by the ICC many years ago) in a negative way. you could have said "Should be very interesting to see the clash of the titan's, Murali & Satchen, the last time to see the worlds finest batsman & bowler in odi cricket & see with interest who comes out on top".

  • Comment number 73.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 74.

    The Foundation of Goodness is a thoughtful initiative. Hats off to world class bowler Muttiah Muralitharan. Thanks for the wonderful moments on and off the field.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 75.

    By the looks of the performance today, I think Murali had sadly played his final match at his home ground in Sri Lanka in the semi-final. Still, the man is an absolute legend. While I am glad that India had a well-deserved victory, I am sad for two things: that Murali will be going out not having taken a wicket in his last match; and that Sachin Tendulkar did not manage to reach his 100 ODI centuries milestone in the final of the World Cup... now that would have been sweet!

    What an amazing match it was to watch tonight - India winning on home turf is certainly one of my highlights of the cricket world cup. I still cannot believe they won after being 30 something for two! Well done India!!

  • Comment number 76.

    Murli is a good man, he is happy go lucky and I have never seen him misbehave however that does not clear the fact that his action not was legal when he was brought into the game. I don't know how many people remember Sri Lanka walking off the field when he was called for an illegal action.

    The reason for all of this is pretty simple, Sri Lanka found someone who could do things with the ball that were not possible with a legal bowling action. Murli and his supporters might be deluding them selves into thinking that he is clean but how does that explain the change in rules that the ICC made for him. The ICC found a bunch of cheaters (or chuckers) this includes Shoaib Akhtar and some other ones and the related countries whined into making a change of rules.

    It is true that Murli does have a deformity but by using it to cheat legally does not make him a great. Shane Warne will not be remembered for being a good guy one thing he will be remembered for is being a great bowler much much better than Murli whose country and board pressured the rest of the world into accepting something that was clearly illegal. His action could have been cleaned up or brought into legal limits but that would limit most of his bowling.

  • Comment number 77.

    To those who say the ICC changed the laws to accomodate Murali ( i.e assorted unknowing ignorami of middle England village cricket club- village being the operative word)... FALSE. Cricket would have had to be declared void and never played again as almost all bowlers were found to be over the accepted limit.

    For those who say "well. he looks like a chucker"... have you seen a film called the crying game.

    For me ,Murali is ecstasy personified. So let us be standing and join me in celebrating the career of a victimised genius who never played the victim only the victor.

    PS Emerson, Hair and Harper you anatomically cannot "chuck" a leg spinner. If you dont understand that I hope you enjoy the football.

  • Comment number 78.

    My last post (in response to ncurd) was censored, as will this one be because it uses the word censorship, as have many other posts that attempt to discuss Muralitharan objectively, which in itself is part of the problem when talking about Muralitharan.

    You cannot have a proper discussion about Muralitharan's action compared to other bowlers unless you discuss the mechanics of that action over the time and space of the bowling action as a whole and when those time-space mechanics amount to a legal and when an illegal action. It was my discussion of those mechanics between Muralitharan and McGrath that was censored.

    Complaining about Muralitharan being "abused" is mssing the point. If you look like you are chucking the ball you are going to get abused. That is the way things have worked for the best part of 120 years of high class international cricket. It's the politics of this issue were put aside and the issue looked at on the basis of the rules of the game alone then the so-called "abuse" would never have arisen because then the issue of Muralitharan's action would have been settled right before he ever began playing international cricket.

    If Muralitharan and the Sri Lankan Cricket Board had wanted to spare Muralitharan the embarassment of being publicly no-balled time and again (which is what the rules required of the umpires at the time), they could have either changed his action or consulted with the ICC at the start of his international career and obtained a dispensation on account of his physical factors.

    Unfortunately neither of those things were done and Muralitharan was forced to endure years of criticism until pressure inside and outside of cricket forced the ICC's hand. It is because the ICC were forced into action that people can now talk of Muralitharan being cleared and are now free to "celebrate" him.

    That Shane Warne can talk about Muralitharan in the context of his popular impact upon the game alone is a tribute not only to Warne's diplomatic skills, but to the success of an ICC clearing processs that never would have happened had it been left to the Sri Lankans alone. Calling another cricketer a "chucker" is a serious matter, not to done lightly. In fact it is practically never done. In spite of that no one should ever assume that just because cricketers as a rule dont go round calling their opposition bowlers "chuckers" that everyone who has ever played against Muralitharan is blind.

    Disinformation and censorship go hand in hand whenever the subject of Muralitharan comes up. It is ironic that a blog that complains about a bowler being "misunderstood" is actively censoring people's efforts to understand what that bowler is about.

  • Comment number 79.

    Most of Warne's wickets are against England who can't play spin bowling - may be like Murali bowling to Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.
    Compare how they fared against India (especially in India) and you get the picture - who is the greatest spinner (stats are there for all to see)

  • Comment number 80.

    "PS Emerson, Hair and Harper you anatomically cannot "chuck" a leg spinner. If you dont understand that I hope you enjoy the football."

    You cannot chuck a leg spinner using the normal leg spinner's action. Murali's leg spinner is not bowled with that action, and has been given the name doosra.


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