Peter Roebuck has conducted a good interview with Muttiah Muralitharan for the Sydney Morning Herald.
In it, Murali talks about many things, but interestingly, Murali pointed out something that we may have not known before.
Murali said that when he was first no-balled by Darrell Hair in the Boxing Day Test Match, 1995, in front of 55, 000 people, it was not the first time the umpire had the opportunity to no-ball him if he felt that Murali was a chucker.
But Hair chose the right moment to do so in front of a massive crowd and during an event of such magnitude like the Boxing Day Test for reasons best known only to him.
PR: You had a great time in Melbourne yesterday, but in 1995 it was not so good. On Boxing Day, you were called for throwing from the bowlers’ end. What was your reaction?
MM: I was shocked. Darrell Hair had umpired me so many times before. Before the match I had bowled 10 overs in Sydney in a one-day game. So I was very surprised when he said I was illegal next match.
PR: What was it like to be called in front of 55,000 people on the first day of a series?
MM: I was so upset. The team was behind me, and I was able to change ends but that’s not real cricket. He had made up his mind what he wanted to do. That should not happen to another bowler. It’s very embarrassing. A single umpire cannot decide on the career of a bowler. If you are narrow-minded then you will see it that way.
PR: Don Bradman said it was the worst umpiring decision he had seen, and that you were obviously not throwing. Not every Australian was on your case. How did you feel that night?
MM: It was terrible because I didn’t know what to do or what was going to happen to my career.
PR: Another umpire called you in the one-dayers.
MM: [Ross] Emerson. He wanted to support [Hair]. He got it totally wrong. He called me when I bowled leg-spin in Brisbane. But now the rules are better, and the suspect bowler is reported and then technology looks at it, not one man’s naked eye. It’s a better system.
This makes you wonder what exactly umpire Darrel Hair’s motives were. Was he really doing his job? Not really. He didnt see the need to no-ball Murali before, but felt that he would do so during one of the biggest events in Australia.
Calling Murali during the Boxing Day Test would thrust a nobody like Hair into the limelight and cast him as a true Australian hero to some.
Didn’t quite work out like that for Hair, did it? The discgrace of an umpire faced several issues in his controversy ridden career and the honest, humble cricketer that Murali is, has survived and thrived.
Read the full interview here.