Muralitharan for dummies, red-necks and the borderline retarded

It is said that empty vessels are the ones’ making the most noise. It is particularly true when it come to the comments sections of popular cricket web sites and even YouTube. You can be pardoned for thinking that all these hate comments about Murali are being made by puberty struck adolescent youth who were not even born when the great man made his test debut. But you will nevertheless be surprised at the real personalities behind the fake IM names.

In my experiences running into these Murali haters I have come across many personalities some of which would have a hard time accepting the spelling for A-R-G-U-M-E-N-T let alone understand one. But to summarize, there have been five.

  1. Certain Channel 9 brainwashed Aussies, who are probably represented by that gullible red neck John Howard.
  2. The very small portion of India and England who have run out of tissues and are taking their frustration on the internet. No prizes for guessing what two countries Murali has taken most wickets against.
  3. The celebrated sports personalities who crave for the limelight through controversy.
  4. Old ‘have been’ cricketers who can’t go to sleep at night.
  5. Shane Warne and his poker buddies Greg Matthews and Terry Jealous-Jenner, whom at every given opportunity want to remind people it’s okay to get 100 wickets less than Murali. While in my honest opinion, I believe Warne was tactically a better bowler, but there is no doubt that Murali was the better human being which in the current era is his most important quality.

There have been many arguments being made by the non-believers if I may say so (not for the lack of a more explicit word, but to keep the conversation civilised and not chase away any of them from reading this). For every argument they make there is a logical answer. After all if there was even the slightest possibility that a logical argument could be made against him, there is no doubt the ICC would have come down on this small islander with vigour unmatched by Zeus when he fought the Titans. After all that’s what everybody wanted.

So I thought of rebutting all of these popular myths and urban legends once and for all. At least next time I will only need to copy paste this in a forum reply. But then again, I’m assuming the people in question have an IQ to understand logic. You can only lead a horse to the water’s edge, you can’t make it drink.

1. “He chucks it, how could you not see it? He bends his arm.”

As per laws of the game (which were written before Murali was born) a bowler cannot straighten their arm after it reaches the level of the shoulder in the delivery stride. The delivery is legal as long as the arm does not straighten. Murali has a congenital deformity which has made his right arm impossible to straighten. At the straightest possible position it still has a 22 degree angle from the elbow. When he rotates his arm to bowl it goes through the cycle bent (at least) 22 degrees. That’s why there is an optical illusion that makes it look like he throws. To add to the illusion of a jerk we need to also look at his shoulder. His shoulder joint is hyper-mobile and can almost pop out of the socket. Do this simple exercise. Hold a pen facing horizontally by your thumb and index finger. Now move it up and down really fast while keeping the grip loose. You should see a bend in the pen. It’s not magic it’s a simple optical illusion. It is the same thing that happens when you have a hyper-mobile shoulder joint when bowling.


2. “The rule was changed to 15 degrees to accommodate him”

In 1999 (before Murali ever started bowling the doosra) the ICC made some changes to the rule regarding chucking. During biomechanical testing it was found that the human eye cannot distinguish arm straightening if the bowlers arm rotates at high speeds. So the ICC taking this to account changed the flex tolerance from 0 to 10 degrees for fast bowlers, 7.5 for medium fast bowlers and 5 for spinners. It was widely criticised for not having any scientific logic being those numbers given. After all saying someone is medium fast is subjective to say the least. So when murali reported 9 degrees when bowling the doosra (Not his off spinner which was still inside the legal 5 degrees) during the testing done at the University of Western Australia in 2004 by expert scientists in the field of human movement; the Australian media sensationalized the issue by calling him a chucker. What they failed to mention was that even in that report the scientists argue that Murali who has the same arm rotational speed equal to the fast bowlers should be in fact getting the 10 degree tolerance level.

During the ICC champions trophy the ICC decided to review the 10 degree tolerance level by conducting a review of all the bowlers. And this was when the cat jumped among the pigeons. Bowlers whom the cricketing community hailed as having great actions reported 14 degree flexes. The Australian pace trio of Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie and Brett Lee along with Shaun Pollock were the most severe cases reported. ( In fact 99% of all bowlers tested returned negative results. ( Only Ramnaresh Sarwan had no straitening when bowling his leggies.

The ICC could have made two choices. Ban all bowlers who were going over the 0 degree level. Yes the 99% of them. Or bring in a realistic threshold. The biomechanical scientists from the University of Western Australia along with other experts suggested that it should be made 15 degrees for all bowlers. They argued that an umpire cannot pick straightening of less than that threshold using the human eye anyway. So the technical committee made amendments to the rule regarding chucking and in cooperated the 15 degree rule.

You could argue that Murali instigated the research done into bowling, but there is no doubt that he was as clean as any other bowler who bowled in cricket’s history. The research showed all bowlers straightened their arms and the rule was not changed for Murali.


3. “He was not tested in match conditions”

As any biomechanical scientist with any type of qualification will tell you it is near impossible to capture the data required during a match. They track the markers placed on bowlers arms in 3D which is impossible to do in a match. To compensate for this; they record the speeds and amount of turn the bowlers get during the matches and get the bowlers to replicate these measurements in the lab. Besides if there was ever a technology that allowed testing in a match Murali would have been the first to ask for it. It is not his fault that a technology does not exist to do so. It is unfortunate too; as Murali would have had a chance to nullify this argument for once and for all.

In several televised interviews he bowled wearing a metal brace. He bowled the off spinner, doosra and top-spinner of equal quality as he would do without the brace. You can search YouTube for the videos.

See what Dean Jones had to say

4. “He got more wickets against weaker teams”

While he got more wickets against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh than Shane Warne even without those wickets he has a better strike rate and average than Warne. Besides going by Murali’s strike rate against England he would have gone past 900 wickets if he got as many opportunities against them as Warne did. Even against India, arguably the best players of spin; Murali has a much better record than Warne. Statistically there is no one even close to Murali. I’ll ask you this. Are you aware the great Don Bradman scored 90% his runs against England?

See the stats excluding weaker teams here

5. “Warne had to share his wickets with McGrath.”

While this is a fair argument, Warne has taken more tail-ender wicktes than Murali. Warne would have taken more top order wickets if he had the opportunity but his strike rate and average would have suffered. Murali did not have any class bowler except Chaminda Vass to build up pressure and often came into bowl when the opposition was well set. Warne enjoyed bowling in tandem with McGrath and often had the best fielding team supporting him. In this argument there is no real winner. Both were great bowlers and we cannot assume about things that did not happen. Warne was no lesser or greater than Murali. Warne was though cannier and tactical.

See the stats here

Hard wrapping your thick skull around the unpresidented evidence? Need a Tissue?

For anyone who still has any doubts about Murali’s action please take some time and look at these videos. They explain everything I’ve said above.


Isn’t it time you got your head out of the sand and call it as it is?

He is a fair-dinkum legend who transcends nationality, race and religion. That too while having the eternally etched smile on his face. He rightfully sits next to Bradman as the king of bowlers. The cricketing Bible Wisden agrees. Need I say more?


Leave a Comment