Big, bold eyes, bristling with sunshine and laughter, hope and joy, would surely have shed tears from the inside. Beneath his infectious charm and that buoyant exterior, Muttiah Muralitharan conceals pain and anguish, frustration and anger.
His dazzling off-spin might have illuminated the dullest of arenas, but then the Lankan’s career has been a blend of the light and the shade with dark clouds often threatening his very existence in the game.
To all of us, SL fans, he is our glittering ornaments, to others he is no more than an impostor, who had managed to hoodwink the law. The ends shall never meet.
Murali has learnt to put a lid over his emotions, his cricketing quest appears driven by that rage within. The fire only he can extinguish.
A deformity in his right elbow has meant that he was up against great odds from the very beginning of his career.Now, after debut against Australia at Colombo (RPS), Aug 28-Sep 2, 1992, Today he has conquered almost everything he could. Murali has a staggering 770 Test scalps from 127 Tests, and 505 ODI victims in 329 matches. The Highest Wicket-taker in both forms of the game.
His career has been marred by chucking issue. It’s about time that this contentious issue was settled once and for all. The key elements here was Muralitharan’s bent elbow and the dextrous wrist of his bowling hand. An illegal delivery is the one where the bowler bends and then straightens his elbow; on most occasions he gains extra speed. This particular ball is a chuck or a throw.
Muralitharan does not fall under this category. There is no denying that the elbow is bent, but he does not straighten it; it is his highly flexible and almost magical wrist that gets the ball to dance to his tunes. If more than an element of doubt about Muralitharan chucking persists — this after watching countless replays, from a variety of angles — then the benefit of doubt should definitely go to the bowler.
Muralitharan’s great Australian rival Warne is ambiguous when he says, "What he does is a mystery to everybody. He confuses the batsmen with his unusual action."
What might be bothering the batsmen when Muralitharan operates is that, due to a combination of a bent arm and out of the ordinary wrist, they have to contend with deliveries coming out of the hand from various heights.
Muralitharan’s ways with the ball will continue to evoke varied response, but his skills will never be in doubt. The tantalising flight, the deceptive loop, the vicious spin and the bag of tricks often have the batsmen in a tangle. It has been scientifically proven that Muralitharan, because of his deformity, cannot straighten his elbow to the extent for it to be illegal. Thus, he is in the clear, technically
International Cricket Council’s (ICC) bowling review panel COULD NOT decide on the evidence available whether Muralitharan was straightening his arm or not soon. It took a long time to accept the real thing atlast.
Today the debate should be put to rest forever. It is time Muralitharan, of eyes that laugh, of a wrist that delights, and of a spirit that is boundless, received true recognition.