Yes, the controversial title drew me in too.
Being the patriotic Sri Lankan that I am, I clicked on the link that read: ‘The Great Murali about to chuck it in’ expecting to hear some drivel bashing Muttiah Muralitharan, written by an Australian of course.
What I got was indeed written by an Australian. Yes, on an Australian site, as well. But, it wasn’t drivel.
Geoff Lemon from The Roar has a fascinating piece on Muralitharan (Muralidaran) that I urge you all to read; a few excerpts below.
On the views that some Australian’s harbour over his bowling action,
Australia has a difficult relationship with Murali. This is where he was originally called for throwing in 1995, and again in 1999. While fans across the world have opinions about the legality of his bowling action, locals seem to take it personally. With all the vocal assurance of the unqualified, they bray that he’s a chucker whose records can be discounted.
Testing by teams of biomechanists and clearance from the ICC have made little difference. Murali’s subsequent visits were taken as occasions to demonstrate the laziness and boorishness that make up an unfortunate part of our national character.
During the 2002 Ashes, the Barmy Army mocked Brett Lee with roars of “no ball!” every time he came in to bowl. Justin Langer berated them to the press after play. Never mind that Australian crowds had so mercilessly baited Murali that for years he elected not to tour here.
On Muralitharan’s Test retirement,
Murali had made no secret of his desire to get to 800 career wickets, a bracket no other bowler has reached or is likely to do. Yet with 792 to his name, he announced that he would retire after one more Test, the first of this year’s series against India.
What about the record? he was asked by bewildered journalists. He would have a good chance, he said. If it came, it would come.
The important thing was there were young spinners who needed a chance in the team.
Not many bowlers could have been so Zen about the prospect of taking eight wickets in a match. Nor would many have put their hands up to walk away so close to a milestone, when even the team management was encouraging them to stay on. Not many, but then not many have ever rivalled Muralitharan in any respect.
For every worthless drunk who has jeered Muralitharan in Australia, one of it’s more finer citizens have stood up for him just as Lemon has done in this fine piece, and just as Sir Donald Bradman did in his biography.
Murali, too, must cherish the accolades and acknowledgements received from Australia best, not it’s worst. And knowing Murali, regardless of how he is received in Australia, he will only be leaving with the positives and that customary smile on his face.