Sunday, July 15, 2007

Muralitharan Cruising at 700

(Courtesy: CricInfo)

Muthiah Muralitharan claimed his 700th test wicket in the 193-run innings victory against Bangladesh yesterday (14 July 2007). Becoming only the second bowler in the history of test cricket to reach the 700 mark, Murali is now just 8 wickets behind the Australian legend Shane Warne who holds the world record for claiming the most test wickets.

Murali has come a long way, a very long way, since his debut against Australia on Aug 28, 1992 - 6 months after Shane Warne's debut. Little did anyone know on Sep 2, 1992 that the debuting bowler having claimed 3 wickets in his first match would go on to become such a relentless wicket-taker as to shrug off this feat as a routine, but shrug it off with reverence; He values his statistics and records, but he takes inspiration from his recent record to set the next one. Now, he says, it is the 1000-wicket mark that he is eyeing and not eyeing surpassing Shane Warne's record of 708.

So deceptive is this Sri Lankan's action that Alan Border mistook the bowler's first ball, an off-breaker, for a leg-breaker. Among the multitude of tricks that he has up his sleeve, the doosra, his most coveted weapon, when unleashed, makes all hell-mets break loose, including those of the umpires' (for their dislike for his doosra action, to be detailed below). Murali's action in his own words were:

Ball in first two fingers, thumb to the side, the ball pushed out, that's the slider, the one that scoots low on landing. Same grip, only thumb on top and fingers running over the ball on release, that's the toppie. And the doosra - I really turn the wrist one more than normal.

Murali honed his skills sharper than the blades of a knife but not without his bout of hurdles. Murali has valiantly battled his share of controversies but continues to set records unfazed by the criticism he faces for his bowling action. With a short run-up and a quick wristy spin action, Murali's bowling action is one of the most controversial in cricket history. He was tested by the ICC a number of times after he had been called for "chucking" and "illegal action", incidentally (or not) each time in Australia. His action was finally deemed legal attributing the "controversial" action to a congenital defect in his arms that disallows him from straightening the arm any further.

(Above: Darrell Hair no-balls Muttiah Muralitharan at Melbourne in December 1995. It was the first time an international umpire had called him for a suspect action. Muralitharan was later cleared by the ICC. Courtesy: CricInfo)

At the age of 35, Murali seems as fresh as a debutant in his spirits and as composed and strategic as a veteran in his technique. His each wicket whets his appetite for his next. So much so that he has taken only 12 tests to reach from the 600-mark to the 700-mark, averaging 8.33 wickets per test. At this rate he will surpass the Australian's record, ironically, against Australia in Australia!


Karthik Sriram said...

I hate this guy - not because he is successful, but because he is using an unfair disability. Its like a batsman who says he is so fat that he will sit in front of the stumps and play and that he will never be ruled out LBW. I know my analogy sucks, but I dont like Murali being tagged a matchwinner. In all matches played in SL, this guy starts bowling in the 6th over of the match and bowls some 40 plus overs in a day and gets 4-5 wickets - pathetic.

In my books, Murali has never won matches for SL against some tough opposition as regularly as Shane Warne - Warne has humiliated SA in SA and England in England - Murali has won one series(or match?) in England when he got 16 wkts in match - Shane Warne has done that multiple times, even though he had quality bowlers bowling before him (McGrath and Co.)

oLi said...

@Karthik: I could not agree more with you that Shane Warne has done so well as part of a really good bowling crew. Murali partly owes the credit to the lackluster SL bowling attack.

But I don't agree that he should not take advantage of his birth defect. I mean, in all fairness, a basketball player is taking advantage of his "defect" of being tall. A football player is taking advantage of his "defect" of being huge etc. As long as he's not cheating, he is doing a great job as a bowler.

Karthik Sriram said...

But in basketball, many people are tall! ditto with football.

Murali seems to be the only bowler with this defect!

Anonymous said...

I agree with you karthik. Not only he had bowled 40 overs also if you check out his five wicket howls it is mostly from Srilanka grounds and also against teams with out their star players.
He also really sucks when he bowls in international ground. How to approve one player as a mathc winner when he cant win match for his team in international grounds.
I met him once in a restaurant i will say one for sure he has some idea in his mind about him. I dint bother talking with him.

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