Australia v Sri Lanka 2010-11 October 19, 2010

New role but same old Murali

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Muttiah Muralitharan's team-mates expect no lessening of the offspinner's powers as he begins life as an international limited-overs specialist. Murali, 38, retired from Tests in July with a record 800 wickets and after taking a break has been increasing his load ahead of engagements in Australia over the next three weeks.

He is part of the squad that has just landed in the country, a place in which he has often been treated poorly on both sides of the fence. The captain Kumar Sangakkara smiles when he talks about Murali's impact on the team and he will bolster the squad after missing the home tri-series victory in August.

But Sangakkara turns serious when discussing criticism of Murali. "It's always been unjustifiable if Murali has not been received well in any country," Sangakkara said. "Just for the bowler he is, the character he is, he is a wonderful human being. However the fans react to him, or whether they accept him, it doesn't matter in the long run because the whole cricketing world love him for who he is. And he's very secure in that."

Murali was called for throwing at the MCG in 1995-96 and boycotted the 2004 tour here following comments from John Howard, Australia's prime minister, over his action. While he was adored during the tsunami fundraising match in Melbourne in 2005, he was part of a Sri Lankan group that had eggs thrown at it in Hobart two years ago.

"We just want him to enjoy himself and play for as long as he wants to play and be part of our team," Sangakkara said. "It's a joy to see him play. For us to have him in our side is a huge boost of confidence."

Murali has come to Australia via South Africa, where he was part of Chennai's Champions League T20 victory, taking three wickets in the final. In 22 ODIs Down Under Murali has 31 victims at 32.70, with the home batsmen usually content to see out his overs.

The coach Trevor Bayliss expects Murali to benefit from his Test-free workload and not suffer during the transition. "At this stage of his career having a rest every now and then will be good for him," Bayliss said. "He's just had a little bit of time off and he's come back from the Champions League full of beans, and is bowling really well in the nets."

The Sri Lankans open their tour with a one-day game against Queensland at the Gabba on Friday and have some more fine-tuning before a Twenty20 in Perth on October 31 and three ODIs the following week. While it is hard to know what long-term benefits the visitors can achieve from such a short series, Sangakkara's aims are clear.

"Hopefully we get a victory in the series, that'll be great for us going forward," he said. "We know how tough it is in Australia. We've been here before and we're yet to win, this is a great challenge to the guys."

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • dummy4fb on October 25, 2010, 21:40 GMT

    An Australian called Sir Don Bradman, never believed Murali was a chucker! Proof: Sydney Morning Herald newspaper- http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/12/04/1101923389044.html (END OF ARGUMENTS)

  • chamizzz on October 25, 2010, 17:05 GMT

    W.Garrett FYI If Warne was playing in sri lanka, his carrier had been over disgracefully as a cheater after proving guilty in the drug candle.

  • dummy4fb on October 25, 2010, 12:50 GMT

    @ YoBro NOW DONT SAY BRADMAN IS A CHUCKER :P

  • dummy4fb on October 25, 2010, 12:46 GMT

    @YoBro, FYI - Srilankans won spirit of the game award twice at the ICC awards - did u ever know such awards existed? wer r u from - Ind or Aus? Both countries never got and wud never get that prestigious award which would require the game to be played in the right spirit. Calling SL whiners? at least we did not cry in mid-pitch after getting thrashed in WC semi final (1996) :P

  • chamizzz on October 25, 2010, 6:40 GMT

    What u idiot knows about bowling, Bowling with a bent arm can not be considered as chucking as long as it stays bent while bowling, only if there is a flexion of the arm while the ball is delivered can be considers as chucking that is also a flexion of more than 15 degrees.

  • lynds on October 25, 2010, 4:50 GMT

    We all know Murali's a chucker. Even a friend of mine, who doesn't know anything about cricket at all, knows Murali's a chucker. He bowls with a bent arm, which is chucking. But Murali can't straighten his arm. The facts are that he has a permanently bent elbow and is a wrist spinner, not a finger spinner. This makes him look much more like a chucker than he really is. It's hard to say how much he actually bends his elbow, because of his disability.

  • YoBro on October 24, 2010, 19:10 GMT

    @Paddy: live on in your wonderland. The whole world knows that rules were blatantly bent to "diplomatically" let your chucker Murali bowl. He's actually worth 300-350 wickets max. SL team is full of whiners and needs such crumbs in order to compete. You can justify it all you want with a few Profs names. That doesn't change the truth that he ruined Hair's career as well, for doing his umpiring job fairly. I'd call Murali even in my sleep. It is that obvious that he chucks.

  • dummy4fb on October 23, 2010, 12:48 GMT

    AND ignorant fools, there is a difference between "bent arm" and "bending the arm" during delivering the ball - only the later can be defined as "throwing" and Murali DOES NOT BEND HIS ARM during delivery. And so many experts, including that Prof. Bruce Ellliot of University of Western Australia and commentators Ian Chappell and Tony Greig have repeatedly said Murali is a wrist spinner and so he cant bend his arm during the delivery, which would be possible in the case of a finger spinner - If you are a spin bowler, you will understand what they are talking about, but if you are a dummy, then God help you !

  • pakwellwisher on October 22, 2010, 14:29 GMT

    @bridget01 You really cracked me up mate. yes this guy is a chucker. Its pretty simple forget all those tests its just like throwing but with wrist turned the other way and the back of the hand facing the batsman. Had he been in australia he would been still carrying drinks for the rest of the guys!!

  • sadSajith on October 21, 2010, 16:18 GMT

    Aussies can stand Muralis cleverness but they can't stand his decency.

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