Test cricket July 21, 2010

The Jimi Hendrix of offspin

Muttiah Muralitharan’s incredible Test career is almost at an end, and, as I write, he is in the process of attempting to become the first and last man to take 800 Test wickets.
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Muttiah Muralitharan’s incredible Test career is almost at an end, and, as I write, he is in the process of attempting to become the first and last man to take 800 Test wickets.

Given the nature of modern international cricket, I think I can predict that no one else will reach 800 with a similar level of confidence as someone announcing that John Wilkes Booth will always retain the world record for Most Assassinations Of Abraham Lincoln, or that 1924 Olympic sprint champion Harold Abrahams will never again break his own personal best for the 100 metres. Murali’s mark will stand for all time. Unless Sajid Mahmood discovers both the elixir of eternal youth and the DNA of Freddie Trueman lurking in his garden shed behind a tin of creosote and a broken lawnmower.

Murali, the Jimi Hendrix of offspin, and surely Peter Such’s only serious rival as the greatest spin bowler of the late 20th century, has just two more days before he joins the ranks of former cricketers, alongside Grace, Bradman, Sobers, Warne, Capel, Igglesden and the rest. Seven more Indian scalps lie between him and a final statistical cherry on his cherry-laden multi-layered career cake. He already has Tendulkar in the bag for the eighth time, the Mumbai Master presumably weakened by spraying litres of his magic blood all over copies of his biography.

Disappointingly, Murali’s first innings of his final Test was brief and contained no sixes. One of the lesser-trumpeted stats emerging from his 18 years of Test cricket, but one worth a quick brassy toot nonetheless, is that he stands fifth on the all-time list of Sri Lankan Test match six-hitters, with 29, behind Jayasuriya, Aravinda de Silva, Jayawardene and Ranatunga, and some considerable way ahead of the likes of 83-Test interest void Hashan Tillakaratne, and 1980s teenage one-Test-wonder Sanjeewa Weerasinghe, who has hit the same number of Test sixes as I have.

Of all Murali’s Test runs, 13.8% have been scored with maximums (impressive, but some way behind surprise all-time leaders Shoaib Akhtar [24.3%] and Michael Holding [23.7%], both bowlers who could swing the bat with the confidence that only a certifiable lunatic would attempt to curb their mayhem with a bouncer). Murali also has the fifth-highest recorded batting strike rate (70.28) of those with over 1000 Test runs. He should be the role model for all tailenders. No blocking and nudging, no eating up valuable bowling overs scrimping the odd single and exasperating the watching world. See it, whack it, giggle when you hit it, giggle when you miss it.

Whether the fireworks that accompanied Murali out to bat were to mark his final Test, or in recognition of Abhimanyu Mithun having just become the 17th Indian to take four or more wickets in his debut Test innings, must remain open to question. I have not seen the relevant paperwork.

And the fireworks when Sri Lanka later took the field could easily have been a tribute to Herath and Malinga registering respectively the fourth and the equal fifth highest scores by Sri Lankan numbers 8 and 9, whilst jointly becoming only the first eighth-wicket partnership in all Test history to add exactly 115, and only the 40th combination of 8 and 9 to score half-centuries in the same innings. All of which are surely more worthy of fireworks than a man walking onto a bit of grass. Let History be the judge.

Murali made his debut in August 1992. It was a landmark year for bowling. Warne debuted on 2 January, Murali in August, and Kumble, after a solitary Test in 1990, was recalled by India in October. And, lest we forget, Ian Salisbury turned in the greatest debut by an England legspinner in over 60 years, taking five wickets, as many as Warne amassed in his first four-and-a-half Tests.

In one year, spin, perceived by many to be a dying art of decreasing value in top-level cricket, had simultaneously launched three of its greatest ever exponents on the unsuspecting batsmen of the world.

All cricket-worshipping parts of the world should be thankful for these titans of the game, and Sri Lanka most of all. Murali has taken 40% of all his country’s wickets in his Test career, and bowled a ludicrous 33% of all their overs, ratios unmatched in cricket history. He has also been their leading (or joint-leading) wicket-taker in 42 of the 53 Tests they have won with him in the team, including 37 of 41 from September 1996 to December 2007. They have won only seven of the 61 Tests they have played without Murali, compared with 53 of 131 with him. He has not merely held the key to Sri Lankan success, he has built the entire house.

One-man-New-Zealand-XI Sir Richard Hadlee is the only modern player who comes close to matching Murali on the Maradona Scale Of Absolutely Critical Importance To A Team. He took 35% of the Kiwis’ wickets, bowled a quarter of their overs, and was leading wicket-taker in 16 of the 22 wins New Zealand achieved in his 86 Tests. They won none of the 14 Tests he missed during his career, which suggests that Hadlee was as important to his country’s cricketing victories as Muhammad Ali was to Muhammad Ali’s triumphs in the boxing ring. New Zealand won only 14 of the 170 Tests they played without Hadlee up to 1997. He was, without question, a useful cricketer for his country.

So good luck, Murali, in your quest for those final seven wickets. Cricket will miss you, your whirling wizardry and your grinning competitiveness. I was fortunate enough to have been at The Oval on the final day of the famous 1998 Test when the full extent of Murali’s magnificence slapped England full in the chops like a 200lb haddock.

England, after generously deigning to play a piddling one-Test series against the now world champions for the first time since 1991, and fresh from brilliantly stealing a Test series from under the noses of a strong but fatally cautious South Africa, were delighted to be put in by the scheming Ranatunga on a flat pitch. The home team made a solid 445, as Murali twirled away defiantly to take 7 for lots. Ranatunga chuckled inside. The masterplan was in action. While the great spinner took the rest he needed in between bowling England out single-handedly twice, the batsmen would gorge themselves on a pristine surface − if Murali had had to work for his wickets on that pitch, then Ian Salisbury would have to get on his bended knees and pray for his. And pray hard. And probably sacrifice at least 100 head of oxen.

Jayasuriya, in his flamboyant pomp, treated England’s bowlers as a Victorian teacher would have treated the winners of the Top Five Naughtiest Boys competition. He whipped them mercilessly. After Murali had helped Suresh Perera add 59 quick and important runs for the last wicket, Sri Lanka had a lead of 146, and a day-and-a-half remaining.

Seamers Wickremasinghe and Perera fulfilled their contractual obligation of helping the batsmen hit the shine off the new ball, then Murali began to spin England into a paralysis of confusion. England, frankly, bricked it. The spell Murali cast over them is not entirely revealed by his own incredible figures − 9 for 65 in 54 overs of ceaseless mesmerism. Such was the strokeless rigor mortis that England contracted from him that, at the other end, Dharmasena, Jayasuriya and de Silva between them bowled 58 overs in support for just 58 runs. Had England been able to score at just two per over against these three less-than-demonic back-up tweakers, they would almost certainly have saved the game.

I was sitting near a large group of Sri Lankans who were, as Benaud said of the Edgbaston crowd in 1981, “going noisily berserk” as Murali carved himself into cricket immortality. It was a great day to be a cricket fan.

Well, it appears that, once again, I have stayed up past my bedtime truffling around for stats and writing this overlong blog, so the latest Q&A and more thoughts on Pakistan v Australia will have to wait a few days.

Instead, to conclude this spin-obsessed blog, here is a trivia question. Don’t look it up. That would be cheating. And besides, I’ll tell you the answer. So guess. Or telephone your friends and family to discuss the matter before settling on your final answer.

In the 1980s, only three spin bowlers took more than 50 Test wickets at an average of under 30. Who were they?

Think about it. Don’t look down the page yet.

Here comes the answer. If you get it right, you win today’s star prize, which is the right to jump around whatever office/train/bedroom/operating theatre you are reading this blog in, noisily celebrating your phenomenal rightness.

The answer is: Iqbal Qasim (131 at 24.99), Bruce Yardley (89 at 28.64), and Tauseef Ahmed (87 at 29.57).

If you answered correctly without being a close personal friend of at least two of Iqbal Qasim, Bruce Yardley and Tauseef Ahmed, you have my undying respect. Incidentally, thirteen spinners managed that feat in the 1950s, six in 1960s, five in the 70s, and eight in the 90s. Only three managed it in the 2000s – Warne, Murali and Swann − but with five more averaging below 31.3.

At ease.

Andy Zaltzman is a stand-up comedian, a regular on the BBC Radio 4, and a writer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • George on October 9, 2010, 3:47 GMT

    Good stuff. But jogesh99, I doubt most non-Aussies would wish similar for Ponting. And as an Aussie, that is ok. He has demonstrated neither the charm nor pureness of spirit to endear himself to opposing cricket fans that Murali did.

  • jogesh99 on August 14, 2010, 4:57 GMT

    Hows this for a tribute - most Indians wanted Murali to get those 8 wickets in his last test. We'd surely wish something similar for Ponting in his last test, wouldn't we?

  • waterbuffalo on July 30, 2010, 9:01 GMT

    Come on, Andy, the first Test is already in progress and not a squeak from you? What? Are you holidaying in Spain? You English are so predictable, all you care about are the ashes, Ozzy this Ozzy that, what about the rest of the world? Come on, we want to talk to you about this, Pakistan just beat Australia, and had england at 118-4, and all we are met with is a deafening silence. If you were not such a good writer I would not be bothered, but we need to know what you think. It is that simple.

  • PK on July 29, 2010, 19:00 GMT

    As always, excellent stuff. Please bring back the podcasts!

  • intikhab khan on July 28, 2010, 11:20 GMT

    rite now amir is the best bowler in the world asif is playing his role as his sport bowler danish kanaria shouldn b in the team ajmal is 100% beter than him

  • waterbuffalo on July 24, 2010, 7:13 GMT

    I was at the boxing day Test when Hair called Murali for throwing, I knew it before the commentators knew it, and quite frankly I thought his career was over, the thing is , he was only called in Australia, and not in any other country, though Bishen Bedi also is on record saying Murali throws, so who am I to argue with a left arm spinner who was captain of India. But Murali was a superb competitor, he would beat teams on his own.

  • Nissanka on July 23, 2010, 11:19 GMT

    NO !!! He is a Buddy Guy of of off spin

  • Sachin on July 23, 2010, 9:12 GMT

    Murli. . simply the best.. not comparable.. not chasable.. The best of all.

  • anurag bhide on July 22, 2010, 20:31 GMT

    hey Mr. Zaltman, please concede that the fact that murali has hit an inordinate amount of sixes in his career was brought to your notice by yours truly in a comment in one of your earlier blogs!!!!!!

  • Ravi Dharmasena on July 22, 2010, 19:11 GMT

    Lovely article Andy and hats off to you.I like the way you write.We not only enjoy what's written, we enjoy the way it's written too.Thanks

  • George on October 9, 2010, 3:47 GMT

    Good stuff. But jogesh99, I doubt most non-Aussies would wish similar for Ponting. And as an Aussie, that is ok. He has demonstrated neither the charm nor pureness of spirit to endear himself to opposing cricket fans that Murali did.

  • jogesh99 on August 14, 2010, 4:57 GMT

    Hows this for a tribute - most Indians wanted Murali to get those 8 wickets in his last test. We'd surely wish something similar for Ponting in his last test, wouldn't we?

  • waterbuffalo on July 30, 2010, 9:01 GMT

    Come on, Andy, the first Test is already in progress and not a squeak from you? What? Are you holidaying in Spain? You English are so predictable, all you care about are the ashes, Ozzy this Ozzy that, what about the rest of the world? Come on, we want to talk to you about this, Pakistan just beat Australia, and had england at 118-4, and all we are met with is a deafening silence. If you were not such a good writer I would not be bothered, but we need to know what you think. It is that simple.

  • PK on July 29, 2010, 19:00 GMT

    As always, excellent stuff. Please bring back the podcasts!

  • intikhab khan on July 28, 2010, 11:20 GMT

    rite now amir is the best bowler in the world asif is playing his role as his sport bowler danish kanaria shouldn b in the team ajmal is 100% beter than him

  • waterbuffalo on July 24, 2010, 7:13 GMT

    I was at the boxing day Test when Hair called Murali for throwing, I knew it before the commentators knew it, and quite frankly I thought his career was over, the thing is , he was only called in Australia, and not in any other country, though Bishen Bedi also is on record saying Murali throws, so who am I to argue with a left arm spinner who was captain of India. But Murali was a superb competitor, he would beat teams on his own.

  • Nissanka on July 23, 2010, 11:19 GMT

    NO !!! He is a Buddy Guy of of off spin

  • Sachin on July 23, 2010, 9:12 GMT

    Murli. . simply the best.. not comparable.. not chasable.. The best of all.

  • anurag bhide on July 22, 2010, 20:31 GMT

    hey Mr. Zaltman, please concede that the fact that murali has hit an inordinate amount of sixes in his career was brought to your notice by yours truly in a comment in one of your earlier blogs!!!!!!

  • Ravi Dharmasena on July 22, 2010, 19:11 GMT

    Lovely article Andy and hats off to you.I like the way you write.We not only enjoy what's written, we enjoy the way it's written too.Thanks

  • Nicolas on July 22, 2010, 10:22 GMT

    Wonderfully written - "giggle when you hit it, giggle when you miss it" that absolutely sums up a tailenders batting

  • David on July 22, 2010, 6:17 GMT

    What a joy to read. And congratulations to the author for his incitfull knowledge of this wonderful game. Long may Murali be remembered.

  • K.Niroshana Silva on July 22, 2010, 5:39 GMT

    This is the first time that I write a comment for any cricket artical eventhough I have read thousands. Because I felt the not commenting is bit selfish. This is the best I have ever read and the way it has presented. Congrats Mr. Andy Zaltzman. Keep it up

  • Ferose on July 21, 2010, 21:37 GMT

    MURALI IS THE GRAETEST, HE FLOATS LIKE A BUTTERFLY AND STINGS LIKE A BEE. HATS OFF TO THE CHARMING SMILER. THE NEXT ALI OF CRICKET

  • Hema Dassanayake on July 21, 2010, 21:20 GMT

    Murali is one of the greatest the world has produced in recent times, not only in cricket but in all spheres of activity. A role model for all young people to follow. Vince Lombardi (a great sports coach) once said " A man can be as great as he wants to be. If you believe in yourself and have the courage, the determination, the dedication, the competitive drive - .. it can be done" As reflected in the many appreciations across the world so lovely to read, Murali embodies all that. Best wishes to Murali in whatever he does to continue to be a role model for the human kind. Congratulations Andy for this great article.

  • Yusuf on July 21, 2010, 19:26 GMT

    Hello from a Sri Lankan Bugler!

    How come Murali has never got a mention on the Bugle, Andy? (At least the last ten or so)

    Give a cricket podcast a go? For the fans who aren't fanatics?

  • Prasad on July 21, 2010, 17:49 GMT

    Im really proud of you murali...Greatness comes with what the player brings to the game..If a player can announce his retirement at 792 wickets and still get to 798 at the 4th day...Woooow...Nothin to argue...he is the best..Still he can bowl..I do not knw wther he will reach 800 by tomorrow. But the joy you braught to cricket is worth more than 1000 wickets..

  • DK on July 21, 2010, 17:26 GMT

    Really nice article and some great observations. @Nisarg, Andy is talking about averaging less than 30 in 2000s. Kumble's average has been more than that during this decade.

  • Abdul Muzahir on July 21, 2010, 16:59 GMT

    Wonderful article with a tremendous tribute to once in a life time bowler. The achievements by Murali are great that no one can even come near. Wish him best of luck even if he gets upto 799. Well done and take heart. You are a great competitor and wish he could come out of retirement to play the full series and give an edge to Lankans. I am sure Mr. Rajapakshe would encourage him to change his mind and play the full series as a great tribute to a man who had rendered effortless service. We will definitely miss him. Best wishes Muzahir from Makkah, Saudi Arabia.

  • kaushik hegde on July 21, 2010, 16:47 GMT

    about that 2nd innings of the lords test, the only other wicket to fall was a run out effected by murali, talk about having a good day!

  • Upendra S on July 21, 2010, 14:54 GMT

    Thanks Andy. Great article. Murali I will miss you in test cricket !

  • JMike on July 21, 2010, 14:49 GMT

    I have to say that, as always, you have demonstrated a master craftsman's finely tuned sense of the humor available in the written word.

    Well done indeed.

    But I also have to say that, as a typical puerile American, I would greatly and personally appreciate it if you would crack just a few fart and booger jokes.

    Yours sincerely etc. --JMike

  • Simon on July 21, 2010, 14:45 GMT

    Nice as always Mr Z. Some pretty exhaustive use of Statsguru by the look of it as well. And of course, farewell to the extraordinary Murali.

  • Godfrey Weldt on July 21, 2010, 14:41 GMT

    I quote from the great Sir Don Bradman's conversations released to the Times of India by his publisher, Tom Thompson.

    "Bradman made it clear that he believed Hair should not have called Muralitharan for throwing during Sri Lanka's 1995-96 tour to Australia".

    "It was technically impossible for umpire Hair to call Murali from the bowler's end even once," wrote Bradman. This was the worst example of umpiring that I have witnessed and against everything the game stands for Sir Donald Bradman

    "I believe Hair's action - in one over - took the development of world cricket back by ten years." Bradman, who died earlier this year aged 92, had no doubts about Muralitharan's action and said he had "perhaps the highest discipline of any spin bowler since the Second World War".

    He continued: "He holds all the guile of the trade. He is the stuff of our greatest slow bowlers and for me, Murali is one like O'Reilly or Warne, who are game-breakers".

    Murali, Best Wishes!

    Godfrey Weldt (Perth)

  • Sohel ahmed on July 21, 2010, 14:25 GMT

    I was jumping up and down,was laughing my heart out,shouting nonsense and was hoping like anything someday i will also be able to write like the great andy zaltzman.Who else can write such humour so effortlessly?Who else can play,can juggle with words like andy does?Nobody

  • Yazad on July 21, 2010, 13:47 GMT

    "impressive, but some way behind surprise all-time leaders Shoaib Akhtar [24.3%] and Michael Holding [23.7%], both bowlers who could swing the bat with the confidence that only a certifiable lunatic would attempt to curb their mayhem with a bouncer" Hahaha Very good article :D

  • Anonymous on July 21, 2010, 13:13 GMT

    @Imran - i think andy made his point immediately after saying that! with the lack of test cricket being played, it's going to be very difficult for someone to get such a big haul in the future. the same way people said Mark Ramprakash is probably going to be the last person to score 100 first class hundreds. on the article - very nice indeed andy. but you didnt answer any of the questions people asked from the last post! what's up with that?

  • Milinda Dharmasena on July 21, 2010, 12:57 GMT

    Love, Peace & Respect!!!

  • Damon on July 21, 2010, 12:18 GMT

    Great Article - but you've missed the biggest highlight of Murali's career - his half season at Kent!

  • Dave on July 21, 2010, 11:46 GMT

    Nisarg Dave - The stat was for the 2000's, ie 2000-09. Swann's average has gone up since the start of this year and Kumbe's was better prior to 2000. I am afraid Andy has his numbers correct.

  • Muraliholic on July 21, 2010, 11:45 GMT

    Murali's son will definitely break his papa's records.

  • Shan on July 21, 2010, 11:16 GMT

    The Difference between Murali & warn is………... Murali can be compared to a turtle which lay many eggs but no noise, where Warn can be compared to a chicken where he does one thing (Lay an egg) and make big Noise. Legends do not talk. They just do it. That’s what Murali has done. Hope the difference is clear.

  • Bingo Haley on July 21, 2010, 10:43 GMT

    Lovely article! Well done Andy!

    Also good joke Imran! Ha ha!

  • Richard B on July 21, 2010, 10:22 GMT

    @nisarg dave

    Those are Swann's current career figures, which include this year. The current year is not considered part of the '2000s' rather it is the first year of the '2010s'. Some of his performances this yea have been less than magnificent, raising his career figures. you make the same mistake for Kumble, he was more successful in the 1990s than the last decade, and his figures for the '2000s' are less good. Hats off to Andy, delicious article.

  • KD on July 21, 2010, 10:15 GMT

    A fitting tribute to a true champion - today's cricketers should learn how to not create a fuss and go about their business from this great man.

  • Host.co.in on July 21, 2010, 9:48 GMT

    Yes Murali never behaved as he is someone special. He lived as a simple cricket player and remained away from any type of controversies and the Warne failed to do the same.

  • shantha on July 21, 2010, 9:45 GMT

    Muraliwoud have done much better if not for the obstacles that were forced upon him to clear his action. Any way he has achieved something which may not be overtaken by an yother bowler. Well done murali

  • Daniel on July 21, 2010, 9:37 GMT

    Great tribute to greatest spinner. Good on ya Andy. Hope murli would achieve the magical 800 wicks. Its bit sad not to see him after this.

  • Andy on July 21, 2010, 9:36 GMT

    @ nisarg dave

    he's talking about the 2000s not their whole career - swann has 62 wickets@29 and kumble 355@31

  • american-pak on July 21, 2010, 9:20 GMT

    Those who are fans of Murali batting must see this video:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eam87gvWRak

  • Nalaka on July 21, 2010, 9:14 GMT

    I was there at the Oval in '98 and I was probably one of the large group “going noisily berserk”. And yes, it was a great day to be a cricket fan.

    Great article and thanks for reminding me of one my greatest sporting memories.

  • Kash on July 21, 2010, 8:36 GMT

    Murali is with out doubt the finest spin bowler in the history of the game and perhaps even the greatest bowler of all times. i think he is the don bradman of bowlers, i doubt any one will ever equal his achivements. he has set a benchmark like sir don did that will never be surpassed. good luck murali in whatever you choose to do after cricket!

  • Sreenivas K R on July 21, 2010, 8:22 GMT

    Hats off to Murali. .. Nobody on this universe I think can beat this record of 800 wickets !! Through out his career Murali kept low profile and warne always respected Murali.

  • Imran on July 21, 2010, 8:04 GMT

    Why did you say that he is the last man to take 800 wickets?

  • Steve on July 21, 2010, 7:19 GMT

    One wonders what the impact a team would have had, had Warne and Murili been born in the same country. Batters would have welcomed facing Holding, Lilley, McGrath, Akram & Thompson.

    After many years playing, I always find it less disappointing being blasted out by an out and out quick rather than being made look like a fool against a quality slow bowler.

    A gentleman of the game and a true ambassador. Enjoy your retirement Murili as much as those who still play will enjoy your retirement :0)

  • Ishan Ranaweera on July 21, 2010, 7:13 GMT

    hahahah what an article! its as good as any article I ve seen about Murali in the last few days! well done!

  • nisarg dave on July 21, 2010, 7:07 GMT

    Hi Andy,

    The third player mentioned by you, to take 50+ wickets under an avg of 30 during 2000s, Greame Swann is wrong. Anil Kumble has taken 619 @ 29.65 and Swann has 91 @30.02!

    Hows that?

    Regards,

    Nisarg Dave

  • Mohammed F. Ifticardeen on July 21, 2010, 6:57 GMT

    One hell of an article. Nice read and nice way to salute the great-one :) thanks Andy!

  • Charindra on July 21, 2010, 6:23 GMT

    LOL!! A pretty great tribute to a legendary spinner who we will only fully appreciate the value of in a few decades... And yes, he certainly was the Jimi Hendrix of spin, but I also like to compare him to Freddie Mercury, as Mercury also carried Queen on his shoulders, was theatrical on stage but a bit camera shy in interviews, was a nice guy, and had natural talent that nobody else could come close to.

  • Hiran on July 21, 2010, 5:37 GMT

    Nice way to put stats up Andy! A good article

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  • Hiran on July 21, 2010, 5:37 GMT

    Nice way to put stats up Andy! A good article

  • Charindra on July 21, 2010, 6:23 GMT

    LOL!! A pretty great tribute to a legendary spinner who we will only fully appreciate the value of in a few decades... And yes, he certainly was the Jimi Hendrix of spin, but I also like to compare him to Freddie Mercury, as Mercury also carried Queen on his shoulders, was theatrical on stage but a bit camera shy in interviews, was a nice guy, and had natural talent that nobody else could come close to.

  • Mohammed F. Ifticardeen on July 21, 2010, 6:57 GMT

    One hell of an article. Nice read and nice way to salute the great-one :) thanks Andy!

  • nisarg dave on July 21, 2010, 7:07 GMT

    Hi Andy,

    The third player mentioned by you, to take 50+ wickets under an avg of 30 during 2000s, Greame Swann is wrong. Anil Kumble has taken 619 @ 29.65 and Swann has 91 @30.02!

    Hows that?

    Regards,

    Nisarg Dave

  • Ishan Ranaweera on July 21, 2010, 7:13 GMT

    hahahah what an article! its as good as any article I ve seen about Murali in the last few days! well done!

  • Steve on July 21, 2010, 7:19 GMT

    One wonders what the impact a team would have had, had Warne and Murili been born in the same country. Batters would have welcomed facing Holding, Lilley, McGrath, Akram & Thompson.

    After many years playing, I always find it less disappointing being blasted out by an out and out quick rather than being made look like a fool against a quality slow bowler.

    A gentleman of the game and a true ambassador. Enjoy your retirement Murili as much as those who still play will enjoy your retirement :0)

  • Imran on July 21, 2010, 8:04 GMT

    Why did you say that he is the last man to take 800 wickets?

  • Sreenivas K R on July 21, 2010, 8:22 GMT

    Hats off to Murali. .. Nobody on this universe I think can beat this record of 800 wickets !! Through out his career Murali kept low profile and warne always respected Murali.

  • Kash on July 21, 2010, 8:36 GMT

    Murali is with out doubt the finest spin bowler in the history of the game and perhaps even the greatest bowler of all times. i think he is the don bradman of bowlers, i doubt any one will ever equal his achivements. he has set a benchmark like sir don did that will never be surpassed. good luck murali in whatever you choose to do after cricket!

  • Nalaka on July 21, 2010, 9:14 GMT

    I was there at the Oval in '98 and I was probably one of the large group “going noisily berserk”. And yes, it was a great day to be a cricket fan.

    Great article and thanks for reminding me of one my greatest sporting memories.