June 8, 2002

Gilly welcomes Murali


BRISBANE, June 8 AAP - Australian cricket vice-captain Adam Gilchrist has urged Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan to rethink reported plans to skip a tour of Australia later this year.

Gilchrist, reprimanded last month by the Australian Cricket Board for comments he made concerning Muralitharan's bowling action, said today he hoped the 400-Test wicket taker would not bypass Sri Lanka's one-day series in Australia later this year.

It's understood Muralitharan and the Sri Lanka management don't want the spinner to tour for fear of disruptions ahead of the World Cup which follows directly after the tri-series in Australia.

"That's a decision that he's got to make along his with support group but I'm sure the Australian team, the Australian Cricket Board and the cricket fans here would love to see him out here again and he'd be most welcome," Gilchrist said.

"He's a very exciting cricketer and a great bloke and I'd be very disappointed and feel sorry if he didn't come."

Muralitharan has been called twice for throwing in Australia - by umpire Darrell Hair in 1995 and by umpire Ross Emerson in 1998, with the second incident prompting then captain Arjuna Ranatunga to call his players from the field in protest.

Muralitharan's action has been cleared by the International Cricket Council. Gilchrist was reprimanded two weeks ago by the ACB for telling a Carlton Football Club luncheon that he thought Muralitharan was a chucker.

The Australian wicketkeeper was speaking today ahead of one-day series against Pakistan, which starts in Melbourne on Wednesday at Colonial Stadium.

But Gilchrist will not play in Australia's scheduled practice match against Queensland at Allan Border Field tomorrow after being given time off for a family engagement.

Queensland wicketkeeper Wade Seccombe will don the gloves for Australia.

Gilchrist said the three matches against Pakistan would form an important part of Australia's preparations for the World Cup in South Africa next year.

"It's major part of our build-up. We've got about 20 one-day games between now and the World Cup, give or take a few finals and the like, and so that's going to be the main event for us," he said.

Gilchrist, the world's No.1 ranked one-day batsman, said he and team management would continue to monitor his workload to ensure he was able to play at his peak, with the dual demands of batting and wicket-keeping putting a strain on his knees.

"I've had tendonitis in both knees for a while and it's something I have to keep on top of. I've seen a specialist in the past and he recommended that I not squat up and down for six months so that wasn't that helpful," he said.

"The cancellation of the Zimbabwe tour meant that I had more of break so I'm feeling pretty good but obviously looking at the schedule, there's a lot of cricket ahead and we'll be looking to manage that as best we can.

"I haven't sat down and worked out that I'm going to play this match or that match but obviously if our physio Errol Alcott recommends I have a break, then we might have to get someone in for a game.

"And it's not just about me - the workload issue is one for all of the players and the coach, the captain and the selectors will make any adjustments as we go along."