Cricketers pick their favourites

'He made offspin attacking again'

Part 11: Geoff Boycott on the impact Muttiah Muralitharan has had on slow bowling and on Sri Lankan cricket (00:00)

Producer: Ranjit Shinde

April 17, 2012


Muttiah Muralitharan

'He made offspin attacking again'

April 17, 2012

Muttiah Muralitharan in action, Sri Lanka v India, 3rd Test, PSS, Colombo, 4th day, August 11, 2008
Muttiah Muralitharan: a Sri Lankan icon © AFP

Murali has to go down as one of the great purveyors of the cricket ball. He has had an interesting career. He got lots of wickets with his offspin, his doosra, and the great thing is that he was the first person to really bowl the doosra and make it turn - surprised everybody. I don't think anybody before him really bowled the doosra accurately and with spin.

He spun the ball alarmingly both ways, caused problems for batsmen. He has had this freak arm action and this freak, almost double-jointed, wrist, which has been difficult for people to pick.

I have always felt that he threw the ball - I am not saying that to cause problems, because it was proved that he did eventually… when he went to Western Australia, to the university there, but it was also proved that… the biomechanical men say that a lot of bowlers bend their elbows and straighten it a little bit. So I am afraid that publicity over that is always going to follow his career.

He is a lovely man. He has been great for the game because he has invented this new thing, the doosra, which has helped offspinners come back into the game. It was getting to the point where on these covered pitches, flat-batting pitches, where it didn't turn much like the olden covered pitches, the offspinner was tending to fade out of the game. He was becoming either a defensive bowler, just blocking up an end, rather than an attacking bowler.

But now, through bowling the doosra, offspinners are able to pass the bat, both sides of the bat. They have become more dangerous and attacking. Harbhajan bowls it, and a number of other people around the world. So Murali created that. Which has been good for the game, because you don't want to lose any type of bowling - left-arm spin, legspin, offspin. You want all varieties to be able to play cricket.

He, more than anybody else, has been responsible for the uplift in Sri Lankan cricket. Yes, they have had other good cricketers, batsmen and bowlers, but he more than anybody. Without him being the major wicket-taker… huge amounts of wickets that he has taken in one-day cricket and in Test cricket, he has been their major match-winner. He has been the iconic figure of Sri Lankan cricket. And he, more than anybody, has lifted them up to a status which is at level with other great countries in world cricket. And they have been able to stay there. I think what he has done for Sri Lankan cricket, more than the wickets that he has taken, is that he has lifted them up. So when he has retired and gone, I think other cricketers will be able to keep the country up there as one of the best in the world.

Posted by BurningBright on (April 18, 2012, 13:26 GMT)

At all the Saqlain supporters, You guys are absolutely right, Saqlain did invent the doosra BUT his doosra very rarely turned the other way appreciably (except maybe the one against Damien Martyn and a handful of others).. I think thats wat Geoff is saying here, Murali was the first person to SPIN the doosra the other way appreciably, almost like a leg break..

Posted by Philip_Gnana on (April 18, 2012, 11:39 GMT)

It just tells you how out of touch Boycott is. Murali learnt the doosra from Saqlain and Saqi was extremely good at it. Boycott is a bit coy about the "chucking" rule that the other great bowlers have benefited. The rules were changed so that McGrath and Pollock along with the rest could continue bowling. Cricinfo has a write up on this that exonerate Murali and states the reasons for the change which Mr Boycott does not want to accept. Murali never hid his bent arm under long sleeved shirts either as some other spinners still do. His major wicket taking was with his stock delivery which was under the 5 degree tolerance. Murali is the greatest spin bowler in the history of cricket and that is the fact supported by figures. Murali sure did make Sri Lanka a fighting force and virtually was a one man bowling band. You cannot win matches if you cannot score or take wickets. The genial nature of Murali and the bullying that he has been subject is not cricket Mr Boycott. Philip Gnana, Surrey

Posted by naz139 on (April 18, 2012, 10:15 GMT)

Doosra was invented and perfected by Saqlain with a clean action...others followed saqlain

Posted by RITESHBM on (April 18, 2012, 3:03 GMT)

I think Mr. Boycott has got it wrong. It is unfair to saqlan mushtag as he is the inventor of the doosra. Murali has himself openly admitted that saqlain started the doosra. also muralitharan was more lethal due to the amount of turn he got and also the flight and the trajectory he had

Posted by   on (April 17, 2012, 19:16 GMT)

What about 45 avg. in India? it is worse than Warne's 43. Srilankans give excuses about pitches but Murali got outbowled by Harbhajan in those. lol. At home Murali feasted on a severely depleted Indian team in 2001 (Vaas,Fernando were better then)and was a secod fiddle to Mendis in 2008.Saqlain was far better than both. Erapalli Prasanna was also an attacking spinner who Boycott faced.

Posted by mansoor123 on (April 17, 2012, 16:35 GMT)

get your history straight sir, doosra was not "created" or Invented by you what the word doosra even means. For your information it is Urdu word means "second" or other one invented by saqlain mushtaq and bowl against the aussies in Australia, go and ask ian s not good take credit away for saqi

Posted by shahabrandhawa on (April 17, 2012, 15:50 GMT)

No pakistani bowler in geoffery's X1????

Posted by   on (April 17, 2012, 15:14 GMT)

Geoff Boycott out of all people should know that, Saqlain was the pioneer of the Doosra, and also the fact that a Doosra that spins less is more likely to take the edge than one that spins more. No credit taken away from Murali, another brilliant bowler of the Doosra, more wickets to his name bowling it. Both had equal part in reviving the art of finger spin.

Posted by Balumekka on (April 17, 2012, 10:26 GMT)

Murali is the greatest wicket taker in the game and also the most ill treated cricketer. It was unfortunate that he played for Sri Lanka. His record is practically untouchable. Taking 5 wickets in a test innings is a dream for a test bowler and Murali has passed that 67 times (next best 37 by Warne) and taken 10 wickets in a match 22 times (next best 10 by warne) . Had he played for England or Australia, his action wouldn't have been questioned and will be duly treated. It is so unfair that people often use terms like 'controversial' and 'debatable' when describing Murali even after repeated clearance of his action by the ICC and with ample of biomechanical evidences to prove that he has congenitally abnormal wrist and elbow.

Comments have now been closed for this article

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