July 23, 2010

Nobody could have done it better

Murali was top of the world on the field and classy off it
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Years from now, it will become one of those where-were-you questions. There must be thousands of Indians who remember what they were doing when Sunil Gavaskar late-cut Ijaz Faqih at the Motera Stadium, just as legions of Pakistanis will recall the moment Ramiz Raja stared at the Melbourne sky and positioned himself under a skier from Richard Illingworth. Sri Lankans already have one such moment, at the Gaddafi Stadium in 1996, but this one ranks right up there. The perfect exit for the country's greatest cricketer. Even the denouement was appropriate - c M Jayawardene, b M Muralitharan for the 77th and final time.

A couple of years ago, at a function at the Tamil Union Club in Colombo, Chandra Schaffter spoke to some of us at length about its history and the role it had played in Sri Lanka's cricket. From Sir Donald Bradman's visit in 1948, through innumerable brilliant innings played by Mahadevan Sathasivam, to the riots of 1983, there was little that Schaffter's memory didn't dredge up. After evoking yesteryear's greats, he said: "Then, of course, in the early 1990s, Murali came down from Kandy." He didn't need to say more.

The modern history of Sri Lankan cricket is merely an extension of Murali's career. Aravinda de Silva's class and Arjuna Ranatunga's pugnaciousness were in evidence in the '90s, and Sanath Jayasuriya's devastating hitting illuminated a decade from '96. Chaminda Vaas was Tonto to Murali's Lone Ranger for most of his career, while Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara carried forward the flame of a batting tradition that dates back to Sathasivam and Fredrick de Saram. But while others came and went, Murali was the constant, the heart of a team that had found its place and voice in world cricket.

Murali may leave behind records that will never be broken, but he was never selfish. Time after time, he bowled himself into the ground for the team cause, and it was perhaps fitting that the final furlong to 800 was the hardest. In the first innings he needed just 102 deliveries for five wickets. The three in the second required 44.4 overs.

When VVS Laxman was run out, leaving India nine down and many in the crowd on tenterhooks, Murali merely smiled and celebrated with the other fielders. A lesser man would have been a bundle of nerve fibres, but Murali looked as calm as someone who knew that nothing could come between him and his destiny.

From the painfully shy hill-country boy who used to beg his captain to take him off so that he wouldn't have to front up to journalists' microphones if he took a bunch of wickets, to a chatty senior statesman with a wicked sense of humour, Murali's journey has been nothing short of remarkable. In Test cricket alone, he bowled 44,039 deliveries, more than twice as many as Bishan Singh Bedi, the most prolific of India's famous spin quartet from the 1960s and '70s.

For nearly two decades, Murali was Sri Lanka's Learie Constantine, the prime factor in his nation wresting respect from a grudging world

When he wasn't harvesting wickets by the bushel, Murali was dodging the critics' darts. Those that hold him responsible for legitimising "illegal" actions - Bedi among them - miss a very important point. The laws were not changed to accommodate Murali, they had to be tweaked because the research done on his action revealed that even those with "clean" actions straightened their arms more than 10 degrees.

Then there were the jibes about wickets against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, as though it was Murali's fault that the Future Tours Programme is a joke that denies Sri Lanka and several other teams a level playing field. Was it his deformed elbow that ensured he never toured South Africa after December 2002? Or the suppleness of his wrists that was responsible for Sri Lanka never playing a Test at the spin-friendly SCG?

A lesser man would have lashed out far more often. It's to his eternal credit that Murali rarely bothered to respond to the barbs. At the post-match presentation in Galle, he had another opportunity, when Tony Greig mentioned the umpires who had no-balled him all those years ago. Murali responding by talking of the naked eye, and them having to "do a job". If only those that belittle him had that kind of class.

My favourite Murali memory will be of an evening a few years ago. Feeling peckish before an interview, he had room service at the Taj Samudra in Colombo. When the food - simple fare of rice and dhal - was laid out on the table, the bearer gave him the bill. Murali grimaced looking at it. "650 rupees for dhal? It's made of gold or what?"

As the bearer stared at the floor uncomfortably, Murali smiled and exchanged a few pleasantries. You could see the man's mood change. By the time he left the room with the tray, his chest was puffed out and you could be sure that his colleagues would have had to endure multiple retellings of the evening Murali spoke to him.

Treasure the 800 wickets, but remember, too, the 1024 houses he built for those whose lives were devastated by the tsunami. They say more about the man than his athletic achievements ever will. Also recall the joy with which he played the game, the childlike delight that accompanied each plotted dismissal, the skip and jump into a team-mate's arms.

Neville Cardus once said of Learie Constantine: "When Constantine plays the whole man plays, not just the professional cricketer part of him. There is nothing in the world for him when he bats, save a ball to be hit -- and a boundary to be hit over. When he bowls, the world is three wickets, there to be sent spinning gloriously. Cricket, indeed, is Constantine's element; to say that he plays cricket, or takes part in it, is to say that a fish goes swimming. Constantine is cricket, West Indian cricket..."

For nearly two decades, Murali was Sri Lanka's Constantine, the prime factor in his nation wresting respect from a grudging world. There are a few more one-day scalps to claim and Twenty20 batsmen to embarrass. But for now he can put his feet up and contemplate a job that no one could have done better. Top of the world on the field, and a different class off it. Truly one of a kind.

Dileep Premachandran is an associate editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on July 26, 2010, 23:49 GMT

    I think the opinions expressed here prove my original post - that the 800 wickets is a tainted record and will never be fully accepted across the cricketing world. Also it is across the racial divide with Bedi also being critical. The genuine world record belongs to Warne - that is agreed on by all cricket lovers. By the way, Tony Lock was called several times for chucking and it was after he saw himself on film on a tour of NZ that he decided to modify his action - especially his faster ball.

    In my view it is up to those involved a junior levels to weed out the chuckers. The Murali dispute has proved that once it reaches the test arena it is too late - there are too many other issues that get involved which cloud judgments - it becomes more a political decision making process rather than a sporting one and it is detrimental to the overall game.

    Clearly there are those who will never accept that Murali was a chucker. Equally, there are many who will always think that he was. Pity.

  • Gevelsis on July 26, 2010, 22:35 GMT

    Murali has been pure magic to watch - @ McGorium: the more hot air you waste, the more obvious is your lack of appreciation of something wonderful & unique. In the boring verbosity stakes, you outdo even Roebuck- Congratulations!

  • Percy_Fender on July 26, 2010, 13:30 GMT

    I wish Billy CC would read what I believed was a wonderful article on the then recently introduced Flexion ammendment to the rules. That article brings out that the change in the rule was not brought out to legitimise Murali and Shoaib. It was to ensure that the Lees and the Magraths would'nt get tarred with the same brush. Mgrath was a great bowler but I will have to accept that he was so because of the Flexion ammendment. Lee, much as we love him also threw and everyone who saw him bowl did not need to see him in a laboratory to arrive at a judgement on this.The other thing is that I find it quite disgraceful that Australian people and media were only divided when Mgrath abused Sarwan in the vilest language during a Test match. He actually used language which most right minded people found disgusting.I wonder if that kind of language is common place in Australia.Mgrath went on in the same manner till he retired. The media could have brought about a change in him by admonishing him.

  • Percy_Fender on July 26, 2010, 10:54 GMT

    Billy CC the fact that Australians could even be divided over whether Magrath was right or wrong in behaving in the manner he did alone would show what causes such cheap behaviour to surface in cricket. It should have been condemned in the strongest terms. This was not sledging in any manner of interpretation.I just want people in Australia to realise that this is not Nationalism. Magrath behaved the same till he retired. So what good did this divided opinion do.

  • Supun679 on July 26, 2010, 10:01 GMT

    http://www.cricinfo.com/ci/content/story/136043.html It makes a good point: Murali's stock balls don't need the 15 degrees, and even his doosra was under 10 degrees. On the other hand, great pace bowlers such McGrath straightened their arm by over 10 degrees during 'normal' deliveries. The rule wasn;t changed for Murali: Murali's case and the subsequent testing of other bowlers made it obvious it had to be changed for EVERYONE.

  • on July 26, 2010, 5:58 GMT

    I respect murali for his humility . But in my opinion he is not as great as shane warne because of his bowling action controversies. ICC should be blamed for all this , player like malinga should be banned from cricket and strict rules should be followed to ban chuckers .

  • McGorium on July 26, 2010, 0:35 GMT

    (contd): Hair could have taken the matter up with the referee, who could have investigated tapes and found instances of ball tampering, if any. Instead, he decided to be the judge, jury and executioner.Calling someone for chucking or ball tampering isn't the same as giving someone out LBW or no-balling someone for overstepping. You're casting aspersions on their integrity, and it needs to be dealt with with due process and representation.Your accusation about chucking in a crisis can be applied to *any* bowler.However, in the absence of data (not opinion),you can't do anything. My only issue with the Murali saga is the arbitrary choice of 15 degree limit. There seemed to be no process followed and there should have been.As I mentioned in an earlier post, this limit could've been determined based on statistical analysis of all bowler actions. Say 95 percentile is the limit.If Murali is an outlier, ban his doosra.Then,the burden to remodel and prove legality of his action is Murali's.

  • McGorium on July 26, 2010, 0:20 GMT

    @reynard: While I agree with the idea that increasing the bent-arm limit to 15 deg to accommodate Murali's action was arbitrary and without due process, I have to disagree with your post. Appearances are deceptive; there's no shortage of optical illusions and I invite you to put the powers of Google to good use on this aspect. The burden of proof re. Murali's bent arm was always with the prosecution (i.e. the umps, and/or the ICC). Just because it was permanently bent was no reason to automatically assume that he chucked. The prosecution conducted a controlled experiment, as you say, and found that the action was legal. If you allege that he exceeded these limits in a match, it is incumbent on you to prove that he did (not say that it appeared that way). It is it not a blatant throw (I've never seen Murali do that), the benefit of doubt must go to the player. Hair made the same mistake with Pak when he alleged ball tampering without being able to back it up with evidence (continued)

  • BillyCC on July 25, 2010, 23:47 GMT

    Majr, once again your conspiracy theories show how little you know about what really happens in the cricketing world. The Australian media and public was divided over the McGrath-Sarwan issue; there was no quick forgiveness for McGrath over the incident. I wouldn't be surprised if you actually think McGrath, Lee and Lock all chuck because your theories make you very unreasonable and illogical.

  • McGorium on July 25, 2010, 22:56 GMT

    @BillyCC: "No amount of facts or science can ever make me believe that he "chucked" any of the 30000 odd deliveries he bowled". Really? It's like one of those Bush things, is it? Iraq has WMDs because I say so? Or,those fundamentalists who believe that the earth is 6000 years old, humans & dinosaurs co-existed, and carbon dating is the work of the devil? The facts (something that is demonstrable and repeatable by anyone. As opposed to dogma), as far as we are given to understand, is that McGrath had a kink of 11 deg, over the then permissible 10 deg. Now, given the fact that all bowlers have a kink in their arm, the scientific process is to measure all first-class bowlers, and statistically pick a limit (say 95 percentile (2 std. dev) is the limit).This wasn't done; instead an arbitrary 15 deg was chosen, which conveniently absolved Murali of any illegality re. his doosra. If his doosra was an outlier in the statistical analysis, it would be illegal. At least the process is scientific.

  • on July 26, 2010, 23:49 GMT

    I think the opinions expressed here prove my original post - that the 800 wickets is a tainted record and will never be fully accepted across the cricketing world. Also it is across the racial divide with Bedi also being critical. The genuine world record belongs to Warne - that is agreed on by all cricket lovers. By the way, Tony Lock was called several times for chucking and it was after he saw himself on film on a tour of NZ that he decided to modify his action - especially his faster ball.

    In my view it is up to those involved a junior levels to weed out the chuckers. The Murali dispute has proved that once it reaches the test arena it is too late - there are too many other issues that get involved which cloud judgments - it becomes more a political decision making process rather than a sporting one and it is detrimental to the overall game.

    Clearly there are those who will never accept that Murali was a chucker. Equally, there are many who will always think that he was. Pity.

  • Gevelsis on July 26, 2010, 22:35 GMT

    Murali has been pure magic to watch - @ McGorium: the more hot air you waste, the more obvious is your lack of appreciation of something wonderful & unique. In the boring verbosity stakes, you outdo even Roebuck- Congratulations!

  • Percy_Fender on July 26, 2010, 13:30 GMT

    I wish Billy CC would read what I believed was a wonderful article on the then recently introduced Flexion ammendment to the rules. That article brings out that the change in the rule was not brought out to legitimise Murali and Shoaib. It was to ensure that the Lees and the Magraths would'nt get tarred with the same brush. Mgrath was a great bowler but I will have to accept that he was so because of the Flexion ammendment. Lee, much as we love him also threw and everyone who saw him bowl did not need to see him in a laboratory to arrive at a judgement on this.The other thing is that I find it quite disgraceful that Australian people and media were only divided when Mgrath abused Sarwan in the vilest language during a Test match. He actually used language which most right minded people found disgusting.I wonder if that kind of language is common place in Australia.Mgrath went on in the same manner till he retired. The media could have brought about a change in him by admonishing him.

  • Percy_Fender on July 26, 2010, 10:54 GMT

    Billy CC the fact that Australians could even be divided over whether Magrath was right or wrong in behaving in the manner he did alone would show what causes such cheap behaviour to surface in cricket. It should have been condemned in the strongest terms. This was not sledging in any manner of interpretation.I just want people in Australia to realise that this is not Nationalism. Magrath behaved the same till he retired. So what good did this divided opinion do.

  • Supun679 on July 26, 2010, 10:01 GMT

    http://www.cricinfo.com/ci/content/story/136043.html It makes a good point: Murali's stock balls don't need the 15 degrees, and even his doosra was under 10 degrees. On the other hand, great pace bowlers such McGrath straightened their arm by over 10 degrees during 'normal' deliveries. The rule wasn;t changed for Murali: Murali's case and the subsequent testing of other bowlers made it obvious it had to be changed for EVERYONE.

  • on July 26, 2010, 5:58 GMT

    I respect murali for his humility . But in my opinion he is not as great as shane warne because of his bowling action controversies. ICC should be blamed for all this , player like malinga should be banned from cricket and strict rules should be followed to ban chuckers .

  • McGorium on July 26, 2010, 0:35 GMT

    (contd): Hair could have taken the matter up with the referee, who could have investigated tapes and found instances of ball tampering, if any. Instead, he decided to be the judge, jury and executioner.Calling someone for chucking or ball tampering isn't the same as giving someone out LBW or no-balling someone for overstepping. You're casting aspersions on their integrity, and it needs to be dealt with with due process and representation.Your accusation about chucking in a crisis can be applied to *any* bowler.However, in the absence of data (not opinion),you can't do anything. My only issue with the Murali saga is the arbitrary choice of 15 degree limit. There seemed to be no process followed and there should have been.As I mentioned in an earlier post, this limit could've been determined based on statistical analysis of all bowler actions. Say 95 percentile is the limit.If Murali is an outlier, ban his doosra.Then,the burden to remodel and prove legality of his action is Murali's.

  • McGorium on July 26, 2010, 0:20 GMT

    @reynard: While I agree with the idea that increasing the bent-arm limit to 15 deg to accommodate Murali's action was arbitrary and without due process, I have to disagree with your post. Appearances are deceptive; there's no shortage of optical illusions and I invite you to put the powers of Google to good use on this aspect. The burden of proof re. Murali's bent arm was always with the prosecution (i.e. the umps, and/or the ICC). Just because it was permanently bent was no reason to automatically assume that he chucked. The prosecution conducted a controlled experiment, as you say, and found that the action was legal. If you allege that he exceeded these limits in a match, it is incumbent on you to prove that he did (not say that it appeared that way). It is it not a blatant throw (I've never seen Murali do that), the benefit of doubt must go to the player. Hair made the same mistake with Pak when he alleged ball tampering without being able to back it up with evidence (continued)

  • BillyCC on July 25, 2010, 23:47 GMT

    Majr, once again your conspiracy theories show how little you know about what really happens in the cricketing world. The Australian media and public was divided over the McGrath-Sarwan issue; there was no quick forgiveness for McGrath over the incident. I wouldn't be surprised if you actually think McGrath, Lee and Lock all chuck because your theories make you very unreasonable and illogical.

  • McGorium on July 25, 2010, 22:56 GMT

    @BillyCC: "No amount of facts or science can ever make me believe that he "chucked" any of the 30000 odd deliveries he bowled". Really? It's like one of those Bush things, is it? Iraq has WMDs because I say so? Or,those fundamentalists who believe that the earth is 6000 years old, humans & dinosaurs co-existed, and carbon dating is the work of the devil? The facts (something that is demonstrable and repeatable by anyone. As opposed to dogma), as far as we are given to understand, is that McGrath had a kink of 11 deg, over the then permissible 10 deg. Now, given the fact that all bowlers have a kink in their arm, the scientific process is to measure all first-class bowlers, and statistically pick a limit (say 95 percentile (2 std. dev) is the limit).This wasn't done; instead an arbitrary 15 deg was chosen, which conveniently absolved Murali of any illegality re. his doosra. If his doosra was an outlier in the statistical analysis, it would be illegal. At least the process is scientific.

  • Percy_Fender on July 25, 2010, 11:21 GMT

    All this talk of the genuinesess of Murali's action is very churlish. The fact of the matter is that with the revision of the rules, there was no question that Murali bowled with an action well envisaged under the rules. This business of suspect actions started in the 60s with Meckiff and Giffen I think. After that there was nothing much heard about chuckers except perhaps Jasu Patel who they said chucked the ball. Then there was Bartlett from New Zealand. I recall Abid Ali imitating him in a Test match because the umpire just would'nt call him for throwing even if it was so obvious. The point I wish to make is that many bowlers like Magrath, Lee and Lock have got away with chucking because they hailed from a country which called the shots in the ICC at the relevant point in time.This business of finding fault with someone born with a deformity causing his action to look suspect is reprehensible. This is no different to forgiving Magrath when he abuses Sarwan in a Test match.

  • reynard on July 25, 2010, 9:53 GMT

    Up until Murali the umpires on the field had the power to make the judgment about chucking. Several bowlers were called. It's not as if Murali was the first. But he was the first to receive politico/racial defense. The Sri Lankans played the race card. Power was taken away from the umpires - who had called him (and quite rightly) - and given to scientist in a controlled experimental situation. Ask yourself, what would you do? You get wired up, have cameras looking at you from every angle. Are you going to bowl as you would on the last day of a test on a turning wicket with the opposition needing 250 to win? Hardly. You are going to bowl at three-quarter throttle, perhaps not even that accurately, and certainly not put 100% into those deliveries you know are suspect.

    Murali threw. Cricket - that great game for records - is tainted. Nothing anyone says or writes will change that. The decision to let Murali play was and is a blight on the game.

  • Anthony_A on July 24, 2010, 19:11 GMT

    Billy_CC you are right I don't believe Mcgrath chucked the ball, bit his name was on the ICC study that highlighted bowlers (including a host of other contemporary greats) that flex their elbow more than 10 degrees at the point of delivery. Now a 10 degree flex is impossible to detect to the naked eye. Hence the only way out was to change the rules. NOT just to accomodate Muali's doosra which had a 12 degree flex.

    SurlyCinic, I too was a skeptic of his action for a while but I took the time to study the scientific evidence. I don't know which recording you have seen coz he was tested about a million times over the years, but I had a looked at quite a few tapes and there was no such difference. He was tested at 300 frames per second.

    To those that say he bowls differently in labs than in matches - that argument can be applied to all bowlers. The issue was is there a structural flaw in his action. A number of "legitimate" bowlers flex more when bolwing faster deliveries etc..

  • Supun679 on July 24, 2010, 9:58 GMT

    Lets set things straight: after vigorous testing, Murali's action was deemed clean. To clarify: i'm not stating an OPINION here, i'm stating FACT and no amount of OPINION can change FACT. Not only that, Wisden, Don Bradman, and even Warne admitted his action was clean. While some 'true' cricket lovers may think they know better than the ruling body of cricket and some of the best bowlers and batsmen of the game -some of which would have seen Murali bowling under normal test conditions- the real lovers of the game would realise that no amount of hatred can disguise the uncommon talent and generous personality of Muralitharan.

  • CricketLoversRuleTheWorld on July 24, 2010, 9:29 GMT

    We Indians always dared him the most .. But he is the one we love to see the most.. g8 cricketer .. g8 human being.. we miss u murli !!!

  • reynard on July 24, 2010, 7:45 GMT

    Had junior umpire, coaches and managers shown more courage, Murali would not even have made it to test cricket. Lovely person he his but he is also a thrower - nothing will ever change that - no matter how many words are written. The 800 wickets is a tainted record that true cricket lovers will never accept. Not every ball is thrown - he's not that obvious - and he made sure that when he was tested he was OK - but there are many batsmen who know that the quicker one and the "doosra" were not legitimate deliveries. How many did he take in an orthodox manner?

  • STres on July 24, 2010, 5:30 GMT

    Well written Dileep, a great tribute to a great Asian, I have always said this - He is born Sri Lankan but belongs to all of Asia, we as SL should not grudge our Asian brothers of being proud of him. His humility, Honesty, Compassion for his accusers, and Love for his fellow less fortunate brothern are Asian traits that all Pakistanis, Indians , Bangladeshis, Nepalese have in common, thats what make us different from others, it may be considered our weakness when compared to the "win at all costs" attitude of our colourless earthlings. But I rather be weak and loose that give up our great Asian culture dating back to many many thousand years

  • on July 24, 2010, 5:08 GMT

    Murali taking unprecedented 800 tests wickets, that's a huge achievement every bowler can only dream of. But the fact i always loved about Murali is the way he stood up against the criticisms, hitting him from every direction, but he stood firm like the Himalayas. And his humanitarian efforts are also to be taken in account. A true human being. modest but great. A great cricketer of all time. Murali you are one of the favourite cricketers of all time here in my country, Nepal. Hats of to you. Subeg Nepal

  • on July 24, 2010, 4:28 GMT

    @SurlyCynic don''t crib..I know people from which countries would be feeling like you..nobody cares whether the laws were changed for murali or for somebody else(read the 'great' Aussie bowlers)..nobody cares if somebody achieves 800 wickets in tests(if at all).. Murali remains a true legend..We will miss his wide open eyes , the single finger appeal and the terrific smile.. This is best article I have read about Murali..Thanks Deleep..

  • BillyCC on July 24, 2010, 1:43 GMT

    Why are people suddenly bringing Glenn McGrath into this piece on Murali? No amount of facts or science can ever make me believe that he "chucked" any of the 30000 odd deliveries he bowled. And in fact, I'm sure absolutely no one believes he does either including Anthony_A and Nuxxy. All they see is a convenient excuse to bring up a bowler with an unquestionably clean action and use him to argue the case for Murali.

  • on July 23, 2010, 21:13 GMT

    very good reason i fully agree with sangakara.india just started to win abroad in last 2/3 years.Before they were underdog for overseas.Still they dont beat high ranking team in world in their home condition.So I believe its not fair to judge that their the 1st ranking team in the world.ICC should some change to their system in ranking.

  • tv_rulez on July 23, 2010, 18:56 GMT

    Excellent article! It was very touching as others mentioned.

  • SurlyCynic on July 23, 2010, 18:29 GMT

    I have always admired Murali, as a person and a cricketer. I think the way he has handled the criticism and the pressure has been amazing and he shames many modern sportsmen with his charity work.

    I've always argued his side against my friends, many of whom believed him to be a 'chucker'. But after all the arguments over his action being 'cleared' and the new ICC rules, I was shown footage of him bowling in the ICC tests. I was shocked. It looked like a different bowler, hardly giving the ball a rip and clearly trying not to bend his arm.

    I still admire him and respect his achievements, but unfortunately I now believe that his big-spinning deliveries and particularly his doosra were illegal. And I have no faith in the ICC's process, as anyone tested in this way will clearly do their best not to bend their arm. Unfortunately the only true check is in an actual test, whether by slo-mo camera or the naked eye. Sorry Murali and his supporters, but look at the footage.

  • RanjitW on July 23, 2010, 14:37 GMT

    Dileep, this is really a well suited write up for a legendary cricketer. Well done and thanks as a sri lankan.

  • toysoldier72 on July 23, 2010, 13:35 GMT

    This is an excellent article which answers all the crticisms leveid by Murali's detractors.Cricinfo should give more prominence to it in it's homepage so that all those detractors can read it and realise that they don't have a case to argue anymore. Hats off to you Dileep! Yes, leg spin is a more difficult art to master but to revolutionise off spin with his wrist spining action amidst all the controversies & detractions,be at the top for such a long time and be the first to capture 800 wickets...if all these achievements don't make Murali the best bowler ever.....tell me what will? Atleast let the champion enjoy his hard earned retirement in peace.

  • KaZsa on July 23, 2010, 13:13 GMT

    A great article....I particularly like the comparison to Constantine...SL side may not be as lethal as windies in the 70s'.But they truly have that uniqueness in the cricketers they produce and adds different flavor to the game of cricket.You hardly find two similar kind of cricketers yet they marvel in their own way...May be its the island effect after all....

  • NISH67 on July 23, 2010, 11:46 GMT

    A great article - a real tribute to a cricketing colossus of our generation , not the patronizing stuff you get on most forums . Excellent Dileep - a tear jerker for murali fans !

  • kapzter on July 23, 2010, 10:36 GMT

    an absolutely well written tribute. brought me to the verge of tears. A great man, a gentleman in every sense of the word and a true champion.He is the best there was, the best there is and the best there ever will be.

  • rkannancrown on July 23, 2010, 9:13 GMT

    Fine tribute to an outstanding cricketeer. More than Murali the cricketeer, what needs to be remembered is the great human being. Subject to taunts galore, he overcame a lot to become one of cricket's greatest legends. It is also good that you recorded the fact of the rules being tweaked to help others, especially McGrath & Lee - not Murali.

  • WajiraB on July 23, 2010, 9:13 GMT

    very well said. the facts of law changes were written very well and all the nuts who tell that rule was changed to support mulari should read this and know the real reason.

    great article to a great champion

  • TheUglyTruth on July 23, 2010, 8:46 GMT

    Excellent article. Thoroughly enjoyed reading it not just because it was well composed and written but more for the truth and warmth it brings out. Wish i could say the same for the articles written by Gideon Haigh whos harping on the same tune upto the point of driving everyone crazy. Ah well! Look forward to your articles atleast Dileep. After all the hardships Murali went through...getting to 800 almost seemed like destiny. Being a huge fan of Murali, even i was skeptical at the start of the test as to whether he would get 8 wickets. But when i saw his offspinner that got Dhoni out, i knew he was gonna get it! He gave this test his all and reminded us of the Murali who demolished sides over the years. Mind is willing but the body is weak...age is something we all have to face. Perfect time for retirement and a reminder that sometimes, there is poetic justice in this world after all!

  • phoenikhs on July 23, 2010, 8:42 GMT

    How sad is it for 'lesser' people to question his action. I would challenge anyone, to bend his arm as much as he likes, and repeat the feat.

  • HongKongSam on July 23, 2010, 8:10 GMT

    Beautifully written and tears came to my eyes. Thank you Murali for entertaining all of us and wishing you all the very best.

  • Nuxxy on July 23, 2010, 7:55 GMT

    Many people complain now that the trowing rule is 'unenforceable' because there is no way for an umpire to accurately judge 15 degrees. What they miss is that it was always unenforceable. Darryl Hair, the self-righteous ass, was in the right to call Murali according to the rules of the day. But he was wrong more often for missing all the other bowlers (including McGrath) who were illegal by the same laws that damned Murali. No one expects umpire to be perfect and get everything right. We do expect them to be consistent.

  • on July 23, 2010, 7:42 GMT

    Dileep, Murali was also a prime mover in uniting the Tamil & Sinhalese communities at least when the Sri Lankan team was playing. He has been the balm that has soothing the bitterness of the last 27 years of ethnic conflict. Do not be surprised if he bowls a political doosra very soon much like Sanath

  • Charindra on July 23, 2010, 7:24 GMT

    Fantastic tribute Dileep. He was the greatest bowler ever to step onto a cricket field, but his real greatness lay in the fact that if a man who had never seen him play met him for the first time, he'd never guess.

  • Shashi.55 on July 23, 2010, 6:40 GMT

    Great write up on this genial genius ! I am a die-hard Indian cricket fan. But on the last day of the Test match, I was praying that Murali gets his 800th wicket. I am absolutely delighted that he did it. Farewell to this gentleman cricketer who brought so much joy and thrill to the game. Murali, we will dearly miss you !

  • vibh_ch on July 23, 2010, 6:33 GMT

    We say statistics do not matter,but what else can be accounted for to make a cricketer the greatest.When it comes to pure all-round cricketing abilities,no one ccomes closer to Sobers.When it comes to prolific batting,it just belongs to the Don.There have been far too many fast bowlers to make a claim for the honour of the greatest.But to be frank,when it comes to the greatest wholesome cricketer ever,I don' think Murali can be superseded.He is the greatest match-winner that Sri Lanka has seen,he brought the most joy when he played,he is the only one who could have overcome all the wrong allegations that could be made against any man,his charitable work is unmatched.He is an indomitable spirit.Lets not crib about Bradman,Sachin(Indians),or someone else as being the greatest to have played the game.It clearly is Muttaiah Muralitharan.And I'm no Lankan.

  • on July 23, 2010, 4:52 GMT

    A poignant, wonderfully articulated tribute to a great human being and role model. I too was once uncertain about the legality of his action, but after all the irrefutable scientific evidence made available after the tests, only an ill-informed, jealous and / or delusional fool would argue about the legitimacy of his action. To argue that he chucks is to argue the world is flat because it seems so. Thank you Murali for all you've done for Sri Lanka and above all, showing us how handwork, humility, honesty and a smile can still bring true greatness through trying adversities.

  • Coxwaffle on July 23, 2010, 4:47 GMT

    A few years back, Sri Lanka began a tour of England with a game at my local ground, Fenners in Cambridge where the norm is for the away team to make the students chase leather for 2 days, before listlessly bowling them out for less than 150. My chum and I were massively excited to see the Lankan's and possibly Murali play. In the event, he didn't. But he was twelth man and bounded in from the boundary, bringing drinks and equipment for those out in the middle, like a junior member of the squad trying to impress the management - it was utterly genuine, and a wonderful example of a star showing that he wasn't bigger than the team. I always liked Murali. But after that day: I thought he was a credit to Sri Lanka and to the game in general.

  • HundredPercentBarcelonista on July 23, 2010, 4:35 GMT

    Anthony, Murali didn't have the doosra in his repertoire when he was first called.

  • 11Noobs on July 23, 2010, 4:14 GMT

    Why don't they call him god? He deserves it as much as Tendulkar does. What a career Murali. At least we'll still see him action as far as LO cricket is concerned.

  • CricFan78 on July 23, 2010, 3:56 GMT

    Brilliant article Dileep . Even though I am an Indian, Murali to me is at par with Sachin as greatest cricketer of modern era. He will be missed more than any bowler in my lifetime. I wish everyone in world could have personality like him. Thanks for all those 800 test wkts Murali, everyone of them was a gem.

  • Neelz on July 23, 2010, 2:48 GMT

    Nobody could have written it better. A great tribute to a great champion.

  • Anthony_A on July 23, 2010, 2:17 GMT

    Well said Dileep!! Best tribute to Murali I have read so far... and I have read more than 20 write ups on him over the last few days. I think you brought out an excellent point on the change in thebowling laws. Whilst people are entitled to their own opinions on Murali I have been amazed at the number of people that are ignorant about the facts.

    Too many people have said that the laws were changed to accomodate Murali's Doosra. As you point out this is factually incorrect. Whilst it was the investigation into the doosra that prompted the review, the laws were changed because it was found that a numberof reputed international bolwers; Glen Mcgrath and the likes also did not stick to with the confines of the 10 degree rule. The laws were changed to accomodate ALL these bowlers !!...The aussies would not have taken it kindly to banning Mcgrath !

  • on July 23, 2010, 2:01 GMT

    Definitely one of a kind. It's futile to even dream of finding another Murali for SL.

  • Mark00 on July 23, 2010, 1:58 GMT

    A wonderful, almost poetic, tribute to a matchless cricketer by one of the few journalists with the courage to explain the real reason why the ICC altered the rules on throwing.

  • ydacderaj on July 23, 2010, 1:38 GMT

    What a legend, its unfortunate that he was treated in such a way, but such is life

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  • ydacderaj on July 23, 2010, 1:38 GMT

    What a legend, its unfortunate that he was treated in such a way, but such is life

  • Mark00 on July 23, 2010, 1:58 GMT

    A wonderful, almost poetic, tribute to a matchless cricketer by one of the few journalists with the courage to explain the real reason why the ICC altered the rules on throwing.

  • on July 23, 2010, 2:01 GMT

    Definitely one of a kind. It's futile to even dream of finding another Murali for SL.

  • Anthony_A on July 23, 2010, 2:17 GMT

    Well said Dileep!! Best tribute to Murali I have read so far... and I have read more than 20 write ups on him over the last few days. I think you brought out an excellent point on the change in thebowling laws. Whilst people are entitled to their own opinions on Murali I have been amazed at the number of people that are ignorant about the facts.

    Too many people have said that the laws were changed to accomodate Murali's Doosra. As you point out this is factually incorrect. Whilst it was the investigation into the doosra that prompted the review, the laws were changed because it was found that a numberof reputed international bolwers; Glen Mcgrath and the likes also did not stick to with the confines of the 10 degree rule. The laws were changed to accomodate ALL these bowlers !!...The aussies would not have taken it kindly to banning Mcgrath !

  • Neelz on July 23, 2010, 2:48 GMT

    Nobody could have written it better. A great tribute to a great champion.

  • CricFan78 on July 23, 2010, 3:56 GMT

    Brilliant article Dileep . Even though I am an Indian, Murali to me is at par with Sachin as greatest cricketer of modern era. He will be missed more than any bowler in my lifetime. I wish everyone in world could have personality like him. Thanks for all those 800 test wkts Murali, everyone of them was a gem.

  • 11Noobs on July 23, 2010, 4:14 GMT

    Why don't they call him god? He deserves it as much as Tendulkar does. What a career Murali. At least we'll still see him action as far as LO cricket is concerned.

  • HundredPercentBarcelonista on July 23, 2010, 4:35 GMT

    Anthony, Murali didn't have the doosra in his repertoire when he was first called.

  • Coxwaffle on July 23, 2010, 4:47 GMT

    A few years back, Sri Lanka began a tour of England with a game at my local ground, Fenners in Cambridge where the norm is for the away team to make the students chase leather for 2 days, before listlessly bowling them out for less than 150. My chum and I were massively excited to see the Lankan's and possibly Murali play. In the event, he didn't. But he was twelth man and bounded in from the boundary, bringing drinks and equipment for those out in the middle, like a junior member of the squad trying to impress the management - it was utterly genuine, and a wonderful example of a star showing that he wasn't bigger than the team. I always liked Murali. But after that day: I thought he was a credit to Sri Lanka and to the game in general.

  • on July 23, 2010, 4:52 GMT

    A poignant, wonderfully articulated tribute to a great human being and role model. I too was once uncertain about the legality of his action, but after all the irrefutable scientific evidence made available after the tests, only an ill-informed, jealous and / or delusional fool would argue about the legitimacy of his action. To argue that he chucks is to argue the world is flat because it seems so. Thank you Murali for all you've done for Sri Lanka and above all, showing us how handwork, humility, honesty and a smile can still bring true greatness through trying adversities.