Snappy Q&As with the players

Murali Kartik

'Every time I go to the washroom I have a shower'

Don't go greeting Murali Kartik if you've just had a roll in the mud. And don't ask him what he did to be kept out of the Indian squad either

Interview by Nagraj Gollapudi

September 24, 2012

Comments: 25 | Text size: A | A

Murali Kartik during his spell of 4-0-24-0, Auckland v Somerset, CLT20 qualifier, Hyderabad, September 20, 2011
"Once, I refused to pick up my wife, who is from the north, after she went to the beauty parlour" © Associated Press
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Players/Officials: Murali Kartik
Teams: India

What is the story behind the beaded necklace you wear?
It is not a fashion statement. On our first wedding anniversary, me and my wife were given a beaded necklace each at an ISKCON [International Society for Krishna Consciousness] temple. We were told it is good for us and would help us stay calm. I am not sure if it is marriage or the necklace that has calmed me down, but it has definitely helped.

Tell us about your collection of sunglasses.
I have some 140 pairs. I am fond of sunglasses, and thankfully Oakleys started supporting my hobby. I have given some free to my Railways team-mates, as incentives for scoring hundreds. Even if they did not [make hundreds], I gave them their prizes.

Your team-mates say you're very fussy about cleanliness.
Every time I go to the washroom, I have a shower. Same with my equipment: each time I use anything, I clean it. I think my South Indian upbringing is behind this. Once, I refused to pick up my wife, who is from the north, after she went to the beauty parlour. I asked her to take an autorickshaw. In childhood, if we went to the barber shop, we were not allowed to touch anything in the house till we took a shower.

You seem to like to talk to batsmen and get under their skin. Has that ever backfired?
Once, Railways were playing in a crucial Ranji Trophy match against Rajasthan at Karnail Singh Stadium. We had made 240-odd, and since the first-innings lead was crucial, wickets were vital. Rajasthan were going smooth at 110-odd for 1. Rahul Kamat was getting out of the crease at the non-striker's end frequently. I warned him twice but he continued to walk out. I then mankaded him. He walked away quietly, but Gagan Khoda, Kamat's cousin, who was sitting outside, came up and burst out, saying I could be the best spinner in the country but things like this were why I was not playing for India. Then Kamat ran in from nowhere with a stump in his hand, saying sweet nothings…

What's the one question the media should stop asking you?
The one about who I upset in the hierarchy to not find a strong footing in the India squad.

The best compliment you've received from a fellow cricketer?
After my Test debut, Mr Kapil Dev said that in his 20 years in the game I was first guy with such a brilliant attitude. It was a moment to cherish.

"I have some 140 pairs of sunglasses"

Have you ever played in borrowed gear?
I did not have proper shoes on my Test debut. Sanjay Bangar lent me his spikes, and when I returned them he said I could keep them, since I had played my maiden Test in them.

What kind of batsman is the most difficult to bowl to?
The batsman who has the mentality and ability to hit the good balls out of the ground. Matthew Hayden, Virender Sehwag and Kevin Pietersen belong in that bracket.

What song would you like to be played at your funeral?
Phil Collins' "Another Day in Paradise".

Tell us a something we do not know about you.
I was always first in class till class nine, when I was sixth. My mother was not happy. I wanted to be a genetic engineer but ended up being a commerce graduate.

Middlesex pink or KKR purple?
I actually like the pink colour. I like the KKR black [from the first IPL season] more than the present purple.

Caught and bowled or lbw?
I like the ball going to slips. Also, if I can beat the batsman by making the ball turn off the pitch as he tries to defend before it moves to hit the off stump.

If you were an Under-19 cricketer today, what advice would you give to the teenage Murali Kartik?
Keep your mouth shut.

What do you do during rain delays?
I don't know what to do. I get bored easily. In county cricket, players go out on bicycle rides. I find that odd and funny.

Bishan Bedi has played a big role in your career. Do you have any stories involving him?
Once, many years ago, when Raj Singh Dungarpur was still alive, we were at the Cricket Club of India in Mumbai. There is this beautiful picture there of Bishan paaji side-arm, about to deliver the ball. In all our years of acquaintance he never blew his own horn. That day he just said: "Look at that photograph. How still is the head?" I replied saying "Paaji, it has to be still because it is a still photo." He took it in his stride, saying, "You will never change." He is one guy you can always argue with. He is a brilliant motivator.

What is the best cricket souvenir you have?
Hayden's shirt when he made the record 380.

If you wrote a book, what would the title be?
The Axe Effect.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by   on (September 26, 2012, 8:56 GMT)

MK is a great sport, excellent cricketer, and a great tamilian...

Posted by NizarBalanNizar on (September 26, 2012, 5:14 GMT)

Indian cricket would have been benefited more if Saurav Ganguly was not selected. MK is such a great cricketer.

Posted by   on (September 25, 2012, 19:25 GMT)

One of my favourite Indian cricketers of all time. Had he been English, he probably would've played a hundred Tests by now. Had he been more diplomatic in his dealings with Ganguly et al, he would've played at least 50 for India. In his recent stint as a summariser for Sky Sports, he was spellbinding: erudite, witty, eloquent & highly charismatic. As a broadcaster, he's in a different league to Shastri, Gavaskar, Sivaramakrishnan & Bhogle, on at least a par with Sanjay Manjrekar & better by far than all the English-based Sky commentators bar Michael Holding. If Sky or Star had any sense at all, they'd snap him up as a full-time commentator and/or summariser and/or analyst, but the likelihood, unfortunately, is that he'll be overlooked (just as he always has been on the pitch) in favour of a far less worthy & deserving 'Name'. Such is the curse of combining high intelligence with unwavering honesty.

Posted by   on (September 25, 2012, 15:41 GMT)

Awww. <3 Murali Karthick!! a truly classy spinner. I can't still understand, Y d Indian selectors are wasting such a talent? Whenever he was given a chance he used to perform. He was one of the most economical bowler of all formats where all others have failed bitterly.

Bad luck to him, he was kept out by selectors every time and unfortunately ojha is also facing the same thing!

Posted by   on (September 25, 2012, 4:23 GMT)

haha@axe effect. i think what cost him a place is that he wasnt even the little bit of a match winner and big match player that harbhajan singh was.

Posted by   on (September 25, 2012, 4:00 GMT)

the same shirt question is in my mind too...

Posted by   on (September 24, 2012, 20:58 GMT)

I really really want to know how the heck Kartik landed Hayden's 380 shirt.....

Posted by   on (September 24, 2012, 18:24 GMT)

Murali Karthik's International career was impacted by a man called Saurav Ganguly. Karthik's problem - Ganguly could hit left-arm spinners in his sleep. Ganguly therefore had no confidence in the left arm spinner's ability to get wickets (even when they were not bowling at Ganguly). Since Ganguly was then India captain, all we can say is tough luck Murali.

Posted by sk12 on (September 24, 2012, 16:58 GMT)

Favourite cricketer - Saurav Ganguly :)) Still remember the test matches in early 2000s when he wld be selected, but Saurav would bowl him after the part time spinners came on, and remove him after a couple of overs.. His high point was the win over Oz in Mumbai 2004.

Posted by Nampally on (September 24, 2012, 15:36 GMT)

Murali Kartik is easily one of the best T-20 spin bowlers. He would have greatly enhanced the weakest Indian bowling in the 2012 World cup T-20. He is consistent & a very brainy spinner who keeps the batsmen guessing all the time. He keeps changing the pace, spin & length with such precission that the batsmen do not know what is coming next. He is cast in the mould of great Vinoo Mankad & still brings's Vinoo's name to the forefront by "Mankading" the batsmen.What a shame that India failed to exploit Kartik's talent & grounded his career as early as when he was just 28, in 2004!. India was performing so poorly in the recent tour of England in 2011. Yet in the England county cricket Murali was consistently returning figures of 6 for --. India still did not recall him! Vinoo Mankad was similarly recalled in 1952 & he performed brilliantly in the Lords Test with 5 wkts & scoring 72 & 184 in 2 innings.Why was Kartik discarded will remain a mystery but it is a huge loss for team India !.

Posted by nandwani88 on (September 24, 2012, 15:12 GMT)

How the hell did he end up with Hayden's shirt?

Posted by InsideHedge on (September 24, 2012, 11:18 GMT)

Those who think Kartik would not have been an international success should pore over the figures of other Indian spin bowlers to ply their trade in county cricket, it's never easy for a spin bowler in England. Then, watch - if you're fortunate - the games between India and Australia where Kartik was running rings around Ponting et al. On a turning track, which is what he would have got in India, MK would have been a good asset for India. In fact, he still could be.

It's Sourav Ganguly who has a lot to answer, he even preferred Sunil Joshi for a while. In general, Ganguly avoided left arm spinners when the ability to take the ball away from aRH batsman is something India has lacked since the retirement of Kapil Dev.

Posted by FitzroyMarsupial on (September 24, 2012, 10:10 GMT)

Good interview with MK. Like Azhar Mahmood, a man who has become a county legend but never fully appreciated by his home country.

Posted by KALPANA. on (September 24, 2012, 8:30 GMT)


Posted by santokh on (September 24, 2012, 8:12 GMT)

Brilliant cricketer and genuinely funny guy. under rated and under used by India

Posted by 100_rabh on (September 24, 2012, 7:35 GMT)

Now i know that you dont like it being asked but Murali, whom did you upset in the hierarchy to not guarantee a permanent position in the Indian XI

Posted by muski on (September 24, 2012, 7:21 GMT)

The answer to the question of what a Teenage Murali Karthik would do today says it all. For a guy who has taken more than 600 wickets in first class cricket, he would have rubbed most guys on the wrong side with his blunt talk. Guys like Sreesanth would do well to take a leaf out of Karthiks story and ensure that history does not repeat itself- it is not a secret that MSD does not like Sree. Cricketers should first be diplomats and then cricketers. Gavaskar could take on the establishment in his time- he had the cricketing skills to do so. Not mere Mortals like Karthik or Sree.

Posted by   on (September 24, 2012, 6:50 GMT)

Good player - deserved to have a better run. Sad he played so few tests..

Posted by SanatAttavar on (September 24, 2012, 6:07 GMT)

Murali Kartik should write a book, am sure he'd have enough stories to tell and more importantly enough people who'd want to read. He's been one of the no nonsense kinds / plays hard / speaks straight - obviously such kinds find it tough to make it, even if they make it like he did, they find it tough to have an extended run. Who better than the man himself to tell the true story. Go for it Murali Kartik and write it the way you saw it / the way it happened would do a lot of good to upcoming cricketers to know what to do and what not to do - also on what's important to them, obviously being on the right side has always been important to you and thats the way it should be for anyone. Your actual place is reserved for you am sure in time you'll be able to see how it has all paid off. Good to know of your ISKCON incident. None is above Sri Krishna.

Posted by SpartaArmy on (September 24, 2012, 5:35 GMT)

One of the most overrated bowler in the domestic circuit. "best spin bowler in the country....." - you got to be kidding me.

Posted by Sunman81 on (September 24, 2012, 5:14 GMT)

lol... The Axe effect... tat's a very obvious answer from the man who knows it better...

Posted by   on (September 24, 2012, 4:58 GMT)

This man could have made it big in International Cricket. But as many talented cricketers used only in domestic cricket he is also one amongst them.

Posted by vaidyar on (September 24, 2012, 4:02 GMT)

Love this guy. Keeps getting a raw deal from the selectors and takes it in his stride. Amazing sense of humour too. Love that title MK 'The Axe Effect'. Burst out laughing when I read that. And love the no-frills attitude to cricket. Happily Mankads after a warning or two and doesn't get caught up in any spirit of cricket crap. Good on ya!

Posted by   on (September 24, 2012, 3:50 GMT)

Reason Karthik could not get a permanent place in the Indian squad was because of his inability to win the Sydney test match in 04' closest someone came to beating OZ in thier own den!

Posted by sloggingintheinnercircle on (September 24, 2012, 3:43 GMT)

Does anyone know who and what kept him out of the Indian team ? After Kumble retired (and even before for home test matches), he should have been an automatic in the Indian team for a while. I surely would like to know the REAL reason.

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