Bradman was an admirer of Murali
Muttiah Muralitharan is internally programmed to be suspicious of former Australian cricketers (and politicians for that matter), many of whom have doubted the legality of his action over the years, but the greatest of them all, the late Sir Donald Bradman, appears to have been one of his fondest admirers.
In a book entitled Chuckers, a history of throwing in Australian cricket compiled and written by Bernard Whimpress, conversations with Tom Thompson between 1995 and 1998 reveal that Bradman believed Murali's action to be clean and his ordeal unfair. Bradman praised his remarkable discipline as a bowler, and his composure under the chucking cloud.
"Murali, for me, shows perhaps the highest discipline of any spin bowler since the war," Bradman said. "He holds all the guile of the trade, but something else too. His slight stature masked a prodigious talent, and what a boon he has been for cricket's development on the subcontinent."
Bradman went on to object to Murali being no-balled during the Boxing Day Test of 1995: "It is with this in mind, and with the game's need to engage as a world sport, that I found umpire Darrell Hair's calling of Murali so distasteful. It was technically impossible of umpire Hair to call Murali from the bowler's end. Why was his eye not on the foot-fall and crease?
"I believe Hair's action - in one over - took the development of world cricket back by ten years. For me, this was the worst example of umpiring that I have witnessed, and against everything the game stands for. Clearly Murali does not throw the ball. No effort in that direction is made or implied by him. His every effort is to direct the ball unto the batsman. Murali wants to bamboozle, to trick through flight and change of pace.
"That through his ordeal he has remained both composed and modest rings further truth in his favour. His is the stuff of our greatest slow bowlers, and for me is one, like O'Reilly, Warne or Trumble; who are game-breakers. They detect and then imagine the batsman's weakness, perhaps in an over or two. What a weapon for any captain: to have the discipline to contain and bamboozle."