Murali the best of his generation - Saqlain Mushtaq
Former Pakistan offspinner Saqlain Mushtaq, widely regarded as the inventor of the doosra, hailed the retiring Muttiah Muralitharan as the "best spinner of his generation".
"I have no doubt in my mind he was the best spinner of his generation," Saqlain told PTI. "A champion bowler no matter what some people say. I am sure many batsmen would have heaved a sigh of relief knowing he is going to retire now."
Saqlain confounded batsmen from the late 90s onwards with the doosra that spins from leg stump to off, the offspinner's equivalent of the googly. He was particularly effective in ODI cricket, where he was one of the rare spinners operating in the slog overs. Over the years, his surprise element waned as he tended to over-use the variation, and he played his last match for Pakistan in 2004. Saqlain was generous in heaping praise on Murali, who is credited with having perfected the mystery ball, now a regular fixture in an offspinner's repertoire.
"You can learn a lot from just watching him bowl and his videos are a must see for young spinners. To be honest I don't think in the next 100 years, cricket is going to see a spinner of his calibre," Saqlain said.
"The best thing about him is that he had no pretensions or airs about him and I am sure even after retirement he will be around to help and guide the youngsters aspiring to be successful slow bowlers."
Saqlain also said there was no room for debate on Murali's bowling action since the ICC had cleared it. "In all fairness I don't think his action is suspect. The fact is that when the ICC cleared his action why should anyone have even raised questions about his action."