23 January 1999

Sri Lanka almost storm off as Murali "chucking" row boils over


ADELAIDE, Australia, Jan 23 (AFP) - The Muttiah Muralitharan "chucking" row boiled over at Adelaide Oval Saturday when play was held up for 12 minutes after the Sri Lankans protested umpire Ross Emerson's no-ball call for throwing in the one-day international against England.

Sri Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga gestured to his players to walk off to the dressing room after Muralitharan, 26, had been called from square leg by umpire Emerson -- one of three Australian umpires who had no-balled the Sri Lankan for throwing three years ago.

Players stopped on the edge of the field as heated discusions took place with Emerson, his co-umpire, Tony McQuillan, and match referee, Peter Van der Merwe, of South Africa.

Sri Lankan officials phoned Colombo before the decision was made to return to the field but manager Ranjith Fernando said later there had been no question of Sri Lanka pulling out of the game and ending the match.

"I don't think that was in Ranatunga's mind," he said. "There was a situation of desperation. This sort of thing does not happen often. The game is more important than any of these things.

"There is outrage not only among the team, but the public at large. But relations with the Australian Cricket Board are not soured."

Emerson, a former policeman from Western Australia, called Muralitharan as he sent down the fourth ball of his second over -- the 19th of the innings -- after his opening over had been uneventful.

As Ranatunga argued with umpires, Muralitharan's team-mates threw their arms around him, consoling the dejected player.

When play resumed, Muralitharan completed the remaining two balls of his second over without further incident.

Ranatunga brought him on at the other end straight away, away from the critical gaze of Emerson, now standing at the bowler's end.

Ranatunga also asked Emerson to stand close to the stumps, a move designed to make it difficult for Emerson to call him.

Muralitharan bowled three overs from Emerson's end uneventfully.

Saturday's events came three years after Muralitharan was called for throwing by Emerson, McQuillan and Darrell Hair during Sri Lanka's last tour here.

Hair described Muralitharan's action as "diabolical" in a recent book which landed him in hot water with the International Cricket Council.

The Council has decided Hair should be called to account for his comment. He will appear shortly before a hearing of the Australian Cricket Board.

England were 173-3 in the 35th over.

Source :: AFP