Muttiah Muralitharan has said that he may not tour Australia this winter in the wake of the Australian Prime Minister John Howard's comments about his action. When asked whether he thought Muralitharan was a chucker, Howard replied, "Yes. They proved it in Perth too, with that [biomechanics video] thing."

Murali's reaction was a mixture of anger and resentment. "The Prime Minister shouldn't be saying things like that. He doesn't know the facts. I will speak to our government about it [touring]. And you shouldn't be trying to make this thing political. You can't accuse people of being a chucker. It's out of line because he shouldn't be saying those things, he should be thinking of [governing] his country. It's not good enough."

Muralitharan had declared his reluctance to tour Australia during Sri Lanka's visit in 2002-03, when he had to endure constant ridicule from the Australian crowds. Sri Lanka are due to play two Tests in Australia, in Cairns and Darwin, later this year.

Meanwhile Anil Kumble, the Indian legspinner, has termed the whole controversy surrounding Muralitharan as "unfortunate and unnecessary" and asserted that Murali was the best bowler in Test cricket.

"Whatever needed to be done should have been done much earlier," said Kumble, "You can't keep pointing fingers at Murali every time he takes a wicket."