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How the cricket world reacted to Muralitharan's chucking controversy

Chappell, Benaud and Botham were among those who reacted strongly to the controversial no-ball call

In our #RetroLive series, we rewind to classic matches to bring you the ball-by-ball commentary and match coverage as if the games were happening live, for the first time.
This was the third time - all instances in Australia - that Muttiah Muralitharan was called during a live match for throwing. Things came to a head with Arjuna Ranatunga walking off with his team only to resume playing after a 15-minute interval during which many a discussion happened with the officials. A phone call was made back home to cricket board officials too. This is what the experts and the participants said about the incident at the time.

The observers

This was the first time Umpires Ross Emerson and Tony McQuillan stood in a game involving Murali since they last called him back in 1996. So there was anticipation even before the actual no-ball call was made.
"Quite amazing. The two umpires out there know more than the International Cricket Council. I think it's all rather pathetic. It is a decision that has been made by some very respected people who have played a lot of cricket at international level and first-class level. And yet two people who might make that decision have played no more than a bit of club cricket."
Ian Botham, referring to Murali's action being cleared by the ICC committee on bowling actions, headed by Clyde Walcott and comprised of such legends as Kapil Dev, Michael Holding and Bob Simpson.
"The English batsmen will be sick in the stomach. I feel a little bit upset myself. Regardless of whether his action is legal or not, that should be decided at the end of the series. This is a team standing behind its bowler who has been cleared by 40 umpires across the world, but here he is called in the middle of the series…
"I am a bit lost and saddened by the decisions this afternoon. Murali will be feeling sick in the stomach. He will be very confused. He has got 200 Test wickets. He has bowled a lot of overs in this series so far. Then all of a sudden he has been called for having an illegal action at the Adelaide Oval."
Bill Lawry, staying non-committal about the actual action, was not happy with how things panned out on the day.
"I have been through three of these. The first one was Ian Meckiff in Brisbane in 1963, then the second time was Muralitharan when he was called at the MCG [by Umpire Darrell Hair, whom Sri Lanka got barred from standing in their games]. Today the third time has produced the exact same feeling, which is very empty at the pit of the stomach. The ICC, I think now, will be dragged kicking and screaming into the region of solving the mess."
Richie Benaud pointed the ICC to the mess it created when the umpires called bowlers on the field for chucking as opposed to reviewing actions and sending them for remedial work between series.
"How come he can't make a decision on that one with the naked eye and yet he can call the flick of an elbow with the naked eye? Miles out of the ground, but he relies on the replay, which is what he should have been doing with respect to the no-ball."
Tony Greig was a big critic of making that call with the naked eye. The moment Emerson sent a straightforward run-out decision upstairs, Greig was ready to rub it in.
"The fact that this has been allowed to interrupt the day's play the way it did is quite sad. The thing that you have got to ask of the officials is how come it is allowed to happen in the middle of the arena? This is the third time in Murali's case that it is happening in the middle of the international arena. All three times in Australia. And you would think that if somebody's got a doubtful action, they would stop before they get to international cricket."
Ian Chappell called for officials at grassroots levels to be more selfless and watchful.

The official

Doug Insole was member of the ICC committee that cleared Murali, but he explained to Channel 9 the technicalities behind it, and that the on-field umpire had the right to call even a bowler cleared by them. That he said as someone who was called once for throwing, which shocked him too.
"Of those that have been seen worldwide as it were, there are one or two who have got perfectly ordinary basic actions, but who stick a bit extra when they try to do a something bit extra. Then there are one or two who have a basic fault in their action. There is no way that ICC can say that that bloke is never going to throw again. You can't say to an umpire that this bloke is cleared, and he must never be no-balled. What you can say is that as far as the panel is concerned, his basic action, as we have seen it, is okay.
"It is a desperate thing to happen to a bowler. I feel sorry for the man himself. You'd be right in saying - and one has to be a bit cagey about this - on the basis of the videotape that we saw, and I can't remember whether everyone was on the conference call or whether one two were missing or what, but certainly the general opinion at that time was that his action, as seen on that video, was legitimate."

The participants

"The question of Umpire Hair standing had to do with him making some comments prior to the tour in a book that he was publishing. It wasn't in anyway connected with him no-balling Muralitharan before. As for the other two umpires, there was no question that the Sri Lankan cricket board nor any of the players felt his action was unfair. He had been cleared by 40 umpires all over the world, and a committee that had been set up of eminent bowlers. And one might say, umpires in this tournament as well. So there was never a doubt as far as it was concerned.
"Arjuna walked off with his team merely to get a clarification as to how they must proceed. It would have seemed they were leaving the ground, but the basic intention was to find how they should proceed. The point was that the Sri Lankan board would have at no stage wanted the match to be abandoned because after all cricket has to continue and the lofty ideals of the game has to continue. Also we didn't in anyway want to embarrass the Australian cricket board.
"That he is different is one of the problems that has created this illusion: the permanently bent arm of his and that rotation of the shoulder and also the profuse use of the wrists, which I think creates this illusion, which umpires and people find something different in it."
Sri Lanka manager Ranjith Fernando.
"I never thought it will happen because he has bowled all over the world and we have never had a problem. Then suddenly one guy comes and calls, I think it is really unfortunate. I think it is really bad on Australian cricket's part.
"Murali has a really bad arm, everyone knows about it. The person who calls, he must be having a really really good eye. I think any batsman would love to have that eye… the batsman will get thousand runs in two months if that eye comes to a batsman. The way Murali bowls, if you can pick that, he must be really amazing [to be calling him with the naked eye].
"We knew we had to win the game for Murali, and that's what happened today. We have the same umpires in a game towards the end of the tour so we have to take a firm decision what to do. We have to consult with the board and then it is up to the board or the government. It is very important. Murali has been a key person for the country and for Sri Lankan cricket.
"I think we never had a problem anywhere except Australia. I think most of the cricketers will try to avoid Australia the way it goes now. And the public has been really bad on Murai, and the media has been really bad. I think it is pathetic that a person who has got 200 Test wickets is only called in Australia. I don't think he should suffer like this. Everyone likes to come to Australia and do well in Australia but it is totally different the image we have now."
Sri Lanka captain Arjuna Ranatunga
"I am not allowed to comment unfortunately due to ICC regulations but what I will say is we have been brought up, if an umpire makes a decision, that's it, you accept it and get on with the game. Today that didn't happen."
England captain Alec Stewart. When told that the action had been cleared by the ICC, Stewart said the umpires still had a right to make the call on the day.
"There you are but again it comes down to the umpire, how he sees things. It is the same with lbw decisions or run-outs or whatever."
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