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Ross Emerson, the Australian umpire who no-balled Muttiah Muralitharan for throwing, including in an ODI in Adelaide in 1999, insists the offspinner doesn't deserve his record of most wickets in Tests and the 50-over format.
"I haven't changed my view in 15 years - he doesn't deserve the record," Emerson told Sydney's Daily Telegraph. "You couldn't compare his record to Shane Warne's - no one ever doubted the legality of Warne's action. Murali was a great competitor and a great bowler but a lot of the time he just didn't bowl within the limits of the law."
Murali will retire from Tests following the first Test against India in Galle that starts on July 18. He was first no-balled for "throwing" by Darrell Hair in the MCG Test in 1995 and it was almost ten years later that the ICC amended the rules pertaining to suspect bowling actions, permitting all bowlers to straighten their bowling arms by up to 15 degrees.
Hair, unlike Emerson, had no problems with Murali holding the record, but didn't regret his decision to no-ball him. Instead, he argued, the ICC's decision to change the rules vindicated his actions. "I have no angst over him holding the record but the fact that the rules had to be changed to handle bowlers like that vindicated my actions and the actions of other umpires who called him," Hair said.
"Once they changed the rules and made it legal for bowlers to bend their arm to 15 per cent they gave an advantage to a couple of bowlers who could get something extra from that rule. I would rather see the rule as it was where you couldn't bend your arm at all. That would mean everyone was the same."
Emerson, who later stood down and was not reappointed to the umpires panel, claimed he had been asked to no-ball Murali by an Australian official and was ignored once the incident became a major issue. "I was called to a meeting with him and, knowing that I had called some other players, he told me I had set standards in certain areas which I should uphold in Adelaide," Emerson said. "Yet everything blew up after I called Murali and when I saw him again he wouldn't even look at me.
"Darrell Hair and I were called the controversial ones yet the rule change proved us right. The controversial ones were the umpires who thought he was a chucker yet weren't brave enough to call him. A lot of umpires agreed with what we did but didn't have the courage to call him."
Murali, meanwhile, said he had proved his action was legitimate after being cleared by a series of Tests conducted by the ICC. "I have no regrets at all of being called a controversial bowler," he told reporters in Colombo. "I have proved everything by use of technology. I don't regret anything. My talent is God's gift.
"Nowadays, we use technology for everything. Those who criticise must give bowlers a chance to be tested, not treat them as criminals."