Thu, 28 Sep 2023

New Delhi [India], September 14 (ANI): Often hailed as the most successful spinner in the history of cricket, Muttiah Muralitharan recently reflected on the most controversial aspect of his career - his bowling technique.

The former Sri Lankan spinner, who has been credited with 800 Test wickets, faced substantial criticism and backlash regarding his bowling action throughout his career. While cricket legend Sir Don Bradman came to his defense, notable figures like Adam Gilchrist and Bishan Singh Bedi did not hold back in criticizing his action.

While speaking exclusively to ANI, Muralitharan revealed that he was initially unaware of the uniqueness of his bowling action compared to other off-spinners during the early stages of his career.

"This realization came to me in 2005, during the Boxing Day match, and it was a little bit of shocking news for me. So what happens we grew up in the 80s and 90s when there was limited access to television, especially for Test matches. The cricket board had to arrange for broadcasts. I think I have never seen my action to myself so in my team Ruwan Kalpagehe was two years or three years senior and he played for Sri Lanka before me and he bowls off-spin also he is an all-rounder, he is a batsman, I don't bat much," Muralitharan told ANI.

"So when you see his bowling and both our off spinners say actions are the same you don't see yourself bowling. I had never seen my own action on TV, and even in front of a mirror, it's difficult to perceive.

I had never seen my action until I played first time when I was 17 or 18, I played for the Tamil Union club first class, so they got into best of four, playing under lights day-night matches. So then only I saw my action, even for me it was awkward because I didn't feel happy about it," Muralitharan added.

Muralitharan further stated that, initially, he believed his bowling action was natural, especially since no umpires or members of the Sri Lankan team had raised any concerns about it.

"I think it's not similar to what other off-spinners are bowling in the world. I had observed Ruwan Kalpage's action and other off-spinners on video cassettes, I have seen some off-spinners so it is not the same I am so different I am bowling with the wrist and everything I thought it's natural. So that's the first time I saw and other umpires were not complaining. Even when I went to the Sri Lankan team nothing, nobody has questioned," said.

However, in 1995 things started to change after umpire Darrel Hair called no-ball for Muralitharan's action five times in a single over on 'Boxing Day' at the MCG against Australia.

"Boxing Day is a special day for Australian cricket. So there will be 80,000 people because you know the MCG is so huge and 80,000 people come this is like an annual party for them to come to that match. The surprise was that Darrel Hair (umpire) could have raised concerns earlier, but he chose this high-profile match, indicating different intentions. He called no balls 5 times in that over, but I completed the over. Steve Dunn, the umpire at the other end, refrained from getting involved; he believed I was fair, and that was his stance," Muralitharan said.

"So we went to Western Australian University they had human movements like seeing injuries and everything to see defects, they checked and said it is an illusion. When you see it in three dimension it is you can see it clearly people see in two dimension they can't see it in three dimension in TV. So two dimension can be an illusion somethings in life illusion can happen so illusion is what people see.

My arm is 38 per cent bent so that illusion shows to people because of the bend I have a supple wrist and a supple shoulder to rotate any side," Muralitharan added.

This wasn't the only time Muralitharan was called out because of his unique bowling action. In the same year, Muralitharan was called out in the ODI series against Australia by umpire Ross Emerson for his bowling action and the chain of events that unfolded later on.

"Emerson (umpire) called me and said I was throwing and some balls which are not right still I finished the 10 overs, Arjuna (captain) and everyone had enough of it. He didn't walk he abandoned the match we didn't play, he was discussing match referee came in. For 45 minutes to 1 hour we didn't play. The cricket board sent a message to carry on. Then again I had to for tests and Arjuna got suspended he got fined and banned for one match. He was a great captain and father figure for younger ones because of him Sri Lanka cricket came to one place so he put his career and he fought for teammates so that's real captaincy not many people will do it. He was one of the great captains I played under," Muralitharan said. (ANI)

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