Deshabandu Muttiah Muralitharan (Tamil: , Sinhalese: ; also spelt Muralidaran; born ;XI. In those days he played as an all-rounder and batted in the middle order. In his final two seasons at St Anthony’s College he took over one hundred wickets and in 1990/1 was named as the ‘Bata Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year’.
After leaving school he joined Tamil Union Cricket and Athletic Club and was selected for the Sri Lanka A tour of England in 1991. He played in five games but failed to capture a single wicket. On his return to Sri Lanka he impressed against Allan Border‘s Australian team in a practice game and then went on to make his Test debut at R. Premadasa Stadium in the Second Test Match of the series.
When his grandfather died at the age of 104 in July 2004, Muralitharan returned home from a tour of India to attend his funeral. Periyasamy Sinasamy’s first wish to see Muralitharan claiming the world record for the most Test wickets was realised (passing the record set by Courtney Walsh), but not his desire to live to see his grandson married. Muralitharan’s grandmother had died one month earlier at the age of 97. Muralitharan’s manager, Kushil Gunasekera stated that “Murali’s family is closely knit and united. They respect traditional values. The late grandfather enjoyed a great relationship with Murali.”
Muralitharan married Madhimalar Ramamurthy, a Chennai native, on ;”>
In Sri Lanka
In domestic cricket, Muralitharan played for two first-class Sri Lankan sides, Tamil Union Cricket and Athletic Club in the Premier Trophy and Central Province in the Provincial Championship. His record is exceptional – 234 wickets at 14.51 runs in 46 matches.
He also played county cricket in England, mainly for Lancashire (1999, 2001, 2005 and 2007) where he appeared in twenty-eight first-class games for the club. He played five first class games for Kent during the 2003 season. His bowling record in English domestic cricket is also exceptional – 236 wickets at 15.62 runs in 33 matches. Despite his efforts, he was never on a title winning first-class domestic team in either the Premier Trophy or the County Championship. He was unusual amongst his contemporaries in that he played in more Test matches than other first-class games (116 Tests and 99 other first class matches as of ;”>
Muralitharan is the first wrist-spinning off-spinner in the history of the game. He bowls marathon spells, yet he is usually on the attack. His unique bowling action begins with a short run-up, and culminates with an open-chested extremely wristy release from a partly supinated forearm which had him mistaken for a leg-spinner early in his career by Allan Border. Aside from his stock delivery, the off-break, of which he claimed to have two variations (during a recorded television ‘doosra’ show off with Mark Nicholas from Channel 4 in 2004), his main deliveries are a fast topspinner which lands on the seam and usually goes straight on, and the doosra, a surprise delivery which turns from leg to off (the opposite direction of his stock delivery) with no easily discernible change of action. Additionally, he would occasionally use one of his several unnamed novelties. His super-flexible wrist makes him especially potent and guarantees him turn on any surface.
From his debut in 1992, Muralitharan took 800 Test wickets and over 500 One Day International wickets, becoming the first player to take 1,000 wickets combined in the two main forms of international cricket.
On 28 August 1992 at the age of 20, Muralitharan made his debut against Australia at the Khettarama Stadium and claimed 3 for 141. Craig McDermott was his first Test wicket. His freakish action and his angular run-up showed that this was no run-of-the-mill spinner. During his first Test, there was one dismissal which convinced many of Muralitharan’s special powers. Tom Moody‘s leg-stump was dislodged when he shouldered arms to a delivery that pitched at least two feet outside the off-stump.
The youthful Muralitharan went from strength to strength, playing a major part in Sri Lanka’s back-to-back Test victories against England and New Zealand in 1992-93. It was at this point in his career that he struck a close bond with his leader, mentor and one time business partner, the authoritative captain Arjuna Ranatunga. This relationship formed the bedrock of his success and meant that there were few doubts about his status as the team’s sole wicket-taker. Ranatunga was thoroughly convinced that Muralitharan’s precocious talent would signal a new era in Sri Lanka’s short Test history.
Muralitharan continued to baffle batsman outside the shores of Sri Lanka, irrespective of the team’s performance. In Sri Lanka’s humiliating drubbing at the hands of India in 1993-94, where all three Tests were innings defeats, Muralitharan was the sole success, with 12 wickets in the rubber. His perseverance in the face of some astronomical scores by the fearsome quartet of Mohammed Azharuddin, Sachin Tendulkar, Navjot Sidhu and Vinod Kambli was in sharp contrast to the submission with which his team-mates played the series.
It was in New Zealand in March 1995 that Muralitharan displayed his qualities as a match-winner on any surface. In Sri Lanka’s first triumph on foreign soil, Muralitharan confused the crease-bound New Zealanders on a grassy pitch in Dunedin. The Sri Lankan manager Duleep Mendis‘ claim that Muralitharan can turn the ball on concrete was confirmed. On the eve of his tour of Pakistan later that year, doubts were cast on his ability to trouble subcontinental batsmen. By taking 19 wickets in the series and delivering a historic 2-1 victory, the off-spinner silenced the doubters. The Pakistanis, who had negotiated Warne’s leg-breaks in the previous home series, were never at ease against him.
Prior to the eventful Boxing Day Test of 1995, Muralitharan had captured 80 wickets in 22 Tests at an unflattering average of 32.74. Even at that point in his career he was the leading wicket taker for Sri Lanka having gone past Rumesh Ratnayake‘s aggregate of 73 wickets.
Boxing Day Test 1995
During the second Test between Sri Lanka and Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Boxing Day 1995, Australian umpire Darrell Hair called Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan for throwing in front of a crowd of 55,239. The off-spinner was no-balled seven times in three overs by Hair, who believed the then 23-year-old was bending his arm and straightening it in the process of delivery; an illegal action in cricket.
Muralitharan had bowled two overs before lunch from umpire Steve Dunne’s or the Members’ End of the ground with umpire Hair at square leg and these passed without incident. At ; Technology in 1996. They concluded that his action created the ‘optical illusion of throwing’.
On 16 March 1997, Muralitharan became the first Sri Lankan to reach 100 test wickets, when he dismissed Stephen Fleming in the second innings of the Hamilton Test.
In January 1998, Muralitharan took his first ten-wicket haul against Zimbabwe in the first test at Kandy. Sri Lanka won by eight wickets and Muralitharan had figures of 12 for 117.
In August that same year Muralitharan produces his career-best test match figures of 16 for 220, in the one-off test against England. In England’s second innings Muralitharan bowled a marathon 54.2 overs to pick up 9 for 65 runs, the other wicket being a run out. Ben Hollioake becomes his 200th test wicket. Sri Lanka won by ten wickets, their first Test victory in England. After breaking the world record for the most test wickets in 2007, Muralitharan commented that his 1998 performance at the Oval against England, was his career highlight. He stated “Everyone thought I was a good bowler then and I didn’t look back from there.”
Playing his 58th test, Muralitharan claimed his 300th test wicket when he dismissed Shaun Pollock in the First Test in Durban, in December 2000. Only Dennis Lillee reached the milestone faster, in his 56th test.
On 4 January 2002 in Kandy Muralitharan might have finished with the best-ever figures for a single innings, but after he had claimed nine wickets against Zimbabwe Russel Arnold dropped a catch at short leg. He missed out on the tenth when Chaminda Vaas dismissed Henry Olonga caught behind amid stifled appeals. Muralitharan follows up his 9 for 51 in the first innings with 4 for 64 in the second, equalling Richard Hadlee‘s record of 10 ten-wicket match hauls, but needing 15 fewer Tests to do so.
On 16 March 2004 Muralitharan became the fastest and the youngest bowler to reach 500 wickets during the second test between Sri Lanka and Australia played in Kandy. In his 87th test, he bowled Kasprowicz to claim his 500th victim just four days after Warne reached the landmark on the fifth day of the First Test between the two teams at Galle. Warne took 108 tests to reach 500. Muralitharan took 4-48 on the first day of the second Test as Australia were skittled for 120 in the first innings.
Passing Walsh and Warne
In May 2004, Muralitharan overtook West Indian Courtney Walsh‘s record of 519 Test match wickets to become the highest wicket-taker. Zimbabwe’s Mluleki Nkala becomes Muralitharan’s 520th scalp in Tests. Muralitharan held the record until Shane Warne claimed it in October 2004. Warne surpassed Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralitharan’s mark of 532 wickets by dismissing India’s Irfan Pathan. Warne said he enjoyed his duel with Muralitharan, who was sidelined following shoulder surgery at the time.
After an outstanding year Muralitharan was adjudged as the Wisden Leading Cricketer in the World in 2006. In six Tests, he took 60 wickets. He took ten in each of four successive matches, the second time he performed such a feat. The opponents for his 60-wicket haul were England away, South Africa at home and New Zealand away: serious opposition. In all, Muralitharan took 90 wickets in 11 Tests in the calendar year.
In July 2007, Muttiah Muralitharan became the second bowler after Australia’s Shane Warne to capture 700 Test wickets. The off-spinner reached the landmark when he had Bangladesh’s last man Syed Rasel caught in the deep by Farveez Maharoof on the fourth day of the third and final Test at the Asgiriya stadium in Kandy. The dismissal signalled Sri Lanka’s victory by an innings and 193 runs to give the host a 3-0 sweep of the series. Muralitharan finished with six wickets in each innings to claim 10 wickets or more in a Test for the 20th time. However, he was unable to pass Warne’s record of 708 wickets when Sri Lanka toured Australia in November 2007, capturing just four wickets in two Test matches.
Muralitharan reclaimed the record for most Test wickets during the first Test against England at Kandy on ; text-align:center; float:right; margin-left:1em;”>
In July 2007, Muralitharan achieved a career peak Test Bowling Rating of 920, based on the LG ICC Player Rankings. This is the highest ever rating achieved by a spin bowler in Test cricket. This also puts him in fourth place in the LG ICC Best-Ever Test bowling ratings.
Muralitharan has the unique distinction of getting 10 or more wickets in a match against all other nine Test playing nations as well as capturing over 50 wickets against each of them. He also obtained 7 or more wickets in an innings against five nations, namely England, India, South Africa, West Indies and Zimbabwe (refer to table above). Muttiah Muralitharan also took at least five five-fors against all the other nine Test sides.
He currently holds the highest wickets/match ratio (6.1) for any bowler with over 200 Test wickets and also represented Sri Lanka in 118 Tests of the 175 that they have played (67.4%).
Against teams excluding Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, Muralitharan took 624 wickets in 108 Tests. By comparison, excluding his matches against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, Warne took 691 wickets in 142 tests. Murali’s average of 24.05 is slightly superior to Warne’s career average of 25.41. Muralitharan won 18 Man of the Match awards in Test cricket.
During Muralitharan’s playing days, the ICC Future Tours Programme denied Sri Lanka and several other teams a level playing field. As a consequence Muralitharan never toured South Africa after December 2002 and never playing a Test at the spin-friendly Sydney Cricket Ground.
Another comparison of Muralitharan’s bowling record against other successful international bowlers is their career record away from home. Muralitharan received criticism that he enjoyed great success on home soil, taking wickets on pitches that are more spin-friendly than other international pitches. A quick analysis of his Test record of matches played outside Sri Lanka shows that from 52 matches he took 278 wickets at an average of 26.24 runs per wicket, with a strike rate of 60.1 balls per wicket. Similarly, spin bowling rival Shane Warne retired with a slightly superior ‘away’ record of 362 wickets from 73 matches, at an average of 25.50 and a strike rate of 56.7. Due to the variabilities of Test cricket such as grounds played at and opposition played against it is difficult to compare the quality of the top level players and, as such, is very difficult and subjective. However, it is clear that Muralitharan did much better playing at home to test minnows Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, averaging less than 16 runs a wicket.
Cricinfo’s statistics editor S Rajesh concluded that the decade 2000-2009 was the best 10-year period for Test batsmen since the 1940s. Muralitharan was clearly the leading Test wicket-taker during this period, capturing 565 wickets at 20.97 in spite of the dominance of the bat over ball. Shane Warne captured 357 wickets at an average of 25.17 during the decade. Of spinners with over Test 100 wickets only John Briggs (17.75), Jim Laker (21.24), Bill O Reilly (22.59) and Clarrie Grimmett (24.21) have sub 25.00 bowling averages.
Muralitharan was on the winning side on 54 of the 133 test matches he played. In those games he captured a total of 438 wickets (8.1 wickets per match), at an outstanding average of 16.18 per wicket and a strike rate of 42.7. Muralitharan took 795 wickets for his country Sri Lanka in 132 tests. The next most wickets for Sri Lanka in these 132 Tests was Chaminda Vaas‘ 309 – less than 40% of the spinner’s pile. No one else managed 100. Collectively Sri Lankan bowlers tallied 1968 wickets across that span, of which Muralitharan accounted for 40.4%. Among the 24 other Sri Lankans who took more than 10 of those wickets, only Lasith Malinga did so at a better strike rate (52.3) than Muralitharan’s 54.9 – and the latter bowled rather more overs, 6657.1 of them to be precise.
Test wicket milestones
|Number||Batsman||Method||Score||Team||Match #||Test #||Notes|
|50th||Navjot Sidhu||caught Ruwan Kalpage||43||India||13||1247|
|74th||Inzamam-ul-Haq||caught and bowled||26||Pakistan||20||1305||Breaks Rumesh Ratnayake‘s Sri Lankan record|
|100th||Stephen Fleming||bowled||59||New Zealand||27||1359|
|150th||Guy Whittall||caught Mahela Jayawardene||17||Zimbabwe||36||1395|
|200th||Dominic Cork||caught Romesh Kaluwitharana||8||England||42||1423|
|300th||Shaun Pollock||caught Tillakaratne Dilshan||11||South Africa||58||1526|
|350th||Mohammad Sharif||caught and bowled||19||Bangladesh||66||1561|
|450th||Daryl Tuffey||caught Sanath Jayasuriya||1||New Zealand||80||1644|
|520th||Mluleki Nkala||caught Mahela Jayawardene||24||Zimbabwe||89||1698||Breaks Courtney Walsh‘s world record|
|550th||Khaled Mashud||caught Thilan Samaraweera||2||Bangladesh||94||1764|
|600th||Khaled Mashud||caught Lasith Malinga||6||Bangladesh||101||1786|
|650th||Makhaya Ntini||caught Farveez Maharoof||13||South Africa||108||1812|
|700th||Syed Rasel||caught Farveez Maharoof||4||Bangladesh||113||1839|
|709th||Paul Collingwood||bowled||45||England||116||1851||Breaks Shane Warne‘s world record|
|750th||Sourav Ganguly||stumped Prasanna Jayawardene||16||India||122||1884|
|800th||Pragyan Ojha||caught Mahela Jayawardene||13||India||133||1964||His final delivery in Test cricket|
One day internationals
On 12 August 1993 Muralitharan made his One Day International (ODI) debut against India at the Khettarama Stadium and took 1 for 38 off ten overs. Praveen Amre was his first ODI wicket.
On 27 October 2000 in Sharjah, Muralitharan captured 7 for 30 against India, which were then the best bowling figures in One Day Internationals.
On 9 April 2002 Muralitharan achieved a career peak ODI Bowling Rating of 913, based on the LG ICC Player Rankings. This is the highest ever rating achieved by a spin bowler in One Day Internationals. This also puts him in fourth place in the LG ICC Best-Ever ODI bowling ratings.
In 2006, Muralitharan had the second (now third) highest number of runs (99) hit off him in a One Day International Innings. The Australians, especially Adam Gilchrist, attacked Muralitharan’s bowling more than usual that day. It is also to be noted that Muralitharan does not have a great record against the Australians in ODIs and this was proved again as he was ineffective in the finals of the 2007 World Cup; his chief tormentor again being Gilchrist.
Muralitharan played in five Cricket World Cup tournaments, in 1996, 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011. He captured 67 World Cup wickets and is second in the list behind Glenn McGrath who has 71, and represented Sri Lanka in three World Cup finals. In 1996 Muralitharan was part Sri Lanka’s World Cup winning team that defeated Australia in Lahore, Pakistan. Muralitharan also played in the 2007 World Cup final, when Australia defeated Sri Lanka in Bridgetown, Barbados. He picked up 23 wickets in the 2007 World Cup, and finished as the second highest wicket taker in the tournament behind Glenn McGrath. He was part of the 2011 team who lost the world cup final against India in Mumbai. It was his farewell match as well.
Muttiah Muralitharan was left out of the Sri Lankan one-day squad to tour West Indies in April 2008. The chairman of selectors Ashantha De Mel clarifying the non-selection stated that “We know he (Muralitharan) can still play in the next World Cup if he is properly looked after, so we want to use him sparingly to preserve him for the big games and the World Cup coming up in the Asian sub-continent where Muralitharan will be a threat.”
Muralitharan has the highest number of career wickets in One Day Internationals, having overtaken Wasim Akram on ; the New Zealand fielder had not yet returned the ball to the wicketkeeper, so the ball was still in play. His highest Test score of 67 came against India at Kandy in 2001, including three sixes and five fours. He made valuable scores on occasion, including 30 runs against England at the Oval in 1998, including 5 fours, 38 runs (4 fours, 1 six) against England at Galle in 2003, 43 runs (5 fours, 3 sixes) against Australia at Kandy in 2004 36 runs against the West Indies at Colombo in 2005, and his highest-ever ODI score, 33 not out (4 fours and 2 sixes off 16 balls) against Bangladesh in the final of the 2009 Tri-Series in Bangladesh. In the latter match, Muralitharan’s effort, which included three fours and a six off one over, played a key role in Sri Lanka winning the match and series after the first eight overs saw them reduced to 6 for 5, the lowest score ever recorded in an ODI at the fall of the fifth wicket. Muralitharan has a strike rate close to 70 in Test cricket and scored over 55% of his Test runs in fours and sixes.
Muralitharan, together with Chaminda Vaas, holds the record for the highest 10th wicket partnership in Tests for Sri Lanka. The pair put on 79 runs for the last wicket at the Asgiriya Stadium against Australia in March 2004. Muralitharan also holds the record for scoring most runs in Test cricket while batting at the number 11 position.
Muralitharan currently holds the record for the most ducks (dismissals for zero) ever in international cricket (Tests, ODI’s and Twenty20), with a total of 59 ducks.
Abuse in Australia
Muralitharan voiced his frustration at routinely being heckled by Australian crowds who accuse him of throwing – one common jeer directed at him was “No Ball!”. Following the then Australian Prime Minister John Howard‘s statement that Muralitharan was a “chucker”, in 2004, Muralitharan indicated that he would skip future tours to Australia.
Tom Moody, the former Sri Lanka coach and former Australian Test cricketer, said he was embarrassed by the derogatory reaction and negative attention directed towards Muttiah Muralitharan by Australian crowds. Moody stated that “As an Australian when I have been with the Sri Lankan team in Australia, or playing against them in the World Cup, it’s the only situation we find in the whole of the cricketing world where we have this disgraceful slant on a cricketer”.
During the 2008 CB series in Australia, some members of the Sri Lankan contingent including Muralitharan, were the target of an egg throwing incident in Hobart. The Sri Lankan cricket selector Don Anurasiri was hit by an egg, while Muralitharan and two others were verbally abused by a car-load of people as they were walking from a restaurant back to the hotel. Due to the incident taking place at night, it is unclear whether Muralitharan was indeed the target of the culprits. Even though the Australian coach of the Sri Lankan team, Trevor Bayliss, down-played the incident as “a non-event”, Cricket Australia tightened security around the team. In response to this episode Muralitharan was quoted as saying “When you come to Australia, you expect such incidents”.
At the conclusion of Muralitharan’s test career cricket writer Rahul Bhattacharya summed up Muralitharan’s trials thus: “Murali is described often as a fox. This seems right. Unlike hedgehog bowlers who pursue one big idea, Murali, like a fox, had many ways of pursuit. Like a fox he did not hunt in a pack. Like a fox he was himself cruelly hunted for sport in some parts of the world. Fox hunting was banned a few years ago in England, but is still legal in Australia.”
On 7 July 2010, Muttiah Muralitharan formally announced his retirement from Test cricket at a media briefing in Colombo. He confirmed that the first Test Match against India due to commence on ; bowled (35) jointly with Anil Kumble. Bowled by Muralitharan (b Muralitharan) is the most common dismissal in Test cricket (excluding run out).
In 2002, Wisden carried out a statistical analysis of all Test matches in an effort to rate the greatest cricketers in history, and Muralitharan was ranked as the best Test bowler of all time. However, two years earlier, Muralitharan was not named as one of the five Wisden Cricketers of the Century. Former Australian captain Steve Waugh called him “the Don Bradman of bowling”.
Muralitharan was selected as the Wisden Leading Cricketer in the World in 2000 and in 2006.
On 15 November 2007, the Warne-Muralidaran Trophy was unveiled named after the two leading wicket-takers in Test cricket, Shane Warne and Muralitharan. The trophy displays images of the two spin bowlers’ hands each holding a cricket ball. This trophy will be contested between Australia and Sri Lanka in all future Test series.
On 3 December 2007, just hours after Muttiah Muralitharan became Test cricket’s leading Test wicket-taker, Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) announced it had unveiled a portrait of the Sri Lanka off-spinner at Lord’s. On the same day the Philatelic Bureau of the Department of Posts in Sri Lanka issued a circular stamp with a denomination of Rs. 5 to mark the world record set by Muttiah Muralitharan. The circular design was meant to denote the cricket ball.
Australian musician Alston Koch provoked worldwide interest when he recorded the only official tribute song to Muralitharan. The song was even mentioned on the BBC’s Test Match Special. The Muralitharan Song video was also released after he broke the world record.
On 10 January 2008, the Parliament of Sri Lanka felicitated Muttiah Muralitharan for his world record breaking feat of being the highest wicket taker in Test cricket. This was the first time that a sportsman had been honoured in the country’s Supreme Legislature.
Controversy of bowling action
Throughout much of his international career, Muralitharan’s action was suspected of contravening the laws of the game by the straightening of his bowling arm during delivery. Although he was cited three times, subsequent biomechanical testing led the ICC to clear him of the charge and permit him to continue bowling.
Biomechanical testing conducted on four occasions fueled debate as to whether his action was in fact illegal or actually an illusion created by his allegedly unique ability to generate extra movement both at the shoulder as well the wrist, which enables him to bowl the doosra without straightening the elbow.
First throwing citation and testing
Initial concerns as to whether Muralitharan’s action contravened the laws of the game by straightening his bowling arm during delivery broke into open controversy after Australian umpire Darrell Hair called a “no ball” for an illegal action seven times during the Boxing Day Test match in Melbourne, Australia, in 1995. Australian Sir Donald Bradman, universally regarded as the greatest batsman in history, was later quoted as saying it was the “worst example of umpiring that witnessed, and against everything the game stands for. Clearly Murali does not throw the ball”.
Ten days later, on 5 January 1996, Sri Lanka played the West Indies in the seventh ODI of the triangular World Series competition, in Brisbane. Umpire Ross Emerson officiating in his debut international match, no-balled Muralitharan three times in his first over, twice in his second and twice in his third. It was an identical tally to that called by Hair on Boxing Day and (like Hair) Emerson made his calls from the bowler’s end while his partner stood silent. The main difference was that several no-balls were for leg-breaks instead of the bowler’s normal off-breaks.
In February 1996, just before the World Cup, Muralitharan underwent biomechanical analysis at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology under the supervision of Prof. Ravindra Goonetilleke, who declared his action legal in the conditions tested, citing a congenital defect in Muralitharan’s arm which makes him incapable of fully straightening the arm but gives the appearance of fully straightening it. Although under the original Laws a bowler’s arm did not have to be fully straightened to be an illegal delivery, it was concluded that his action created the ‘optical illusion of throwing’. Based on this evidence, ICC gave clearance to Muralitharan to continue bowling.
Second citation and testing
Doubts about Muralitharan’s action persisted, however. On the 1998-99 tour to Australia he was once again called for throwing by Ross Emerson during a One Day International against England at the Adelaide Oval in Australia. The Sri Lankan team almost abandoned the match, but after instructions from the President of the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka, the game resumed. The Sri Lankan captain at the time Arjuna Ranatunga, was later fined and given a suspended ban from the game as a result. It later emerged that at the time of this match Emerson was on sick leave from his non-cricket job due to a stress-related illness and he stood down for the rest of the series. Muralitharan was sent for further tests in Perth and England and was cleared again. At no stage was Muralitharan requested to change or remodel his action, by the ICC. Up to this point in his career (1999) Muralitharan primarily bowled two types of deliveries, namely the off-break and the topspinner. He had not yet mastered the doosra.
Third citation and testing
Muralitharan continued bowling, taking his 500th Test wicket in the second Test against Australia in Kandy on ;… but once you go further than 15 degrees you get into an area which is starting to give you an unfair advantage and you are breaking the law”.
University of South Australia study
The original decision of disallowing the doosra bowling action was hailed widely as justifiable on account of being scientifically based. Hence, a team of Australian scientists representing the University of South Australia conducted an independent research, in line with modern Artificial Intelligence and biomechanics in order to solve the controversial issue arise from doosra. The University of South Australia‘s study, founded by Prof. Mahinda Pathegama, and contributed by Prof. Ozdemir Gol, Prof. J. Mazumdar, Prof. Tony Worsley and Prof. Lakmi Jain has analyzed the previous studies with close scrutiny since the techniques in their fields of expertise are employed in the course of assessment as the basis for decision-making. The findings based on this scientific study are overwhelming and Dave Richardson, General Manager ICC stated that the ICC is currently reviewing the Law on throwing and the ICC regulations and the study done by Prof. Mahinda Pathegama with UniSA scientists is a valuable source of information in this regard. The team of Australian scientists including Sri Lankan-born Australian scientist, Prof. Mahinda Pathegama reporting their findings, in line with the Muralitharan test to ICC, has analyzed in-depth various issues, such as Pitfalls in image interpretation when using 2D images for 3D modeling associates compared to the modern techniques in Artificial Intelligence and biomechanics, and Biomechanics assessment for doosra bowling action, etc. Pathegama at al. (2004) further reports on the Disagreement of expression on measurement accuracy in the Murali Report, with the analysis of the Motion tracking system used for the Murali Report, and discussing Cognitive aspects, Evidence of errors in Anthropometric assessment and movement tracking, Lateral inhibition in response tracking, Psycho-physiological aspect on post-assessments, Angular measurement errors, Skin marker induced errors, Geometrics-and physics-based 3D modeling and the Approach to on-field assessment, etc.
The Muralitharan Report produced by the University of Western Australia’s study has considered the Richards study done in 1999 to evaluate the error margin. University of South Australia‘s study done by Prof. Mahinda Pathegama argued that the Richards study which was presented by the University of Western Australia’s study has used a rigid aluminium bar that only rotated in the horizontal plane to introduce such error margin. Pathegama‘s report stated that “in view of the system used in the test itself yielding considerable error even with a rigid aluminum bar (an accuracy level of approximately 4 degrees as stated in the Murali Report), it stands to reason that the error margin would be considerably larger when tracking skin markers on a spin bowler’s moving upper limb by this same system”.
Vincent Barnes in an interview argues that Bruce Elliott, the UWA professor who is also the ICC biomechanist, had made an interesting discovery in his dealings with finger spinners. “He said he had found that a lot of bowlers from the subcontinent could bowl the doosra legally, but not Caucasian bowlers.”
Fourth round of testing
On 2 February 2006, Muralitharan underwent a fourth round of biomechanical testing at the University of Western Australia. There had been criticism that the previous round of tests in July 2004 did not replicate match conditions due to a slower bowling speed in the laboratory tests. The results showed that the average elbow extension while bowling the ‘doosra’ delivery was 12.2 degrees, at an average of 53.75 mph (86.50 km/h). The average for his off-break was 12.9 degrees at 59.03 mph (95.00 km/h).
Bowling with an arm brace
In July 2004 Muralitharan was filmed in England, bowling with an arm brace on. The film was shown on Britain’s Channel 4 during the Test against England on ;… When bowlers who to the naked eye look to have pure actions are thoroughly analysed with the sophisticated technology now in place, they are likely to be shown as straightening their arm by 11 and in some cases 12 degrees. Under a strict interpretation of the Law, these players are breaking the rules. The game needs to deal with this reality and make its judgment as to how it accommodates this fact.”
In May 2002, Adam Gilchrist, speaking at a Carlton (Australian) Football Club luncheon, claimed Muralitharan’s action does not comply with the laws of cricket. The Melbourne-based Age newspaper quoted Gilchrist as saying.”Yeah, I think he does (chuck), and I say that because, if you read the laws of the game, there’s no doubt in my mind that he and many others, throughout cricket history have.” These comments were made before the doosra controversy, in spite of Muralitharan’s action having been cleared by ICC in both 1996 and 1999. For his comment Gilchrist was reprimanded by the Australian Cricket Board (ACB) and found guilty of being in breach of ACB rules concerned with “detrimental public comment”.
During the 2006 tour of New Zealand another Muralitharan critic, former New Zealand captain and cricket commentator Martin Crowe, called for Muralitharan’s doosra to be monitored more closely, asserting that his action seemed to deteriorate during a match. Earlier that year when delivering the Cowdrey lecture at Lords Martin Crowe had demanded zero tolerance instead of 15 degrees for throwing and specifically branded Muttiah Muralitharan a chucker. In response to Crowe’s criticism ICC general manager Dave Richardson stated that the scientific evidence presented by biomechanists Professor Bruce Elliot, Dr Paul Hurrion and Mr Marc Portuswith was overwhelming and clarified that “Some bowlers, even those not suspected of having flawed actions, were found likely to be straightening their arms by 11 or 12 degrees. And at the same time, some bowlers that may appear to be throwing may be hyper-extending or bowl with permanently bent elbows. Under a strict interpretation of the law, they were breaking the rules – but if we ruled out every bowler that did that then there would be no bowlers left.”
Scientific research on bowling actions
Since 1999 there has been a number of scientific research publications discussing Muralitharan’s bowling action as well the need for defining the legality of a bowling action using biomechanical concepts. This research directly contributed towards the official acceptance of Muralitharan’s bowling action and convinced the ICC to redefine the bowling laws in cricket.
The key publications are listed below:
- Elliot, B.C., Alderson, J., Reid, S. and Foster, D. (2004). Bowling Report of Muttiah Muralitharan.
- Ferdinands, R.E.D. (2004). Three-dimensional biomechanical analysis of bowling in cricket. PhD Thesis, University of Waikato.
- Ferdinands, R.E.D. and Kersting, U.G. (2004). Elbow Angle Extension and implecation for the legality of the bowling action in Cricket. In A McIntosh (Ed.), Proceedings of Australasian Biomechanic Conference 5 (;26-27.
- Ferdinands, R.E.D. and Kersting, U.G. (2007). An evaluation of biomechanical measures of bowling action legality in cricket. Sports Biomechanics, Volume 6, Issue ;41-54.
Muralitharan, along with his manager Kushil Gunasekara, established the Foundation of Goodness, a charity organization, in the early 2000s. This organization is committed to the wellbeing of the Seenigama region (in southern Sri Lanka) and supports local communities through a range of projects across areas including children’s needs, education and training, health care and psycho-social support, housing, livelihoods, sport and the environment. Muralis Seenigama project raised funds from cricketers and administrators in England and Australia. Canadian pop-star Bryan Adams donated a swimming pool.
Muralitharan also plans to build a second sports complex for war-displaced civilians in Mankulam, a town located 300 kilometers from north of Colombo. The two-year one million dollar project aims to build a sports center, a school, English and IT training centers and an Elders’ home. While the Sports Complex remains the main project, Foundation of Goodness also plans to help educate children, youth and adults. English cricketer Sir Ian Botham visited Mankulam with Muralitharan, and later addressing the media in Colombo on 27 March 2011 said that he will consider a walk from Point Pedro (the extreme northern tip of Sri Lanka) to Dondra Head (the extreme southern tip of Sri Lanka) to raise funds for the project.
When the tsunami devastated Sri Lanka on ;http://blog.qnet.net/2010/07/congratulations-to-qnets-brand-ambassador-muralidaran-for-reaching-new-heights/>
International five-wicket hauls
Muralitharan took five or more wickets in an innings on 67 occasions in Test cricket, which is a world record. In comparison, Richard Hadlee who is in 2nd place performed the feat 41 times. Muralitharan has taken 22 Test ten-wicket hauls, which is more than twice of any one else in world cricket.
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Test 10 Wicket hauls
|1||12/117||35||Zimbabwe||Asgiriya Stadium||Kandy||Sri Lanka||1998|
|3||10/148||50||Pakistan||Arbab Niaz Stadium||Peshawar||Pakistan||2000|
|4||13/171||55||South Africa||Galle International Stadium||Galle||Sri Lanka||2000|
|5||11/161||58||South Africa||Kingsmead Cricket Ground||Durban||South Africa||2000|
|6||11/196||65||India||Sinhalese Sports Club Ground||Colombo||Sri Lanka||2001|
|7||10/111||66||Bangladesh||Sinhalese Sports Club Ground||Colombo||Sri Lanka||2001|
|8||11/170||67||West Indies||Galle International Stadium||Galle||Sri Lanka||2001|
|9||10/135||68||West Indies||Asgiriya Stadium||Kandy||Sri Lanka||2001|
|10||13/115||71||Zimbabwe||Asgiriya Stadium||Kandy||Sri Lanka||2002|
|11||10/98||76||Bangladesh||P Sara Oval||Colombo||Sri Lanka||2002|
|12||11/93||83||England||Galle International Stadium||Galle||Sri Lanka||2003|
|13||11/212||86||Australia||Galle International Stadium||Galle||Sri Lanka||2004|
|14||10/83||93||West Indies||Asgiriya Stadium||Kandy||Sri Lanka||2005|
|15||10/115||105||England||Edgbaston Cricket Ground||Birmingham||England||2006|
|16||11/132||106||England||Trent Bridge Cricket Ground||Nottingham||England||2006|
|17||10/172||107||South Africa||Sinhalese Sports Club Ground||Colombo||Sri Lanka||2006|
|18||12/225||108||South Africa||P Sara Oval||Colombo||Sri Lanka||2006|
|19||10/118||110||New Zealand||Basin Reserve||Wellington||New Zealand||2006|
|20||12/82||113||Bangladesh||Asgiriya Stadium||Kandy||Sri Lanka||2007|
|21||11/110||121||India||Sinhalese Sports Club Ground||Colombo||Sri Lanka||2008|
|22||10/190||124||Bangladesh||Shere Bangla National Stadium||Dhaka||Bangladesh||2008|
Only Sri Lankan to named ICC Hall of Fame.
Was named Wisden Cricketers of the Year 1999.
|Wisden Leading Cricketer in the World
|Wisden Leading Cricketer in the World
|World Record – Most Career Wickets in Test cricket
532 wickets (22.87) in 91 Tests
Held record 8 May 2004 to 15 October 2004
|World Record – Most Career Wickets in Test cricket
800 wickets (22.72) in 133 Tests
Has held the record since 3 December 2007
Current Record Holder
|World Record – Most Career Wickets in One Day International cricket
534 wickets (23.08) in 350 ODI
Has held the record since 5 February 2009
Current Record Holder
Man of match in Test cricket
Man of match in one day internationals
|Table: Man of match in one day internationals|
|Muttiah Muralitharan won 14 Man Of Match awards in one day internationals.|
|1||12 August 1993||India||Premadasa Stadium||DNB||1 for 38||0|
|2||28 September 1996||Kenya||Gymkhana Club Ground||DNB||4 for 18||0|
|3||20 August 1998||England||Lord’s||DNB||5 for 34||1|
|4||14 July 2000||South Africa||Premadasa Stadium||DNB||5 for 44||0|
|5||27 October 2000||India||Sharjah Stadium||DNB||7 for 30||1|
|6||31 January 2001||New Zealand||McLean Park||*1||5 for 30||1|
|7||23 March 2001||England||Rangiri Dambulla Std||DNB||4 for 29||1|
|8||18 May 2003||Pakistan||Rangiri Dambulla Std||19||5 for 23||1|
|9||7 June 2003||West Indies||Kensington Oval||3||3 for 17||0|
|10||20 October 2006||New Zealand||Brabourne Stadium||DNB||4 for 23||0|
|11||23 March 2007||India||Queen’s Park||DNB||3 for 41||2|
|12||20 November 2008||Zimbabwe||Harare Sports Club||DNB||4 for 14||0|
|13||30 November 2008||Zimbabwe||Harare Sports Club||5||5 for 29||0|
|14||30 July 2009||Pakistan||Rangiri Dambulla Std||32||2 for 46||1|