real Muralitharan saga
By S.R. Pathiravithana
When a man builds a house he lives in that for the rest of his life
oblivious to anyone. However, when a man builds a palace he tries
to live in it but he only accumulates envious foes that would go
to any length to bring down that palace.
the very beginning of his career if Muttiah Muralitharan showed
only mediocre talents and faded away after a couple of Tests, may
be that Darrel Hair would have saved his breadth during the 1995
boxing-day Test between Australia and Sri Lanka and also a saved
a lot a trauma on himself in the aftermath. However his best selling
book wouldn't have had enough spicy substance in it.
that Australia would have had the honour of producing the greatest
spinner of all time in Shane Warne in spite of him shaming himself
with a drug scandal and also being slapped with a farcical one year
ban from all types cricket. (All other athletes who were charged
with the same offence received bans of much more than one year and
their return to sport at the same level was made rather bleak).
now the stage is set, Muralitharan was cleared by the World Body
of Cricket and he went on to be named the " Wisden's best bowler
of all time”. Now he is challenging white supremacy and is
on a race to the final post to become the bowler with the most number
of wickets in the history of the game when both Warne and he pass
the haul of 519 wickets taken by the West Indian great Courteny
amusingly when ever Australia is engaged in a Test series against
Sri Lanka from somewhere 'Jack jumps out of the box 'and the whole
drama of 1995 is re-enacted. However not by any one involved in
the middle, but, their cricketing acolytes who are quite known to
shoot their mouths out when they can get the most amount of publicity.
This also has happened at a time when the ICC has pronounced that
they are hoping to have a re-look at all the slow bowlers with suspect
actions. Is this a ploy to influence the judges?
get to the bottom of this episode The Sunday Times went to the most
authentic source that could give the insight to the behind the scene
happenings on that fateful day in 1995. We went to none other than
Ana Punchihewa who was the incumbent President of the BCCSL in 1995.
asked what his initial reaction was when Murali was called by Darrel
Hair and what transpired thereafter Ana Punchihewa said "First
of all I couldn't have any initial reactions because I was in hospital
in Melbourne, just a few yards away from the grounds, but, that
particular day I did not know anything as I had 105 degree fever.
Anyway in Australia they do not show the proceedings in the State
that the match is played and I did not know any thing, which took
place on the grounds that day.
Then things started rolling the next morning at 7 or 8 when I woke
up. There were Duleep (Mendis) Dav (Whatmore) Arjuna or Aravinda
in front of me. I thought that they had come to see me in hospital,
but they came out and said they had a problem. In the first Test
among the controversies there was this ball-tampering problem and
we were not going to play the second Test and we managed to get
an apology from the ICC and the tour stood on. When I inquired,
they said we now have another problem…. and then I went on
Oh! No not again …… what happened this time and they
said that Murali has been called for chucking and then they inquired
from me what they should do? …. Shall we not continue with
the game? Then I said, don't do that now…continue with the
game, there are so many things to check then we will take appropriate
we contacted the then CEO Anura Tennekone (if I remember right)
and inquired what course of action could be taken and what should
be done. Straightaway Anura got moving and contacted Dr. Buddy Reid,
and he advised us to go to the Western Australia University and
that is where Darrel Foster is and asked us to do a scientific,
Medical Examination of Mural and his action. We were asked to get
these verified first, then at the same time we were asked by the
then sports minister to contact a Sri Lankan doctor residing in
Hong Kong. So initially we got those criteria completed.
in the aftermath the match referees report went, then I told Anura
that we also should send in a report. We sent in our report, and
told the ICC it is not fair, at present you look at only one side
of the story and requested them to look at what we have say too,
without being at the mercy of the match referee and the umpire.
this time we had analysed the tapes showing Murali being called
then Darrel Foster also had analysed them and given his report and
we forwarded all our findings and requested the ICC that they should
form a committee and analyse this from a players point of view.
It is only after that suggestion that the ICC formed the committee
that analyses bowling actions. It came about that both sides are
heard, and not only one side."
main fear at that time was that he would be called again at the
World Cup ( in which Sri Lankan ended up as champions ) So we wanted
some kind of assurance that he would not be called at this juncture,
but, no one could give any assurance because the rule says it is
up to the particular umpire to call a bowler if he feels that this
particular bowler's action is illegal. But, anyway we named Murali
in the final fourteen in the World Cup squad. In one of flights
with the team I made it a point to sit next to this umpire who was
going to stand at the first match Murali was to bowl during the
World Cup and off hand I just inquired if he intended calling Murali
during this game. To our satisfaction the umpire was of the view
that Murali does not throw and he did not intend calling him. This
match was very important to us in the World Cup as once a bowler
is not called it is very difficult for another to call him in the
same tournament." "Then of course the recommendation of
the committee who sat on this cleared Murali, saying that on the
evidence presented Murali was not chucking so, that recommendation
still stands ".
asked as to why from time to time persons involved with the game
in some capacity talk about the legality of Murali's action and
that too at very crucial times like when he on course for the post
of history's highest wicket taker Ana Punchihewa replied,.. "All
I can say is this debate will go on for ever I can not see it closing
up. It will get worse once he takes his 500th wicket and even worse
when passes Courteny Walsh's. Even Wisden has named him as the Best
bowler ever. What else do you need to prove that his action is legitimate
and he is the best bowler produced in cricket.
are certain writers and people like Bishen Bedi who come up from
time to time, though always this comes up just before some series,
funny, Bedi came up just before the Australian tour, and now this
person ( referring to an article written by Tedd Corbet in the Sports
Star Magazine) during the Australian tour. Everybody has his own
agenda." Said Punchihewa in conclusion not before he agreed
that these accusations mostly come from the Australian continent
and England barring the utterances of Bishen Bedi had been made