Published: 2010
Pages: 95
Author: Bandar, Sampath
Publisher: Godage International Publishers Ltd
Rating: 2.5 stars


One aspect of cricket book publishing that has surprised me for a number of years is the lack of a biography of Test cricket’s leading wicket taker, Muttiah Muralitharan. It has been a while now since Murali retired but he was, of course, a controversial figure as well as having a prodigious appetite for wickets and, despite the smile that he almost always wore on his face, his was clearly not an entirely happy career. I had always assumed that one day a major publisher would be tempted to produce the story, but have been waiting in vain.

I always thought that one of the reasons why I was disappointed was, perhaps, that Murali simply wasn’t interested in telling his own story. That, of course, would be no disincentive to a biographer but perhaps all along, this little book has been part of the reason. I must confess to not infrequently trawling the internet for the rare and obscure, but despite that this one completely escaped my notice and recently seeing a copy in a dealer’s catalogue was the first inkling I had of the book’s existence. I can only assume that the Sri Lankan publishing industry hides its light under the proverbial bushel. I wonder if there are other cricket publications that I may have missed from the island nation on the subject of its cricket and cricketers?

The difficulty with Murali is clear from a first impression as it is only 95 pages long. It is not a small format book but the font is a generous size. As many as sixteen of those pages are taken up with some admittedly useful statistics, and one thing that can certainly be said in the book’s favour is that it is well illustrated and those fifty or so images occupy a large part of what is left.

In the circumstances the narrative contact of Murali is rather brief and to the point with little in the way of quotes or opinions whether from the author or others. Nonetheless Murali undoubtedly deserves to be called a biography. There are paragraphs about its subject’s background, childhood and his earliest days, albeit that information is imparted with considerable brevity and without elaboration. All of the major highs and lows of Murali’s career are then mentioned as author Bandara takes a chronological look through the controversial bowler’s life.

Given that Bandara is a full-time sports journalist who has written other books it is perhaps disappointing that he did not choose to write a more substantial volume on his subject although, of course, I know not what his publisher’s requirements might have been. It is however clear from the author’s introduction that there was at least some cooperation on the part of Murali and his manager so there could have been much material available to take the book well beyond a simple record of Murali’s achievements. There is also an interesting foreword from Sidath Wettimuny, but no indication that the author has spent any significant amount of time discussing Murali with either his teammates or opponents.

In the circumstances I feel unable to rate the book beyond 2.5 stars but, being the only book there is on the game’s leading wicket taker Murali is certainly not without merit and the photographs are good, as are the production values, and if the statistics are not particularly comprehensive they are certainly interestingly presented and contain some information that is not easily available elsewhere.

Leave a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until they have been approved

More articles by Martin Chandler