Firstly it's with a little apprehension that I created this thread. I was going to post this in the Warne vs. Murali thread, however, it was shut down and probably rightfully so. Mentioning Murali seems to intice stupid comments from people who don't like him. Criticising him, which I will do, incites even worse reactions. It's never happened to me, but I've seen people being called "racist" when they criticise Murali... I guess people look at his stats and figure saying he's anything other than brilliant has to be racial. Anyway I'm writing this first paragraph in hope that this thread will produce productive discussion.
My question is, if you look at Murali's record outside of Sri Lanka... does he really compare to some of the greatest bowlers ever?
Now I should mention I think Murali's a great bowler, no question. But something I read recently sparked my curiosity. I noticed Murali had Anil Kumble-like figures outside of Sri Lanka. When I read here (http://www.muralifans.com/Subpages/N...3_07_01_06.htm)
that Murali had an average of around 27 against Zimbabwe in away games, I thought that had to be wrong. It wasn't... his international record against Zimbabwe shows him as having an average of around 27.
I think when we judge cricketers, we shouldn't judge them solely on figures. The best judge is the amount of games they impacted. Has Murali actually impacted that many games against teams while he was away?
People talk about him having an advantage on dusty pitches. All bowlers have conditions they bowl best in. I've seen the best struggle in conditions that don't suit them. I have to say though, Murali's advantage seems to be the biggest of all prolific wicket-takers. No bowler that I know of has such a big difference in average when they're bowling on unsuiting wickets. Anybody suggesting pitch conditions aren't a factor are wrong.
Now again, I like Murali and he's great. Taking 9 wickets against England is an example of him rocking up in away games, and I'm not discounting him from being a big factor in away games. But is it unreasonable to think that in most of his international games, he wasn't great. If he played for a country outside of the sub-continent... what do you think his figures would look like? I've seen teams play him in Sri Lanka and it's as defensive as you can imagine. Batsmen not going for shots for fear of how the wicket works. I mean there is a serious difference.
Right now I'm questioning him and he may not even be better than say... Glenn McGrath. I'd take Murali over McGrath right now. But guys like Akram could do it anywhere... Murali has a terrible record overseas by his career standard. My style of reviewing cricketers is to look at their record of impacting games... how many games do Sri Lanka win away from their home? Murali's such a key player and a big reason why Sri Lanka rock in Sri Lanka. Is Murali really one of the five greatest bowlers ever when his record away from Sri Lanka doesn't speak well for him?
I don't know... I haven't decided yet, but I really think this is a factor that, while not being overlooked, is forgotten in it's magnitude. It's such a big difference away from home. He's done good in the West Indies and England though.
And please, lets have a good discussion here. Nobody's saying Murali isn't great. He's a joy to watch... and perhaps we shouldn't mention the name "Warne" in this thread. This is solely about Murali.