Couple of articles by in defense of Murali..........
First by Peter Roebuck, easily the most balanced sports reporter in Australia. Surprise! Surprise! he's English.
It is interesting considering Dennis Lillee's recent cheap shot against Murali about not touring Australia, we now find out that Lillee himself never toured India. What hypocrisy! Then again it's probably not surprising since just about every verbal attack on Murali emanating from Australia has been hypocritical and non fact-based. Cheap wickets Dennis? so wickets and runs against minnows are cheap for everyone or just Murali?....
Murali not the first to decline invitation
By Peter Roebuck -
Muttiah Muralitharran is not the first man ever to decline an invitation to play cricket for his country. Nor is he the first sportsman ever to pick and choose his destinations. Some of his sharpest critics suffer from short memories. It is not so long ago that cricket was devastated by rebel tours arranged by senior players for monetary purposes and without any regard of the consequences for the game that had nurtured them. Moreover, English and Australian players have often withdrawn from trips that did not appeal to them. Accordingly Murali has no reason to bow his head. Nor need he bother listening to the condemnations of foreigners suffering from amnesia.
In the 1970's some Australians seemed reluctant to appear on the subcontinent. Don Bradman did not set foot in cricket-mad Mumbai. Dennis Lillee did not bowl a ball in India, though this land of lassis and rickshaws has become his second home. Greg Chappell repeatedly withdrew from inconvenient tours, leaving the brilliant but hapless Kim Hughes wearing the crown of thorns. Now he is helping to coach the Pakistanis. The world is a funny old place.
Amongst Englishmen, Geoff Boycott notoriously refused to turn out for his country in hours of need and was once sent home from India after playing golf when he was supposed to be recuperating. England did not visit the region at all for years and is widely suspected of maintaining a patronising outlook towards the inhabitants. Everyone carries some baggage.
Murali was entitled to weigh up the merits of playing a couple of Test matches in Australia. He has given excellent service over many years and is entitled to a certain latitude. Doubtless he has been under strain and pines for a quieter life. Cricketers are not machines that spring into action at the press of a button. They have arms and legs and emotions.
A man needs to be at his best to run the Australian gauntlet. Presumably Murali has been exhausted by the hero-worship and controversy that have assailed him over the last few months. He is made of flesh and blood . Nothing prepared him for his current confusing status, not even experiences as a boarder in a Catholic school where life does have its ups and downs. At the same time he is the holder of one of cricket's most valued records and an outcast.
Most sportsmen yearn to command the respect of contemporaries as well as the affection of the crowd. The sadness of Murali's career has been that the former ingredient has been denied and he is sustained only by the cheers of his own fanatical supporters. Yet his action has never been condemned outright. Even Darrell Hair only called a few deliveries in a single match. He had seen him before, and passed him. He was entitled to expect more from a game that has allowed him to keep playing whilst simultaneously murmuring its disapproval.
Inevitably Shane Warne was not afraid to voice his view of the matter. Before anyone condemns Warne on the grounds that he is chasing the record held by the Sri Lankan, let it be confirmed that the Australian is entitled to his opinion and that there is some merit in his point. Murali is sensitive and accordingly vulnerable to attack by word or deed. All the more reason the top praise his extraordinary achievements. By attacking his contemporary, Warne broke what remains of the spinner's code. He might care to remember that spin was on its last legs before this pair of likely lads appeared on the scene.
Murali can take a break but he cannot hide forever. Sooner or later he must emerge from his tent and resume bowling. It is not as if something shameful has happened. He has taken more wickets than anyone else in the history of Test cricket and all of his deliveries except one have been accepted. He needs to think constructively about himself and his contribution to the game . Most of all he needs to accept the umpire's decision even when it goes against him for that is cricket's basic discipline.
Rather than complain about the ousting of his surprise ball as it is currently sent down, he must focus upon his lawful deliveries and try to correct the flaws that have crept into his favourite creation. In the past the doosra has not attracted as much attention. In those days it was not as dangerous because it did not turn from leg. Presumably this top-spinner can be restored and included in his armoury. Above all Murali must return as a champion. he must bowl aggressively and without regret. Champions fight back.. Warne cannot any longer bowl his flipper, googly or sharpest leg-break but he is still a power in the game.
Murali is not finished unless he thinks himself down. he deserves a rest but must then return with the same combination of determination and humour that have been admired by people he does not know and in places he has not visited.
and a another one.......
Muralitharan bowls Aussies a 'Teesra'
By Sunil Vasudeva writing to thatscricket.com
Just as expected, Muralitharan has firmly decided not to tour Australia this year. Cricket Australia's (CA) James Sutherland had hoped that Murali would have "doosra" (second) thoughts, but Murali tweaked a "teesra" on the Aussies with his recent decision. If Stuart MacGill refused to tour Zimbabwe for "conscience" reasons, so can Murali.
This undue harassment of cricket players has to come to a screeching halt. Otherwise, we may see this tactic being repeated by those who are scared of facing certain bowlers or bowling to certain batsmen.
India's recent tour of Pakistan is a case in point. Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf was keenly aware of the "second thoughts" the Indian cricketers would have had if their security concerns were not addressed. What did he do? He made sure that his Indian guests were accorded the same level of security that he got. General Musharraf did not use this as a platform to weed out the Indian team so that his countrymen could have a cakewalk of a win in the series by playing against a India 'A' team. Way to go Mr President! You were a gracious host!
India won both the Test and the One-day series and Mr Musharraf even had his Indian guests over for what was more than just a token meal. His guests were treated like royalty. He was even agreeable to India sending their own security checking team to make sure it met their needs!
Now compare this with what the Aussies "dished out" to the Sri Lankans, definitely not what one could call a tasty meal. The whole platform for souring the series was given its rollicking start by the Aussie PM himself! To add to that, umpires vented their feelings out at interviews that they would not be hesitant to call Murali for chucking. The umpires should not air such prejudices openly which is tantamount to a juror going public before the trial has begun to say that the person being tried is guilty!
Understandably, this is way too much pressure on a single player. Could such prejudice even go to the point where the maligned player is not ensured proper security unlike his teammates? Who says that cannot happen? If a Head of State can start the ball of bias rolling, there is no telling what can happen!
Murali has his supporters and detractors too. But, never have we seen it come to this point before. Many felt that in his heydays, Sunil Gavaskar was a painfully slow batter, but did anyone use that to harass him from touring a country. No! Chandrasekhar was unplayable many times, did politicians of the opposing teams nations use that to harass him from touring. No! So, why such an approach is being used now? Is it because they know that the august body has fewer teeth than it once had? What can we expect next from the Aussies?
While Steve Waugh has said that Murali did not need the "doosra" to be a good bowler and Adam Gilchrist wished Murali to continue on, the one who really should be consoling Murali, the Aussie PM, is surprisingly mute on the matter. With his remarks, he has succeeded in bullying Muttiah Muralitharan, to 'Mute'tiah Muralitharan! Who will be his (Mr PM's) next victim? Don't be surprised if it is Harbhajan "Turbanator" Singh! While the "Turbanator" title came as a form of respect from the Aussie press that is no guarantee that those in power agree with those plaudits.
So, will Mr PM come forward and apologize to Murali? Players visiting from abroad are like ambassadors from their respective nations and they should be accorded proper respect. Brett Lee was cleared of chucking allegations not too long ago. Have we seen him being dragged into that same mire again? No. So, what makes Murali a scapegoat? We certainly hope not the colour of his skin! He is not a child of a lesser god; let's get that fact straight! Or do some need to be re-educated.
In the interim, here's wishing Murali a well deserved rest. Maybe by then his "doosra" will be cleared, but as Steve Waugh said, "Murali does not need the 'doosra' to be an effective bowler."
On a different note, congratulations to England for there 3 - 0 win over the Kiwis and their new found third ranking in the ICC Test table! They have a first class cricket format that is the goal of almost every cricketer to play in. I personally hope that the English will not use their new 'visa' laws unfairly to their advantage against the touring teams by singling out players they know would be a force to reckon with. That just would not be cricket!