The Murali Controversy: Or Is It A Conspiracy?
By Raj Gonsalkorale
The "Asia Tribune" is usually dedicated mostly to political matters, and not sports. However, when politics, especially dirty politics and blatant racism enters sports, it is time to air oneâ€™s views in this forum.
The latest issue confronting cricket and Muttiah Muralitheran is the action taken by former New Zealand cricket captain Martin Crowe to report Murali to the International Cricket Conference or ICC for possible violation of the arm bending rule when bowling.
Mahela Jayawaredena, the Sri Lankan cricket captain has stoutly defended Murali and what he has said has been reported in the Sri Lankan news papers and some New Zealand news papers.
Crowe has stated that Muraliâ€™s and other bowlers actions that have been reviewed and given the green light by the ICC should be subject to an annual review thereafter. On the face of it, it does not appear that this is too much to ask as some bowlers who have had problems with their actions and have had them corrected, could very well, at least occasionally, revert to their suspect actions deliberately or otherwise and bowl illegal balls (illegal by ICC rules). The difference in Muraliâ€™s case is that he does not bend his arm, and that it is permanently bent from birth and the appearance of bending is an illusion depending on the angle one looks at his arm movement. This has been concluded unequivocally by the ICC, not once, several times.
So why is that someone somewhere is always taking a sniper shot at Murali? Why is that this greatest of all off spin bowlers of all time and certainly one of the top two spin bowlers of all time (along with Shane Warne), and one of the best bowlers in the world today is constantly being hounded by some vulture somewhere even after crickets highest body, the ICC, has tested the man fully, sent him to all known medical specialists, and ruled, via panels of top class international cricketers, that he has an arm different to you and I from birth, that the appearance of arm bending beyond how much it is bent by birth is an illusion and that he â€œDoes Not Throw.â€
Most readers interested in cricket would know that the ICC law in regard to the extent a bowler is permitted to â€œbendâ€ his arm has been extended so as to allow most of the worlds top bowlers from all cricketing nations to occasionally bend their arms, as the ICC found that most of these bowlers were occasionally bending them anyway, not just Muralitharan. This was established by the ICC after filming the bowling actions of these bowlers and it was not done to accommodate Murali as some of these vultures might be whispering in pubs and other places. Muraliâ€™s congenital defect and the resultant permanent bent is also now within the ICC law. When this ruling was made by the ICC, everyone thought that Murali would be free of sniper fire. We were wrong. Another ugly head has risen from amongst cricketers whom most thought were some of the fairest cricketers in the world.
One can only wonder whether this cricketer was induced in some way or the other to report Murali once again to the ICC. One can also only wonder whether this cricketer would have made his complaint should Murali been playing for New Zealand and not Sri Lanka and had skittled out Sri Lanka instead of New Zealand in Wellington during the last test match played there.
It may or may not be a co incidence, but nearly all the cricketers who have complained about Muraliâ€™s action have been white. It is strange that perhaps except for Bishen Bedi from India, to my knowledge, no non white cricketer has made any complaints against Murali. It is also strange that no white bowlers actions have even been as scrutinized as have been that of Murali and some other non white cricketers. This is as if to say that all white bowlers bowl with perfect actions and that only non white bowlers have problems with theirs. Bringing a racist under tone to the Murali controversy is not a pleasant thing, but it has to be said considering how isolated white bowlers have been from controversy and how involved non white bowlers have been in controversy. It simply cannot be logical to say the colour of the skin has something to do with a legal and an illegal bowling action, But thatâ€™s what is evident considering the fact that white bowlers have been immune from any other cricketer accusing them of bowling illegal balls and being constantly scrutinized as have been non white bowlers. Surely all these cricketers are human beings with red blood arenâ€™t they?
Shane Warne, most definitely the worldâ€™s greatest leg spinner ever and along with Murali, the greatest spin bowlers of all time, has just announced his retirement from international and domestic cricket after the 5th test against England in Sydney. Shane Warne has taken 699 test wickets and is the highest all time wicket taker in test cricket. He is bound to break the 700 wicket test wicket haul before Sydney. Shane Warneâ€™s retirement announcement was headline news in many cricketing nations, deservedly so.
His record however will be short lived as Murali is only 24 wickets behind Warne. It is not the record that matters. What matters is Shane Warneâ€™s bowling ability and what he has brought to Australian cricket and to world cricket in general. He will be surpassed by Murali, and who knows, Murali might be surpassed by some other great bowler in time. That however should not take away the fact that like Warne, Murali is a great bowler and he has, like Warne, made a difference to the sport in Sri Lanka and in the world. Unlike Warne however, who has not been unlucky to have had a birth deformity and therefore no controversy regarding his bowling action, Murali will have to live with the controversy created by his detractors, snipers and vultures simply because he was born with a deformity and he happens to be playing for poor Sri Lanka and not New Zealand or Australia or England. If he was playing for any of these countries, he would have been a greater hero than Shane Warne and there would have been none of this controversy about his action.
The conspiracy is therefore to deprive Murali his due place in history as the greatest spin bowler of all time.
- Asian Tribune -