The hustling run-up, inquisitive eyes, peculiar release, innumerable revolutions on the red cherry ,the crazy turn it undergoes on the pitch, the shake of the timber, a baffled batsman and an everlasting grin on the face of the architect will all be missed now that Muttiah Muralitharan has bid adieu to Test Cricket.
To be honest I was of the opinion that he would make the same mistake Kapil Dev did – Prolong his career for the sake of a record and get banged by debutants and lose the command over a glittering career. But that was not to be. Murali made a very good decision to quit setting an 800 in mind , an 8 in mind for his final test and conquering the frontier in fairytale style.
It made me feel happy to read the heaps of praises & tributes from the likes of Shane Warne, Wasim Akram, Arjuna Ranatunga – The man who stood by Murali in the toughest of times. If there was only one guy who deserved all the praise – it was Muralitharan. To be the most prolific bowler in Test and ODI history is no mean feat. But he has bettered that reaching a tally that nobody feels would ever be conquered. So his records would stay for an eternity – atleast the tally of 800 in tests.
I have to agree that I have been a bigger fan of Warne than of Murali and have always chosen the Warne side of the Murali-Warne lunchtime debates for reasons that Warne had dominated quality oppositions;not that Murali had not. He had a bagful of wickets in the subcontinent and also against minnows like Bangladesh. He was second, but not a distant second in my list. But that list was just about skills.When it comes to a list on behavior on/off the field, Muralitharan would be right on top with no superstar cricketer staying anywhere close to him. People might say Kumble was humble. If Kumble was humble, Muralitharan was a saint! I have never seen him hold grudge against any batsman – even if it was very much justifiable for him to do so considering the kind of reception he received in Australia every time he was there after Darrell Hair called him for chucking. He enjoys his wickets very much but what he shows is just happiness, not the insane irate stuff we get to see off a Harbhajan Singh who too has had his share from the Aussies.
“You can’t say they did the wrong thing.In their minds, they thought what I did was wrong.There is a fair trial and I passed that”.
How well did he pass the embarrassing biometric tests that made it look Cricket belonged to Australia like how it belongs to India.
Muralitharan’s humility goes to a point of being faulty when he says
“At the end of the day it’s a game and people come and go.Someone will replace me and do something similar”.
I would say that is possible only if Christopher Nolan, with his Cobb, goes and plants this idea into the minds of everybody following cricket and makes someone hit the 801 in their dreams.