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Muttiah Muralitharan

25 May, 2006

Averaging nearly six wickets per Test, Muttiah Muralitharan is one of the most successful bowlers in the game, the greatest player in Sri Lanka's history, and without doubt the most controversial cricketer of the modern age.

Full name: Muttiah Muralitharan
Born: April 17, 1972, Kandy
Current age :34 years 179 days
Major teams: Sri Lanka, ACC Asian XI, ICC World XI, Kent, Lancashire, Tamil Union Cricket and Athletic Club
Batting style :Right-hand bat
Bowling style: Right-arm offbreak

Statsguru Test player, ODI player


 Batting and fielding averages
class  mat  inns  no  runs  hs  ave  bf  sr  100  50  4s  6s  ct  st
Tests   108   140   49   1095   67   12.03   1580   69.30   0   1   125   24   59   0
ODIs   278   130   49   477   27   5.88   683   69.83   0   0   31   6   111   0
First-class   199   245   71   1968   67   11.31         0   1         109   0
List A   354   163   61   652   27   6.39         0   0         131   0
Twenty20   5   2   1   16   9   16.00   10   160.00   0   0         2   0

 Bowling averages
class  mat  balls  runs  wkts  bbi  bbm  ave  econ  sr  4  5  10
Tests   108   36139   14432   657   9/51   16/220   21.96   2.39   55.00   38   56   18
ODIs   278   15187   9750   419   7/30   7/30   23.26   3.85   36.24   10   8   0
First-class   199   56678   22297   1180   9/51      18.89   2.36   48.03      103   30
List A   354   18948   11888   530   7/30   7/30   22.43   3.76   35.75   12   10   0
Twenty20   5   102   90   10   4/19   4/19   9.00   5.29   10.20   1   0   0

 Career statistics
Statsguru Tests filter | Statsguru One-Day Internationals filter
Test debut  Sri Lanka v Australia at Colombo (RPS) - Aug 28-Sep 2, 1992 scorecard
Last Test  Sri Lanka v South Africa at Colombo (PSS) - Aug 4-8, 2006 scorecard
ODI debut  Sri Lanka v India at Colombo (RPS) - Aug 12, 1993 scorecard
Last ODI  Sri Lanka v Zimbabwe at Ahmedabad - Oct 10, 2006 scorecard
First-class span  1989/90 - 2006
List A span  1991/92 - 2006/07
Twenty20 span  2005

Wisden Cricketer of the Year 1999


Muralitharan's rise from humble beginnings, being the Tamil son of a hill-country confectioner, to the top of the wicket-takers' list in Test cricket has divided the cricket world in the past decade because of his weird bent-arm bowling action.

He bowls marathon spells, yet is forever on the attack. From a loose-limbed, open-chested action, his chief weapons are the big-spinning offbreak and two versions of the top-spinner, one of which goes straight on and the other, which has now been labelled his doosra, which spins in the opposite direction to his stock ball. His newest variation is a version of Shane Warne's slider, which is flicked out the side of his hand and rushes onto batsmen like a flipper. His super-flexible wrist makes him especially potent and guarantees him turn on any surface.

His career has been beset with controversy from the start. Suspicions about his action were whispered soon after his debut against the Australians in 1993 and then aired freely after he was called for throwing while touring Australia in 1995-96, first in the Boxing Day Test at Melbourne by Darrel Hair and later in the one-day series that followed. He was cleared by the ICC after biomechanical analysis at the University of Western Australia and at the University of Hong Kong in 1996. They concluded that his action created the `optical illusion of throwing'.

But the controversy did not die away. He was called again on the 1998-99 tour to Australia, this time by Ross Emerson. Muralitharan was sent for further tests in Perth and England and was cleared again. However, the perfection of his doosra prompted further suspicion and at the end of a prolific three-match home series against Australia in March 2004 he was reported by ICC match referee Chris Broad. More high-tech tests followed, and ultimately forced the ICC to seriously look into the entire issue of throwing in international cricket, which revealed that many bowlers bend their arms during delivery, and that Murali might have been made an unfair victim. On the field, Murali continued to pile on the wickets, overtaking Courtney Walsh's 519-wicket world record to become the highest wicket-taker in Test history in May 2004.

It is unlikely that Muralitharan's career will ever be controversy-free, a fact that he now accepts. But the rapid progress of technology and sports science in the past decade has undoubtedly salvaged his reputation. Many previous high-profile doubters are now admitting that Muralitharan has been unjustly persecuted for having an abnormal action. Having recovered from the shoulder surgery kept him out of the game for the last part of 2004, Murali is ready to add to his already imposing tally. At the rate he is accumulating wickets, a Test tally in excess of 700 seems eminently achievable.

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