Muralitharan is Test cricket's highest wicket-taker, having overtaken the previous record-holder Shane Warne on 3 December 2007. Muralitharan had held the record before when he surpassed West Indies' Courtney Walsh's 519 wickets in 2004. But he suffered a shoulder injury later that year and was then overtaken by Warne. He is also second in the list of wicket-takers in One Day Internationals.
Averaging over six wickets per Test, Muralitharan is one of the most successful bowlers in the game and the greatest player in Sri Lanka's history. He plays domestic cricket for the Tamil Union Cricket and Athletic Club, and county cricket for Lancashire as an overseas player.
Muralitharan's career has been beset with controversy; his bowling action called into question on a number of occasions by umpires and sections of the cricket community. After biomechanical analysis in non-match conditions, Muralitharan's action was cleared by the International Cricket Council, first in 1996 and again in 1999. The legality of his doosra was first called into question in 2004. This delivery was found to exceed the ICC elbow extension limit of five degrees, assigned for spinners at that time. Based on of official studies into bowling actions, the International Cricket Council revised the elbow flexion limits applying to all bowlers in 2005. Muralitharan's doosra falls within the revised limits.
Muralitharan was left out of the one-day touring squad to West Indies in early 2008, leading to speculation that he may be focusing on Test cricket in the future whilst Sri Lanka built a younger squad for One Day Internationals.
When he was nine years old Muralitharan was sent to St.Anthony’s College, Kandy, a private school run by Benedictine monks. He began his cricketing career as a medium pace bowler but on the advice of his school coach, Sunil Fernando, he took up off spin when he was fourteen years old. He soon impressed and went on to play for four years in the school First XI. In those days he played as an all-rounder and batted in the middle order. In his final two seasons at St Anthony's College he took over one hundred wickets and in 1990/1 was named as the 'Bata Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year'. After leaving school he joined Tamil Union Cricket and Athletic Club and was selected for the Sri Lanka A tour of England in 1991. He played in five games but failed to capture a single wicket. On his return to Sri Lanka he impressed against Allan Border's Australian team in a practice game and then went on to make his Test debut at R. Premadasa Stadium in the Second Test Match of the series.
When his grandfather died at the age of 104 in July 2004, Muralitharan returned home from a tour of India to attend his funeral. Periyasamy Sinasamy's first wish to see Muralitharan claiming the world record for the most Test wickets was realised (passing the record set by Courtney Walsh), but not his desire to live to see his grandson married. Muralitharan's grandmother had passed away one month earlier at the age of 97. Muralitharan's manager, Kushil Gunasekera stated that "Murali's family is closely knit and united. They respect traditional values. The late grandfather enjoyed a great relationship with Murali.
Muralitharan married Madhimalar Ramamurthy, an Indian national, on 21 March 2005. Madhimalar is the daughter of late Dr S. Ramamurthy of Malar Hospitals, and his wife Dr Nithya Ramamurthy. Their first child, Naren, was born in January 2006.
The first day cover involving Muralitharan bears an official seal captioned as "The highest wicket taker in Test cricket, MUTHIAH MURALIDARAN, First Day of Issue 03.12.2007, Camp Post Office, Asgiriya International Cricket Stadium, Kandy".
The name Muralitharan means "the bearer of the flute", which is a synonym for Lord Krishna, who used to play upon his bamboo flute while looking after his cattle.
Muralitharan is the first wrist-spinning offspinner in the history of the game. He bowls marathon spells, yet he is usually on the attack. His unique bowling action begins with an open-chested short run-up, and culminates with an extremely wristy release which had him mistaken for a leg-spinner early in his career by Allan Border. Aside from his off break, his main deliveries are a fast topspinner which goes straight on, and the doosra, a surprise delivery which turns from leg to off (the opposite direction of his stock delivery) with no easily discernible change of action. 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.
Since his debut in 1992, Muralitharan has taken over 750 Test wickets and over 475 One Day International wickets, becoming the first player to take 1,000 wickets combined in the two main forms of international cricket.
The youthful Muralitharan went from strength to strength, playing a major part in Sri Lanka's back-to-back Test victories against England and New Zealand in 1992-93. It was at this point in his career that he struck a close bond with his leader, mentor and one time business partner, the authoritative captain Arjuna Ranatunga. This relationship formed the bedrock of his success and meant that there were few doubts about his status as the team's sole wicket-taker. Ranatunga was thoroughly convinced that Muralitharan's precocious talent would signal a new era in Sri Lanka's short Test history. In August 1993 at Moratuwa, Muralitharan captured 5 for 104 in South Africa's first innings, his first five-wicket haul in Tests. His wickets include Kepler Wessels, Hansie Cronje and Jonty Rhodes.
Muralitharan has continued to baffle batsman outside the shores of Sri Lanka, irrespective of the team's performance. In Sri Lanka's humiliating drubbing at the hands of India in 1993-94, where all three Tests were innings defeats, Muralitharan was the sole success, with 12 wickets in the rubber. His perseverance in the face of some astronomical scores by the fearsome quartet of Mohammed Azharuddin, Sachin Tendulkar, Navjot Sidhu and Vinod Kambli was in sharp contrast to the submission with which his team-mates played the series.
It was in New Zealand in March 1995 that Muralitharan displayed his qualities as a match-winner on any surface. In Sri Lanka's first triumph on foreign soil, Muralitharan confused the crease-bound New Zealanders on a grassy pitch in Dunedin. The Sri Lankan manager Duleep Mendis' claim that Muralitharan can turn the ball on concrete was confirmed. On the eve of his tour of Pakistan later that year, doubts were cast on his ability to trouble subcontinental batsmen. By taking 19 wickets in the series and delivering a historic 2-1 victory, the off-spinner silenced the doubters. The Pakistanis, who had negotiated Warne's leg-breaks in the previous home series, were never at ease against him.
Prior to the eventful Boxing Day test of 1995, Muralitharan had captured 80 wickets in 22 tests at an unflattering average of 32.74. Even at that point in his career he was the leading wicket taker for Sri Lanka having gone past Rumesh Ratnayake's aggregate of 73 wickets.
The drama unfolded midway through the second session of play. Muralitharan had bowled two overs before lunch from umpire Steve Dunne's or the Members' End of the ground with umpire Hair at square leg and these passed without incident. At 2:34pm he took up the attack from umpire Hair's or the southern end. Muralitharan's third over was a maiden with all deliveries again passed as legitimate but in his fourth Hair no-balled him twice for throwing on the fourth and sixth balls. The umpire continued to call him three times in his fifth over on the second, fourth and sixth balls. While the bowler stood with his hands on his hips perplexed, the five calls provoked an immediate response by the Sri Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga who left the field at 3:03pm in order to take advice from his team management. He returned at 3:08pm and continued with Muralitharan who was called two more times in his sixth over on the second and sixth balls. At 3:17pm Ranatunga removed the offending bowler from the attack, although he reintroduced him at 3:30pm at umpire Dunne's end. Although Hair reports in his book, "Decision Maker", that at the end of the tea break he stated that he would call Muralitharan no matter which end he bowled he did not do so. Muralitharan completed another twelve overs without further no-balls and, after bowling Mark Waugh, finished the day with figures of 18-3-58-1.
The controversy bubbled on during the two-day long Australian innings. After being no-balled Muralitharan bowled further 32 overs from umpire Steve Dunne's end without protest from either Dunne or Hair, at square leg. The Sri Lankan camp was outraged after the incident, but the ICC leapt to Hair's defence, outlining a list of steps they had taken in the past to determine, without result, the legitimacy of Muralitharan's action. By calling Muralitharan from the bowlers' end Hair overrode what is normally regarded as the authority of the square leg umpire in adjudicating on throwing. Dunne would have had to break convention to support his partner.
At the end of the match the Sri Lankans requested from the ICC permission to confer with Hair in order to find out exactly how to remedy the problem with their bowler. Despite the game's controlling body agreeing to it, the Australian Cricket Board vetoed it on the grounds that it might lead to umpires being quizzed by teams after every game and meant that the throwing controversy would continue into the World Series Cup during the coming week. The Sri Lankans were disappointed they didn't get an explanation and decided they would continue playing their bowler in matches not umpired by Hair and wanted to know whether other umpires would support or reject Hair's judgement.
In January 1998, Muralitharan took his first ten-wicket haul against Zimbabwe in the first Test at Kandy. Sri Lanka won by eight wickets and Muralitharan had figures of 12 for 117. In August that same year Muralitharan produces his career-best Test match figures of 16 for 220, in the one-off Test against England. Ben Hollioake becomes his 200th Test wicket. Sri Lanka won by ten wickets, their first Test victory in England.
Playing his 58th Test, Muralitharan claimed his 300th Test wicket when he dismissed Shaun Pollock in the first Test in Durban, in December 2000. Only Dennis Lillee reached the milestone faster, in his 56th Test.
On 4 January 2002 in Kandy Muralitharan might have finished with the best-ever figures for a single innings, but after he had claimed nine wickets against Zimbabwe Russel Arnold dropped a catch at short leg. He missed out on the tenth when Chaminda Vaas dismissed Henry Olonga caught behind amid stifled appeals. Muralitharan follows up his 9 for 51 in the first innings with 4 for 64 in the second, equaling Richard Hadlee's record of 10 ten-wicket match hauls, but needing 15 fewer Tests to do so.
On 15 January 2002 playing in his 72nd Test, Muralitharan became the fastest to reach the 400-wicket landmark when he bowled Olonga in the third Test in Galle.
On 16 March 2004 Muralitharan became the fastest and the youngest bowler to reach 500 wickets during the second Test between Sri Lanka and Australia played in Kandy. In his 87th Test, he bowled Kasprowicz to claim his 500th victim just 4 days after Warne reached the landmark on the fifth day of the first Test between the two teams at Galle. Warne took 108 Tests to reach 500. Muralitharan took 4-48 on the first day of the second Test as Australia was skittled for 120 in the first innings.
In May 2004, Muralitharan overtook West Indian Courtney Walsh's record of 519 Test match wickets to become the highest wicket-taker. Zimbabwe's Mluleki Nkala becomes Muralitharan's 520th scalp in Tests. Muralitharan held the record until Shane Warne claimed it in October 2004. Warne surpassed Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralitharan's mark of 532 wickets by dismissing India's Irfan Pathan. Warne said he enjoyed his duel with Muralitharan, who was sidelined following shoulder surgery at the time.
After an outstanding year Muralitharan was adjudged as the Wisden Leading Cricketer in the World in 2006. In six Tests, he took 60 wickets. He took ten in each of four successive matches, the second time he has performed such a feat. The opponents for his 60-wicket haul were England away, South Africa at home and New Zealand away: serious opposition. In all, Muralitharan took 90 wickets in 11 Tests in the calendar year.
In July 2007, Muttiah Muralitharan become the second bowler after Australia's Shane Warne to capture 700 Test wickets. The off spinner reached the landmark when he had Bangladesh's last man Syed Rasel caught in the deep by Farveez Maharoof on the fourth day of the third and final Test at the Asgiriya stadium in Kandy. The dismissal signalled Sri Lanka's victory by an innings and 193 runs to give the host a 3-0 sweep of the series. Muralitharan finished with six wickets in each innings to claim 10 wickets or more in a Test for the 20th time. However, he was unable to pass Warne's record of 708 wickets when Sri Lanka toured Australia in November 2007, capturing just 4 wickets in two test matches.
Muralitharan reclaimed the record for most Test wickets during the first Test against England at Kandy on 3 December 2007. The spinner, bowled England's Paul Collingwood to claim his 709th Test victim and overtaking Shane Warne in the process.. Muralitharan reached the mark in his 116th Test - 29 fewer than Warne - and had conceded only 21.77 runs per wicket compared to the Australian's 25.41. This was Muralitharan's 61st 5-wicket haul. Warne believes that Muralitharan will take "1,000 wickets" before he retires. Former record holder Courtney Walsh has also opined that this is possible if Muralitharan retains his hunger for wickets. Muralitharan himself believes there is a possibility that he will reach this milestone.
Muttiah Muralitharan believes the emergence of young spinner Ajantha Mendis will help prolong his own career. Muralitharan, 36, and 23-year-old Mendis formed a formidable partnership in the first Test thrashing of India, taking 19 of the 20 wickets between them. "If he keeps performing this way, he will definitely take a lot of wickets in international cricket. Now that he has come, I think I can play Test cricket a few more years. Bowling 50 overs in a test innings is very hard. Now if I bowl only 30-35 and he bowls more than me, the job will get easier for me.
Muttiah Muralitharan's greatness lies in the fact that even when batsmen read his deliveries, it is still difficult for them to successfully play them. Like many bowlers he didn't start on the international scene a finished product, every trick in place, every nuance worked out, with only the minor detail of wicket-taking to follow. It took him 27 Tests to claim 100 wickets; the hundred wicket milestones thereafter came in 15, 16, 14, 15, 14 and 12 Tests respectively. His bowling ability wasn't created behind closed doors, but one that evolved out in the open in front of thousands of spectators.
In July 2007, Muralitharan achieved a career peak Test Bowling Rating of 920, based on the LG ICC Player Rankings. This is the highest ever rating achieved by a spin bowler in test cricket. This also puts him in 4th place in the LG ICC Best-Ever Test bowling ratings.
Muralitharan has the unique distinction of getting 10 or more wickets in a match against all other 9 Test playing nations as well as capturing over 50 wickets against each of them. He has also obtained 7 or more wickets in an innings against 5 nations, namely England, India, South Africa, West Indies and Zimbabwe (refer to table above).
He currently holds the highest wickets/match ratio (6.1) for any bowler with over 200 Test wickets and has also represented Sri Lanka in 118 tests of the 175 that they have played (67.4%).
As a match-winner, Muralitharan has no rival. In the 45 Tests that Sri Lanka have won with him in the team, he has taken a phenomenal 373 wickets - that's more than eight per match - at an average of 15 and a strike rate of 41. Only Warne, with 510, and Glenn McGrath (414) have taken more wickets in wins. Muralitharan's record has few blemishes, but the two teams he hasn't quite conquered have been Australia and India. He had a disappointing series in Australia in late 2007, averaging 100 runs per wicket, whilst in the eight Tests he has played in India, he has only managed 31 wickets at 39.58 apiece. The other criticism sometimes leveled by some against Muralitharan is the number of wickets he has taken against cricketing minnows Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. He has done exceptionally well against them, but remove those matches from his career numbers, and the statistics still look very good. Against teams excluding Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, Muralitharan has taken 572 wickets in 97 tests at an average of 24.05, which is still superior to Warne's career average of 25.41. Muralitharan has won 18 Man of the Match awards in Test cricket.
Another comparison of Muralitharan's bowling record against other successful international bowlers is their career record away from home. Muralitharan has received criticism that he has enjoyed great success on home soil, taking wickets on pitches that are more spin-friendly than other international pitches. A quick analysis of his Test record of matches played outside Sri Lanka shows that from 52 matches he has taken 278 wickets at an average of 26.24 runs per wicket, with a strike rate of 60.1 balls per wicket. Similarly, spin bowling rival Shane Warne retired with a slightly superior 'away' record of 362 wickets from 73 matches, at an average of 25.50 and a strike rate of 56.7. Due to the variabilities of Test cricket such as grounds played at and opposition played against it is difficult to compare the quality of the top level players and, as such, is very difficult and subjective.
On 12 August 1993 Muralitharan made his One Day International (ODI) debut against India at the Khettarama Stadium and took 1 for 38 off ten overs. Praveen Amre was his first ODI wicket.
On 27 October 2000 in Sharjah, Murali captured 7 for 30 against India, which were then the best bowling figures in One Day Internationals.
In 9 April 2002 Muralitharan achieved a career peak ODI Bowling Rating of 913, based on the LG ICC Player Rankings. This is the highest ever rating achieved by a spin bowler in One Day Internationals. This also puts him in 4th place in the LG ICC Best-Ever ODI bowling ratings.
In 2006, Muralitharan had the second (now third) highest number of runs (99) hit off him in a One Day International Innings. The Australians rattled him, especially Adam Gilchrist, as they attacked each trick tried by Muralitharan that day. It is also to be noted that Muralitharan does not have a great record against the Australians in ODIs and this was proved again as he was ineffective in the finals of the 2007 World Cup; his chief tormentor again being Gilchrist.
Muralitharan has played in four Cricket World Cup tournaments, in 1996, 1999, 2003 and 2007. He has captured 53 World Cup wickets in 31 matches, and has represented Sri Lanka in two World Cup finals. In 1996 Muralitharan was part Sri Lanka's World Cup winning team that defeated Australia in Lahore, Pakistan. Muralitharan also played in the 2007 World Cup final, when Australia defeated Sri Lanka in Bridgetown, Barbados. He picked up 23 wickets in the 2007 World Cup, and finished as the second highest wicket taker in the tournament behind Glenn McGrath.
Muttiah Muralitharan was left out of the Sri Lankan one-day squad to tour West Indies in April 2008. The chairman of selectors Ashantha De Mel clarifying the non-selection stated that "We know he (Muralitharan) can still play in the next World Cup if he is properly looked after, so we want to use him sparingly to preserve him for the big games and the World Cup coming up in the Asian sub-continent where Muralitharan will be a threat."
Currently, Muralitharan has second highest number of career wickets in One Day Internationals, behind Wasim Akram. He has won 11 Man of the Match awards in this form of the game.
Tom Moody, the former Sri Lanka coach, said he was embarrassed by the derogatory reaction and negative attention directed towards Muttiah Muralitharan by Australian crowds. Moody stated that "As an Australian when I have been with the Sri Lankan team in Australia, or playing against them in the World Cup, it's the only situation we find in the whole of the cricketing world where we have this disgraceful slant on a cricketer".
During the 2008 CB series in Australia, some members of the Sri Lankan contingent including Muralitharan, were the target of an egg throwing incident in Hobart. The Sri Lankan cricket selector Don Anurasiri was hit by an egg, while Muralitharan and two others were verbally abused by a car-load of people as they were walking from a restaurant back to the hotel. Due to the incident taking place at night, it is unclear whether Muralitharan was indeed the target of the culprits. Even though the Australian coach of the Sri Lankan team, Trevor Bayliss, down-played the incident as "a non-event", Cricket Australia tightened security around the team. In response to this episode Muralitharan was quoted as saying "When you come to Australia, you expect such incidents".
Muralitharan was selected as the Wisden Leading Cricketer in the World in 2000 and in 2006.
On 15 November 2007, the Warne-Muralidaran Trophy was unveiled named after the two leading wicket-takers in Test cricket, Shane Warne and Muralitharan. The trophy displays images of the two spin bowlers' hands each holding a cricket ball. This trophy will be contested between Australia and Sri Lanka in all future Test series.
On 3 December 2007, just hours after Muttiah Muralitharan became Test cricket's leading Test wicket-taker, Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) announced it had unveiled a portrait of the Sri Lanka off-spinner at Lord's. On the same day the Philatelic Bureau of the Department of Posts in Sri Lanka issued a circular stamp with a denomination of Rs. 5 to mark the world record set by Muttiah Muralitharan. The circular design was meant to denote the cricket ball.
Australian musician Alston Koch provoked worldwide interest when he recorded the only official tribute song to Muralitharan, the song was even mentioned on the BBC's Test Match Special.The Muralitharan Song video was also released after he broke the world record.
On 10 January 2008, the Parliament of Sri Lanka felicitated Muttiah Muralitharan for his world record breaking feat of being the highest wicket taker in Test cricket. This is the first time that a sportsman has been honoured in the country’s Supreme Legislature.
Ten days later, on 5 January, 1996, Sri Lanka played the West Indies in the 7th ODI of the triangular World Series competition, in Brisbane. Umpire Ross Emerson officiating in his debut international match, no-balled Muralitharan three times in his first over, twice in his second and twice in his third. It was an identical tally to that called by Hair on Boxing Day and (like Hair) Emerson made his calls from the bowler's end while his partner stood silent. The main difference was that several no-balls were for leg-breaks instead of the bowler's normal off-breaks.
In February 1996, just before the world cup Muralitharan underwent biomechanical analysis at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology under the supervision of Prof. Ravindra Goonetilleke, who declared his action legal in the conditions tested, citing a congenital defect in Muralitharan's arm which makes him incapable of fully straightening it, but giving the appearance of fully straightening the arm. Although under the original Laws a bowler's arm did not need to be fully straightened to be in breach of a legal delivery. They concluded that his action created the 'optical illusion of throwing'. Based on this evidence ICC gave clearance to Muralitharan to continue bowling.
Under the original throwing Laws of Cricket, the umpires officiating were under an obligation to call "no-ball" to a delivery that they were not entirely happy was absolutely fair. This Law gave the umpires absolutely no discretion. In 2000, the Laws were changed to put an allowable figure of straightening of 5° for spinners, 7.5° for medium pacers and 10° for fast bowlers in an attempt to more clearly define what was legal. But these figures proved difficult to enforce due to umpires being unable to discern actual amounts of straightening and the differentiation between the three different allowable figures. Testing in Test Match conditions is not currently possible "when the identification of elbow and shoulder joint centres in on-field data collection, where a shirt is worn, also involves large errors. In a match the ability to differentiate anatomical movements such as 'elbow extension' by digitising segment end-points, particularly if you have segment rotations, is extremely difficult and prone to error. This is certainly the case with spin bowlers. It is therefore not surprising that laboratory testing is preferred, particularly for spin bowlers, where an appropriate pitch length and run-up can be structured. This is clearly the only way to test players, where data would be able to withstand scientific and therefore legal scrutiny."
An extensive ICC study, the results of which were released in November 2004, was conducted to investigate the "chucking issue". A laboratory kinematic analysis of 42 non-Test playing bowlers done by Ferdinands and Kersting (2004) established that the 5° limit for slow and spin bowlers was particularly impractical. The researchers recommended that a flat rate of 15° tolerable elbow extension be used to define a preliminary demarcation point between bowling and throwing.
A panel of former Test players consisting of Aravinda de Silva, Angus Fraser, Michael Holding, Tony Lewis, Tim May and the ICC's David Richardson, with the assistance of several biomechanical experts, stated that 99% of all bowlers in the history of cricket straighten their arms when bowling.. Only one player tested (part-time bowler Ramnaresh Sarwan) reportedly did not transgress the rules. Muralitharan's off break and topspinner were deemed within the rules (2 to 5 degree straightening). Many of these reports have controversially not been published and as such, the 99% figure stated has yet to be proved. In fact, Muralitharan stirred up controversy when he said during an interview with a Melbourne radio station that Jason Gillespie, Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee flexed their arms by 12, 13 and 14-15 degrees respectively, although it is unclear as to where Muralitharan quoted these figures from. Muralitharan was censured by the Sri Lankan Cricket Board for these comments.
The ICC Executive was asked to ratify the panel's recommendations at the ICC's Annual General Meeting in February 2005. Based on the recommendations the ICC issued a new guideline (which was effective from 1 March 2005) allowing for extensions or hyperextensions of up to 15 degrees for all types of bowlers, thus deeming Muralitharan's doosra to be legal.
Explaining why the maximum level of 15 degrees was arrived at, panel member Angus Fraser stated "That is the number which biomechanics says that it (straightening) becomes visible. It is difficult for the naked eye to see less than 15 degrees in a bowler's action. We found when the biceps reached the shoulder the amount of bend was around 165 degrees. Very few bowlers can get to 180 degrees because the joint doesn't allow that. ...... but once you go further than 15 degrees you get into an area which is starting to give you an unfair advantage and you are breaking the law".
Initially, Muralitharan bowled three balls - the off-spinner, the top-spinner and the doosra - as he would in a match. Then he bowled the same three balls with a brace that is made from steel bars, which are set into strong resin. This brace has been moulded to his right arm, is approximately 46 centimetres long and weighs just under 1 kilogram.
TV presenter Mark Nicholas who tried the brace himself, confirmed that "There is no way an arm can be bent, or flexed, when it is in this brace." All three balls reacted in the same way as when bowled without the brace. They were not bowled quite so fast because the weight of the brace restricts the speed of Muralitharan's shoulder rotation, but the spin was still there.
With the brace on, there still appeared to be a jerk in his action. When studying the film at varying speeds, it still appeared as if he straightened his arm, even though the brace makes it impossible to do so. His unique shoulder rotation and amazing wrist action seem to create the illusion that he straightens his arm.
The off spinner said the exercise was to convince a sceptical public rather than sway an ICC investigation into bowling actions launched after he was reported by match referee Chris Broad for his doosra delivery in March 2004, the third time action has been taken on his bowling. In an interview for August 2004 edition of Wisden Asia Cricket, Muralitharan stated "I think it will prove a point to those who had said that it was physically impossible to bowl a ball that turned the other way. I proved that it was possible to bowl the doosra without bending the arm."
Michael Holding, the former West Indian fast bowler was also a critic of Muralitharan, but withdrew his criticisms under the light of the tests carried out. Holding has been quoted as being in "110% agreement" with Bedi, who likened Murali's action to a "javelin throw and more recently, compared to a "shot putter". Following the ICC study, as a member of the panel that conducted the study, Holding stated, "The scientific evidence is overwhelming... When bowlers who to the naked eye look to have pure actions are thoroughly analysed with the sophisticated technology now in place, they are likely to be shown as straightening their arm by 11 and in some cases 12 degrees. Under a strict interpretation of the Law, these players are breaking the rules. The game needs to deal with this reality and make its judgment as to how it accommodates this fact.
In May 2002, Adam Gilchrist, speaking at a Carlton (Australian) Football Club luncheon, claimed Muralitharan's action does not comply with the Laws of cricket. The Melbourne-based Age newspaper quoted Gilchrist as saying."Yeah, I think he does (chuck), and I say that because, if you read the Laws of the game, there's no doubt in my mind that he and many others, throughout cricket history have. These comments were made before the doosra controversy, in spite of Muralitharan's action having been cleared by ICC in both 1996 and 1999. For his outburst Gilchrist was reprimanded by the Australian Cricket Board (ACB) and found guilty of being in breach of ACB rules concerned with "detrimental public comment".
During the 2006 tour of New Zealand another Muralitharan critic, former New Zealand captain and cricket commentator Martin Crowe called for Muralitharan's doosra to be monitored more closely, asserting that his action seemed to deteriorate during a match. Earlier that year when delivering the Cowdrey lecture at Lords Martin Crowe had demanded zero tolerance instead of 15 degrees for throwing and specifically branded Muttiah Muralitharan a chucker. In response to Crowe's criticism ICC general manager David Richardson stated that the scientific evidence presented by biomechanists Professor Bruce Elliot, Dr Paul Hurrion and Mr Marc Portuswith was overwhelming and clarified that "Some bowlers, even those not suspected of having flawed actions, were found likely to be straightening their arms by 11 or 12 degrees. And at the same time, some bowlers that may appear to be throwing may be hyper-extending or bowl with permanently bent elbows. Under a strict interpretation of the law, they were breaking the rules - but if we ruled out every bowler that did that then there would be no bowlers left.
Muralitharan together with Chaminda Vaas holds the record for the highest 10th wicket partnership in tests for Sri Lanka. The pair put on 79 runs for the last wicket at the Asgiriya Stadium against Australia in March 2004. Muralitharan also holds the record for scoring most runs in test cricket, while batting at the number 11 position.
Muralitharan, along with his manager Kushil Gunasekara, established the Foundation of Goodness, a charity organisation, in the early 2000s. This organisation is committed to the wellbeing of the Seenigama region (in southern Sri Lanka) and supports local communities through a range of projects across areas including children’s needs, education and training, healthcare and psycho-social support, housing, livelihoods, sport and the environment.
When the tsunami devastated Sri Lanka on 26 December 2004, Muralitharan galvanised into action to ensure that aid reached people that needed it. He himself narrowly escaped death, arriving 20 minutes late at Seenigama, where he was to give away prizes at one of the charity projects he worked on. While international agencies were bringing food in by air, there was an urgent need for transport, and Murali organised three convoys of 10 trucks each, paying for these himself, to get the food to people who needed it. He persuaded those who could to donate clothes, and supervised the delivery himself.
During the hard work of rehabilitation in the tsunami’s aftermath, cement was in short supply. Muralitharan promptly signed an endorsement deal with Lafarge, a global cement giant, that was a straight barter, where cement would be supplied to the Foundation for Goodness in exchange for work Muralitharan did. During the first three years since the tsunami, the foundation raised more than US$ 4 million to help survivors, and has built homes, schools, sports facilities and computer centres.
The key publications are listed below: