Galle: Sri Lankan spin legend Muttiah Muralitharan, who on Thursday became the first man in the history of Test cricket to capture 800 wickets, was hailed as a great cricketer and person by present and former cricketers.
India’s defeat in the first Test was hardly a topic of discussion, as cricket fraternity showered accolades on Muttiah Muralitharan, saying no bowler in the world can touch his 800-wicket mark.
Muralitharan hanged up his boots from longer version of the game in style, taking the required eight wickets to get to the magical mark.
Australian leg-spin legend Shane Warne was all praise for Murali.
He said, "I don`t think anyone will get there."
Pakistani pace legend Wasim Akram also congratulated Muralitharan.
"Murali is something phenomenal. I don`t think anyone will even come close to taking 800 wickets," he said.
South African skipper Greame Smith looked like a relieved man.
He said, "Glad I don`t need to face him in Test cricket again."
Sri Lanka skipper Kumar Sangakkara said that Murali’s shoes are too big for any player to fit in.
"I am never going to go around looking for another Murali. Because you are never going to find any,” said an emotional Sangakkara at post-match conference.
Even the losing Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was all praise for the spin magician.
"It is not always possible to restrain him. I think he really bowled well to get those 8 wickets. And I am really happy that he has got 800 wickets in his Test career,” said Dhoni.
Former India captain Kris Srikkanth also paid tribute to Sri Lankan spinner. He said, "I think it is amazing what he has achieved. I have no words to praise him. All I can say is hats off".
Former India captain Anil Kumble also congratulated Murali on his amazing feat.
"There was no better way to finish on that high note. You cannot ask for anything else. It was an honour to play along with him,” said Kumble.
South African opening batsman Herschelle Gibbs described Murali as one on the greatest players of all time.
“He has been one of the greatest players of all time. Murali is simply awesome and his record speaks for him,” he said.
Former Australian batsman Matthew Hayden, too, showered praise on the Sri Lankan bowler.
“Its an incredible achievement by Murali,” he said.
Murali’s wife Madhi Malara, who was seen jumping with joy after her husband completed the magical feat said that the family had some anxious moments.
“We were tense before he reached 800 but extremely happy now,” she exclaimed.
India’s 1982 World Cup-winning captain Kapil Dev feels with the growing amount of limited overs cricket, it would be difficult for anyone to come closer to Muralitharan’s feat.
“Murali is a genius. I say this because he has developed his own doosra and is a pioneer in the delivery. His achievements are incomparable.”
“He faced many hurdles in his life but overcame all like a champion. With the kind of Twenty20 and one-day cricket being played these days, I do not think anyone in the world can come closer to his mark, leave alone surpassing it,” Kapil said.
“It is a truly great performance from Murali, especially because Sri Lanka came into the ICC fold only in the early 80s. People should emulate his determination and perseverance,” he added.
Former India off-spinner Erapalli Prasanna agreed with Kapil, saying Muralitharan is God’s gift to the game.
“It is a brilliant performance and wonderful record to boot. It speaks volume of Murali’s character, determination and perseverance. He is a God’s gift. In my opinion no one will be able to match this feat in the horizon,” said Prasanna, who has 189 Tests wickets to his credit.
“He has performed in all types of wickets and terrorized batsmen across the world. No way any other bowlers in the globe could surpass his feat.”
“Graeme Swann of England has been amongst wickets but I wonder whether he too will be able to achieve Murali’s feat. Murali has left a void in world cricket which will be hard to fill in,” he said.
Prasanna said the Indian Cricket Board (BCCI) needs to seriously think about the woes of India’s spin bowling department, which at one time used to be its strength.
“It is time that the BCCI address the problem of our spinners. Spin bowling always used to be our weapon and strength. Murali captured eight wickets, but Harbhajan (Singh) went wicketless. The performance of our team in this match should have opened the eyes of BCCI officials,” he said.
BCCI secretary N Srinivasan, who is also the owner of Muralitharan’s IPL team Chennai Super Kings, congratulated the Sri Lankan spinner for his amazing success.
“I congratulate Murali on his achievement. He is one of the best of all time greats. I wish him the best,” Srinivasan said.
With inputs from PTI