Galle: He describes the controversy over his action as a “crisis” during his career but Muttiah Muralitharan holds no grudge against any umpire as he bid farewell to Test cricket with gracious words for the men in white coats.
Murali, whose action had come under the scanner on a number of occasions, said the umpires were only doing their job and and it was tough from them to spot everything with naked eyes.
The spun wizard, who brought down the curtains on his Test career with a phenomenal 800 wickets under his belt, said it was a huge relief for him when the use of technology proved that his action was clean.
“I was disappointed after what happened in 1995. I didn’t expect that my action will be ever doubted. But I don’t hold any grudges. It was their job. Umpires judge with naked eyes and I technically proved my action was right,” Muralitharan said at the presentation ceremony.
“I am very grateful to the cricket board, Arjuna Ranatunga and Aravinda De Silva, they all stood by me and guided me so that I could come through that crisis,” he added.
Asked what are his future plans, Muralitharan said he would make himself available for the World Cup if the selectors feel it necessary.
“I have spoken to the selectors. If they need me for the World Cup, I will play but if they think youngster can do the job for the country then also its ok. I will continue playing Twenty20,” he said.
Murali, who started off being a fast bowler before changing to off-spin, treasures his school days and said he was happy that he could make so many friends in the nearly 19 years of his cricketing career.
“I started playing cricket when I was eight years old. At St Anthony, Sunil Fernando was my coach and all through out my life he has always guided me. Those were the important days of my life,” said Murali, who was very shy to appear for interviews during the initial days of his career.
“I have made a lot of friends in all these years. I always like to speak with my opposition players and it is through cricket that I have got so many friends,” he added.
The spin wizard also took time to acknowledge the support of his family, fans, cricket board and his teammates over the years.
ICC Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat, who was also present at the prize distribution ceremony, also paid glowing tribute to Muralitharan.
“This is a special day for Murali and for world cricket. We want to thank him for entertaining us for the last few years and I would like to congratulate him for being such a living legend and I wish him all the best for the future,” Lorgat said.
Later at a press conference, Murali said he wanted to pave the way for the young spinners and decided to retire in Galle, which was one of his cherished grounds.
“Galle is one of my favourite grounds. It always generates results, the pitches are prepared in that way. Even today in four days we won the match. This is the opportunity I was waiting for to perform well, win the match and finish it nicely,” Murali said.
“There are some good young spin bowlers. You won’t miss me much because I think Ajantha Mendis is bowling better now and two more spinners are good. So three spinner are there who can play. If I am the fourth person then I am blocking some 25-year-old bowler,” he added.
Murali said he decided to call it a day after the first Test also because he wasn’t confident that his knees could bear the wear and tear of three Test matches.
“I thought my knees are not that great that I could bowl 50-60 overs for three Test matches. There is nothing more for me to achieve. I have achieved everything in Test cricket. I thought this should be the end. I want to go in a good way and I am very happy that I am going in a good way,” he said.