Karachi: Glowing tributes continue to flow Muttiah Muralitharan’s way with former Pakistan spinner Saqlain Mushtaq saying the Sri Lankan magician took the art of off-spin bowling to its pinnacle.
Muralitharan quit Test cricket in great style, by getting his 800th wicket in the first Test against India.
“I still think that Murali can play on for one or two years in all forms of the game. He is a great spinner who mastered and took the art of off-break bowling to new heights,” Saqlain told reporters from London.
“He is a magician in the true sense and I think he and Shane Warne gave spinners a new respect in international cricket,” he added.
Saqlain said although it was he who invented the ‘Doosra’ but Muralitharan made full use of the art.
“Murali used this delivery as a great wicket-taking weapon and I felt proud watching him do this. I don’t think any bowler can break the record of 800 Test wickets,” he said.
Pakistan’s cricket coach Waqar Younis said Murali should continue playing One-day format as world cricket would be poorer without him.
“I just hope he continues to play limited overs cricket because the sport needs great bowlers and people like him. As a tail-ender it was always a big challenge facing him so I think there would be many players around who would be relieved that Murali has retired from Test cricket,” Waqar said.
Waqar said 800 Test wickets was a milestone no one would have imagined to be achieved many years ago.
“But Murali made this possible, his sheer endurance and the enjoyment he brought into his cricket and bowling were his gifts which can’t be transferred to anyone,” he said.
Former Pakistan captains Javed Miandad and Moin Khan said facing Murali was their toughest challenge as batsmen.
“I pay tribute to Murali because he faced so many questions over his bowling action and he eventually got cleared but he never let his shoulders fall down. He fought on and achieved records others could only dream off,” Moin said.
“Facing him was always a big challenge so as a batsman. I would be happy he has retired but I sincerely want to see him play in the next World Cup, he brought value to cricket.”
Miandad said batsmen had to adjust their techniques while facing Muralitharan.
“I think it is a huge achievement for Murali to have completed 800 Test wickets and to do it in a Test that Sri Lanka won, I don’t think there could have been a better farewell for him,” Miandad said.
Former captain Wasim Akram there would not be another bowler like Muralitharan.
“I think Test cricket has lost a great bowler and human being with his retirement,” Akram said.