Sri Lanka cricket board files complaint on Muttiah Muralitharan following training ground bust-up

Sri Lankan skipper Angelo Mathews was more conciliatory of his former teammate, acknowledging Muralitharan`s expertise.

AFP| Updated: Jul 25, 2016, 17:41 PM IST
Sri Lanka cricket board files complaint on Muttiah Muralitharan following training ground bust-up

Colombo: Sri Lanka`s cricket board lodged a complaint Monday with the visiting Australians after their bowling consultant and local legend Muttiah Muralitharan was involved in a bust-up with his former colleagues.

On the eve of the first of three Tests, board president Thilanga Sumathipala accused Muralitharan of insulting Sri Lanka team manager Charith Senanayake in a row over the Australians` use of a practice pitch.

"Muralitharan`s behaviour is unacceptable and we have brought this to the notice of the Australian team management," Sumathipala told reporters.

"It should not have happened. We are very disappointed."

Sumathipala said Muralitharan had bullied groundsmen at the Pallekele Stadium on Saturday into allowing the Australians to practise there when it was theoretically off limits to both teams.

"He rode roughshod over the groundsmen and got his (Australian) players to practise in violation of the time stipulations," Sumathipala said. "He later confronted our team manager (Senanayake) and abused him."

There was no immediate comment from the Australians.

Muralitharan is a national hero in Sri Lanka after taking 800 Test wickets, still a world record some six years after his retirement.

But his decision to lend his local expertise to the tourists has raised eyebrows, not least because the 44-year-old was once labelled a "chucker" by Australia`s then-prime minister John Howard.

Stung by criticism on social media, Muralitharan recently posted a video on YouTube in which he defended his decision to help the Australians as a freelance bowling consultant.

"I am doing a professional job," said the 44-year-old former spinner.

"I am not a traitor. Sri Lanka has not tried to make use of my services, so I am helping the Australians who value my contributions."

He also accused the Sri Lankan board, which recently rehired the South African Graham Ford as coach to the national side, of paying foreigners more than locals.

"If they pay 100 rupees to a white coach, they will pay a Sri Lankan only 20 rupees," Muralitharan said. "They don`t treat us well."

He said he agreed to be a "consultant" to Australian spinners during a 10-day period ahead of the Test matches.

"I am a consultant only during the preparations for the match," said the former Sri Lankan legend who was seen wearing Australian team kit while working with their spinners during training.

However, he said he would not go to the Australian dressing room while the matches were being played.

Sri Lanka manager Senanayake refused to comment on the spat, but a source close to the team said the manager and Muralitharan had exchanged words on Saturday at Pallekele, which is hosting the first Test.

Sri Lanka cricket chief Sumathipala said it was ironic that Muralitharan was coaching a team from Australia given his history.

"Professionally it is okay for Murali (as he is more popularly known) to coach any foreign team, but the irony is that he is supporting Australia which tried to get him out of cricket," Sumathipala said.

"He is creating long-term damage for himself among his fans. I feel sad."

Sri Lankan skipper Angelo Mathews was more conciliatory of his former teammate, acknowledging Muralitharan`s expertise.

"The Australians obviously saw value in his knowledge of Sri Lankan conditions," Mathews told reporters in Pallekele. "The Aussies have taken him to get as much information as possible."

During an 18-year Test career, Muralitharan -- who was born with a partially deformed elbow -- was twice cited by Australian umpires for a suspect action but he was cleared both times by the game`s governing body.