Columbo: There was a time when Muttiah Muralitharan thought that his career was over; way back in 1995-96 when he was accused of ‘throwing’ the ball by Australian umpires Darrel Hair and Ross Emerson.
But, thanks to the technology cricket possesses today, Muralitharan can now face his critics with his head held high.
Announcing his retirement from the international Test arena, Muralitharan admitted that had it not been the support of his team-mates and the public, his career would have been dead then and there.
“Thanks to Arjuna Ranatunga (the captain), Aravinda de Silva (vice-captain) and the Cricket Board officials at the time (1995-96) they backed me. Because of their backing and the public who were behind me I am here today talking to you with all these tremendous bowling records,” said Muralitharan.
“Otherwise I would have been just another bowler who played a little bit of cricket and went off. At one time I thought I would give up and bowl leg-spin. Fortunately everyone helped me get over it,” he added.
Muralitharan added that even though he was ‘upset’ with all the controversies surrounding his bowling action, he was never really angry with his critics.
“At the time I might have got upset because that is human nature, but I never got angry with the people who accused me of throwing. People have different opinions and at the time they might have thought I was doing wrong,” he said.
“My reply to them is without looking at me with the naked eye, try and judge me with the technology that is now available for everything. Why don’t they use it and see whether there is anything wrong with my bowling action. That’s the only argument I have against them,” Muralitharan said.
“A thousand people can have different opinions. There will be people supportive of my bowling action and others not. Technology has proved that I am clean, but when you want to criticise someone you don’t need technology, it’s all what you think about that person. That is the reality of life.
“I don’t regret anything at all. What I have done is memories and it will be there with me. People can carry their own opinion about me but I don’t care for as long as I am clean I am very happy,” he said.
Muralitharan also said that he has a goal to accomplish before he retires from Test cricket after the first Test at Galle against India.
The Sri Lankan off-spinner aims at reaching the 800-Test-wickets target, of which he is just eight scores short, and the distance to the same is something which he wishes to complete in the first Test at Galle itself.
After having already claimed the record for maximum number of wickets in Test Cricket, Muralitharan says that the target of 800 is ‘just a number’ for him.
“Eight hundred wickets is just a number because I already have the world record,” said Muralitharan. “I have taken it as a challenge to give me the motivation to take the eight wickets I need to reach that mark and also win the Test for my country. I hope we can achieve it. I have confidence that we have a good Test team and I hope we can win my farewell Test and hopefully the series.”
Muralitharan, who holds the record for maximum wickets in ODIs as well with 515 wickets in his kitty, said that he is willing to pitch in for the team in the 2011 ICC World Cup if he is asked to.