Melbourne: Once jeered by Australian fans as a ‘chucker’, the wheel has turned full circle for Muttiah Muralitharan, as he will now coach the next generation of Aussie players in Cricket Australia’s bid to shore up the country’s spin bowling stock, according to a report.
The controversial Sri Lankan off-spinner will spend several weeks as a guest coach during an intensive training programme at the Brisbane Centre of Excellence in June.
Muralitharan, who has been repeatedly heckled and even had fruit thrown at him by unruly fans since being no-balled by umpire Darrell Hair in the 1995 Boxing Day Test, will become Australia’s potential spin saviour, a newspaper reported on Tuesday.
Test cricket’s greatest wicket-taker, the Sri Lankan will impart the secrets of his craft and videotape a coaching tutorial for future generations of Australian spinners.
Muralitharan’s action will be recorded live and downloaded on the Academy’s pro-batter video machine so that batsmen can face a “virtual Murali”.
Batting great Greg Chappell, who is the only full-time national selector, arranged the visit.
“This is a wonderful opportunity ... Murali has probably forgotten more about spin bowling than most people will ever know in a lifetime,” Chappell said.
“Murali is one of the greatest spin bowlers of all time, we are very, very lucky. It is not just Murali’s obvious physical skill that will be a huge benefit for our young spinners.”
“It is also his mental toughness, his cleverness, his cunning and his ability to be able to set a batsman up and bowl 10-15 overs to a plan,” Chappell was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
The depleted spin stocks are one of the most pressing issues facing Australian cricket, with 10 frontline spinners deployed at Test level since Shane Warne retired at the end of the 2006-07 home Ashes series.
Little-known spinners Xavier Doherty and Michael Beer wore the baggy green caps this summer after Nathan Hauritz was sacked before the first Ashes Test.