When the topic of discussion is cricket and cricket legends, the name Muthiah Muralitharan always comes up. The Sri Lankan player started his career as a medium pace bowler before he started bowling off spin at the age of 14 years as his coach advised…
He started collecting accolades back then, winning the award of Bata School Boy Cricketer of the Year in the 1990/1991 season.
After school, Murali, as he is called by friends and family, joined the Tamil Union Cricket and Aesthetic Club. He was selected to play in the 1991 Sri Lanka A tour of England. His performance in the first few games was not so good. In the five games he played, he did capture even one wicket. Things picked up upon his return to Sri Lanka. He played impressively against Australian in a practice match and went on to make his Test debut in a match that was held at R. Premadasa stadium in what was a second Test Match of the series.
In home matches, Murali made it into the record books by taking 234 wickets in 46 matches in 14.5 runs. He also proved himself in a 1995 match against New Zealand when he took 19 wickets in the series and gave his country a historic 2-1 victory. He has played county cricket in England too. This has mostly been for Lancashire between 1999 and 2007 and then for Kent in 2003.
In his first match against India, Murali took 1 for 38 off his ten overs. In 2002, he hit the peak of his career with a bowling rate of 913 according to LG 1CC player rankings. The feat gave him a fourth place ranking in the LG ICC bowling ratings. He went on to play in four cricket world cups tournaments in 1996, 1999, 2003 and then in 2007. In these games, he captured 53 world cup wickets in a total of 31 matches. has also played in a lot of ODIs for his country where he would capture 464 wickets.
Apart from the great scores, Murali is also known for coming up with a whole new bowling technique.
He did so to be able to play with abnormalities that he was born with in his bowling arm. He came up with wrist spinning where he starts with an open-chested short run up and then does an extreme wrist release. The move created controversy but this was quashed by ICC who carried out tests and ruled that the technique was not breaking any rules.
Before ICC stepped in to clear the matter, Murali was called out by an Australian umpire in the second Test between Sri Lanka and Australia played in 1995. The umpire accused him of prohibited throwing and he got a penalty of no-balls seven times in 3 overs. The umpire believed that the Murali was bending his arm and then straightening it which was considered illegal cricket action. The matter was cleared up and in 1998, he used the technique to reach the best test match figures of his career which as 16 for 220 in a match against England. He also achieved the feat of the fastest player to reach 400 wickets when he bowled Olongo in the third test played against Zimbabwe.