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DateLine Sunday, 3 June 2007





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Moody embarrassed by Aussie reaction to Murali

SYDNEY, June 2, 2007 (AFP) Former Sri Lankan cricket coach Tom Moody says he is embarrassed by the derogatory reaction and constant harassment directed by Australian crowds towards Sri Lanka spinner Muttiah Muralitharan.

Muralitharan's ultra-flexible bowling action has come under its heaviest scrutiny in Australia, where he has been called for throwing on two tours, prompting him to boycott Sri Lanka's 2004 tour here.

Even Australian Prime Minister John Howard joined in by labelling him a "chucker."

But Moody, who resigned after a successful stint as Sri Lanka coach to take up a coaching role with Western Australia, claims Murali's bowling action is more legal than those of some other international cricketers.

"As an Australian when I have been with the Sri Lankan team in Australia, or playing against them in the World Cup, it's the only situation we find in the whole of the cricketing world where we have this disgraceful slant on a cricketer," Moody told Saturday's The Australian newspaper.

"My take on it, and I hope I'm right, and I've shared this with Murali, is that it's Australia's nature to show that response in a way of respect and acknowledgement of someone who is pretty special and unique.

"I don't know if I'm right. I hope I'm right because at times I've found it incredibly embarrassing."

Moody, a World Cup winner with Australia in 1999, puts this attitude down to the competition between Murali and Australia's retired champion spinner Shane Warne, who is the world's leading wicket-taker with 708. Murali is second with 674, but given the amount he bowls and the rate at which he takes his wickets, he is likely to pass Warne within a year.

When Murali tours Australia for two Tests in November, he will still be behind Warne.

"They're protecting their own. Australia has produced the greatest leg-spinner of all time and Australians are very proud of that," Moody said.

"There's that constant comparison between Warne and Murali, but I just think you cannot even begin to try and compare the two."

The newspaper said many Australians, including most of the national team, had harboured suspicions about Murali's ultra-flexible action, which includes a bent elbow, apparently a birth deformity.

This exploded publicly on Boxing Day 1995 when Australian umpire Darrell Hair called Murali seven times for throwing, creating a furore.

He was subsequently called during a one-day series in Australia, which almost prompted Sri Lanka to walk off midway through a one-day match in Adelaide four years later.

Murali refused to tour Australia in 2004 because of his treatment by Australians.

Largely on the back of controversy surrounding Murali, the International Cricket Council set up a detailed study of bowling actions, and found that just about every bowler threw the ball to some extent.

It set a limit of 15 degrees for a bowler's elbow movement because it was only when a bowler's arm flexed that far that it became detectable to the naked eye.



Gamin Gamata - Presidential Community & Welfare Service

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