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Aussie crowds embarrass Moody

Cricinfo staff

June 2, 2007

Darrell Hair no-balls Muttiah Muralitharan in the 1995 Boxing Day Test © Getty Images

Tom Moody, the former coach of the Sri Lankan team, has said that he was embarrassed by the derogatory reaction and negative attention directed towards Muttiah Muralitharan by Australian crowds. Muralitharan's unorthodox bowling action has come under massive scrutiny in Australia, where he has been no-balled for a suspect action on two tours. The treatment meted out to by the crowds in reaction to these on-field episodes prompted him to boycott Sri Lanka's 2004 tour to Australia. John Howard, the Australian prime minister, joined the clamour by labelling Muralitharan a "chucker".

"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 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".

Moody, who has taken up a coaching role with Western Australia puts this attitude down to the competition between Muralitharan and Australia's retired legspinner Shane Warne, who finished his career as the World's leading wicket-taker with 708 wickets. Muralitharan is second in the all-time list with 674 wickets.

"They're protecting their own. Australia has produced the greatest legspinner 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 that many Australians, including some members of the national team, have had suspicions about Muralitharan's action since he was no-balled in the 1995 Boxing Day Test, by Australia umpire Darrell Hair. This created a major controversy, and when Muralitharan was no-balled by Ross Emerson, in a ODI series four years later, the Sri Lankans walked off the field in Adelaide, and only an intervention by the respective boards and the ICC saved the tour.

The ICC set up a detailed study of bowling actions mainly in response to these events and set a limit of 15 degrees for the straightening of the elbow while the bowler is going through his action, since only if it is flexed beyond that, is it detectable by the human eye. Muralitharan's action was subsequently cleared by the ICC, but this did not convince the Australian crowds. The rules regarding suspect actions have now been defined by the ICC. A bowler reported for a suspected illegal action is now scientifically tested, and if found on the wrong side, sent for remedial work by experts. A bowler can make a return to competitive cricket only after his action is re-modelled.

Muralitharan has been tours to Australia since his boycott of the 2004 tour and looks all set to visit Australia in November for a two Test series.

© Cricinfo
I think he is over reacting here. Sure the Aussie crowds are hostile towards muttiah, but i have seen crowds worse. eg. Everytime Aussies go over to New Zealand we always cop a pasting from the fans.
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