Tribute To The World’s Greatest Bowler
Muttiah Muralitharan will spin cricket balls for the very last time at Galle, against India, the number one ranking test cricket team at the moment, starting tomorrow.
Whatever Murali does in the next few days, whether he adds one more scalp or not (absolutely improbable) to his incredible tally of 792 (highest) in test cricket, he will leave behind an implausible history that is not only rich with his cricket prowess, but his contribution as a human being as well.
My earliest memory of cricket is when Hanif Mohammed was visiting India and scoring centuries in every match he was playing for Pakistan. Young was I, fervently prayed to God for his failure, such was my enthusiasm for my homeland. Then one day news came in that Hanif was not going to play in the next match since he had injured his hand; the injury came when one crazy Indian fan slashed Hanif’s hand with the pretext of hand shaking. I was overwhelmed with joy.
As I grew up I learned to appreciate the game as game should be (not war), and started enjoying the skills of cricketers irrespective of their nationality. Murali came in when I was already in that frame of mind. He was not a handsome man, regardless, looking at him bowl in India’s spin friendly pitches; one was apt to mistake him as a god.
He was literally turning balls in feet when Indian bowlers were struggling to turn them few inches. Every spin bowler has a few variations; Murali nonetheless could bowl six balls in seven different ways, so to say. Indian batsmen, the best players of spin bowling were msmerized.
Tony Lock may have shown spin could be as deadly as fast bowling in the days when the seamers were dominating batsmen with brute force, notwithstanding, it took the Indian quartet Bedi, Chandrasekhar, Prasanna, and Venkataraghavan to demonstrate that beguiling them with charm, like seduction in a romantic comedy could work even better.
Murali nonetheless took spin bowling to the level of magic. Without changing grip, he could make the ball do different things, thereby totally baffling master batters. Doosra, which was invented by a Pakistani bowler, became such a perfected weapon at the hand of Murali that it would become a tool in every spinner’s armory, after him.Continued on the next page