HYDERABAD: When you talk about the title of ‘spin legend’ in the game of cricket from this part of the world, Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan holds the mantle, undisputed. A further introduction to a legend (statistically speaking and otherwise), belittles the title itself. Indeed the 90s generation is lucky to have witnessed Murali unfurl his magic, on any given surface, time and again, throughout his career. Despite his time off from the international circuit, Murali continues to offer his expertise to the game which has offered him the cult status.
Murali, who is imparting his 24 years of bowling experience to the Orange Army feels, last year was a good outing while this year’s start has been a tad bit slow but he is certain that his expertise would bring the team in form in no time. Sitting at the pool side of ITC Kakatiya, Murali seemed uber cool guiding the team. “There are no tactics that I share. It’s all sheer dos and don’ts. Guiding them without disturbing their individuality and style,” he humbly smiles.
IPL, the new cool
Murali has the highest number of international wickets in Tests, ODIs and T20s combined (1,320 wickets). Asked if he feels the intensity of the game has gone up post his retirement, pat comes the reply, “I have not been following international games these days, but as far as I know, IPL has been the same. It doesn’t change much because you have the best players in the world coming together, trying to compete for one cup. Everyone tries hard and at the end of the day somebody has to win. Competition is surely on rise.”
50-50’s Maska Chaska
Of course the question on 50-50 being estranged followed,without a second thought, Murali says, “No, we can’t say it has faded away because international cricket has been always successful. Even though the IPL and other 20-20 format cricket has gained more importance, ODIs are still going on and will not lose its charm.”
Lanka ke logaan
Sri Lankan team recently saw some renovation and Murali feels this transition period is very crucial and also feels the team is surely trying hard to improve and go a little far from where they are right now. “The team is currently in the cocoon stage. It will take at least two to three years to blossom,” he further adds.
Replacement? No way!
Asked if there is potential chance of having another Murali in the history of cricket, he wore a wide smile and says exact replacements are not possible. “It is tough to get another Sachin Tendulkar or another Shane Warne because it will be a different person doing different things. We will have someone new with a new style boosting up the team.”
A day before the IPL, Dhoni said he misses wearing the CSK jersey, asked if he too misses the bright and vibrant yellow team, He beamed, “Yeah! We had three successful years with CSK. We won major competitions including one champions league. For Dhoni, it is even more emotional because he started with CSK. He will be missing that because his success was more than any other franchise in this competition.”
According to this world’s best spinner, Shane Warne, Anil Kumble, Saqlain Mushtaq and Daniel Vettori were great spinners of his times and he finds Ravichandran Ashwin to be a promising spinner among the current crop. Murali had also mentioned Rangana Herath, who retired from ODIs on Sunday, in the list of great spinners.
“Brian Lara gave me a tough time, for he played my balls really well and could read my mind effortlessly,” elucidated Murali, who held the number one spot in the ICC’s player rankings for Test bowlers for a record period of 1,711 days spanning 214 Test matches.
Behind the scenes
Murali’s personal life came to the limelight when he married Madhimalar Ramamurthy, a Chennai girl, on March 21, 2005. Madhimalar is the daughter of late Dr S Ramamurthy of Malar Hospitals. His off-field life is as simple as he looks. He says he wakes up early no matter what. Of course, he has proved his determination years ago.
“I wake up at 5.45 sharp every day. I spend some concrete time in getting my son ready for his school. Once he leaves, I too go for running for three kilometers in my vicinity. Since I am into business as well, so I go to my office sometimes. I believe in early to bed and early rise,” shared Murali, who is continuing the legacy of his father Sinnasamy Muttiah’s biscuit making business.
Aam aadmi ka party
Every celebrity at one point misses being an aam aadmi. Murali has a different take on it. He says he is living his doosra (pun-intended) life of a common man. “When I started it off, cricket was not too professional. Now, it has become professional like any other day-to-day, 9 to 5 job. The only difference is we have the pressure to perform well each day, if we fail, we are out. May be, that’s why we are paid exorbitantly and above all, we gain popularity. When we bid adieu to the field, the popularity goes down drastically and we are back as a common man again. So one has to accept the ups and downs of a cricket player,” he quipps.
History can repeat
This highest wicket-taker, who holds a record of taking 800 wickets, said records are breakable. “Who would have expected that I would breakCourtney Walsh’s (519 wickets) record. I went past to take 300 more wickets. So it is possible for anybody to break any record,” adds the modest player.
Virat is now the new Sachin according to the social media. Murali completely disagrees to it. He says they cannot be compared. “They both are great players in their own way. Virat is proving himself and he has a lot more to prove. He is sure to go a long way. Whereas, Sachin has proved time and again. He is simply not called the ‘God of cricket’,” this Sri Lanka’s gift to the world opines.
MS Dhoni, of course tops the list of Murali’s favourite three captains in the world. “He is the best right now because he has more experience and he has also proved himself by winning world cups. The other captains of the current batch are very young and need more feathers in their caps. In the past we had Stephen Fleming, Nasser Hussain and Mahela Jayawardene,” he voices.
Dhoni is an edge over other captains because he is very calm and composed, Murali strongly believes.
“He handles emotions well. He always tries to encourage the bowlers and the team. He plans his strategies well. If one does not work then he makes another one immediately. So the players are not under pressure when you are playing with him. He makes it a point to appreciate his teammates. I think that is the best quality about him. He has earned immense respect of the team. That’s why he has been number one and will continue to be,” he adds with great admiration.
Cheergirls do an instant happy jig at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium at a match between Sunrisers Hyderabad and Mumbai Indians on Monday. Photo Vinay Madapu