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Australia v Sri Lanka
The Daily News - 26-30 December 1995


By Elmo Rodrigopulle

The Sri Lankan cricketers, who were unfortunately and unsportingly psyched to defeat in the first Test by the Australians must forget that defeat and start all over again when they front up to the kangaroos in the Second Test starting in Melbourne tomorrow.

They must put the 'Muralitheran action controversy' and the what is obvious now, the premeditated 'ball-tampering accusation', behind them and fire all cylinders at the Aussies and rub them down.

While the 'Muralitheran action affair' has now been, signed, sealed and delivered as perfect and legitimate, after close scrutiny by the umpires and the TV cameras during the First Test, what is not sporting is the dilly-dallying or the delaying tactics by the lords at Lord's on the ball-tampering affair concerning Sri Lanka.

The umpires, Parker and Hyatt and match referee Dowling were howling when finding the Lankans guilty with no chance to forward their defence arguments. The matter is now before the ICC and instead of quickly putting their signatures to the verdict of the adjudicators, or rejecting it, the ICC seem to be sleeping on it.

Obviously the ICC must be on a sticky wicket what with no evidence to prove the Lankans guilty. What is essential in any conviction is EVIDENCE. And this is nowhere to be seen or found since the ball in question had not been preserved as evidence.

Instead by continuing to play with that ball the umpires have in their eagerness to lynch the Lankans, obliterated whatever evidence.

As such the ICC need not look any further, but deliver an unanimous verdict of NOT GUILTY. The complainants must not be allowed scot free. They brought disgrace to the game, the players and above all the country and they must be dealt with, with the wrong side of the bat.

To recap, the Sri Lankans although losing the First Test, showed that they have it in them to stretch the Aussies, or at times get on top of them in certain situations.

Admitted that the Aussies are a strong combination in all departments of the game. But the Lankans must believe in themselves and also remember that the homesters are not invincible as proved by the Pakistanis when they beat them in the final test.

The Lankans must take the field with that second to none feeling and what is important is that they fire out that dashing opener Michael Slater early. Allowed to prosper Slater can slaughter the Lankan attack as he proved in first test and take the game away from the Lankans.

A Merry X'mas to all our readers.

Bernie Wijesekera reporting from MCG, Australia

The Sri Lanka test team has been bestowed with a rare honour by the ACB by staging the second test match against Australia on boxing day (Dec 26 th) at the MCG.

Boxing day is ``a big day'' for cricket and the most important event of the year. It is a splendid occasion for the Lankan team to prove their mettle with a courageous performance watched by over 70,000 fans. A big proportion of Lankans domiciled in Melbourne will be there to support them.

The Sri Lanka team had a long workout at the nets Sunday amid cold weather similar to Sydney when they lost the world series match in a cliff hanger to Australia. Manager Duleep Mendis said that they were confident of giving an improved performance at the MCG.

Q-What about the weather conditions? Yes, they must get acclimatised to it and play accordingly. Excuses are not the remedy to overcome problems. One cannot expect to enjoy the same playing conditions like at home. When Aussies come to Sri Lanka they too face similar problems, players must have courage, Mendis added.

Sri Lanka fought back well in the Perth test to stretch the Aussies though beaten by a big margin. The Lankan top order batsmen must show more professional skills and bat with responsibility to build a big score. It was evident that the lower order was called upon to prop the batting in the Perth test, to bring some sort of respectability to the total.

Of course Hashan Tillekaratne showed maturity and had the confidence to play the Aussie bowling according to its merits. Left hander Tillekaratne who scored a masterly 119 is now tagged as the one of the best in world.

The openers have failed in their act to give a good start. Roshan Mahanama and Hathurusinghe must strive to give a good start for others to bat with assurance.

The Aussies will be at full strength with return of Steve Waugh and Paul Rieffel who have fully recovered from their injuries. They come at the expense of Julian and unlucky Stuart Law who scored a debut 54 not out against Sri Lanka.

Coach Dave Whatmore told the Daily News that he was confident of the boys doing well at the MCG. ''They are improving. With better application they should give a gritty performance in this memorable match. I am disappointed with the fielding at the SCG. I am surprised that the Sri Lanka fielding lapsed even under cold weather. This cost the team dearly in the world series match against Australia.

The tour management has still to finalise the final XI for the test. Skipper Ranatunga one of the most experienced test players in the modern game who has scored 577 runs against Australia with an average of 44.38 is the one to watch in this match for guts and determination.

The other player is dashing Aravinda De Silva who made a superb 75 in the Sydney one dayer. He will be the cynosure of all eyes at the MCG. His return to form should be an inspiration to the others.

Manager Mendis said two names will be added to the Perth elevenNumber 1 wicket keeper Chamara Dunusinghe and left arm spinner Jayantha Silva.

Chamara who is a better keeper than Kaluwithana in all probability will play. If Silva plays it will be an epic test debut for the lad - that too on boxing day.

Tony Ware the curator at the MCG has worked months for the preparation of this wicket for the big cricket event. He had to work with a staff of six and three rollers to prepare this pitch which will turn out to give both batsmen and bowlers an equal opportunity to display their skills.

Sri Lanka from; Arjuna Ranatunga (Capt), R Mahanama, C Hathurusinghe, A Gurusinghe, A De Silva, H Tillekaratne, K Dharmasena, R KaluwithanaC Dunusinghe, P Wickramasinghe, C Vaas, M Muralitharan, J Silva.

Australia from; M Taylor (Capt), M Slater, D Boon, M Waugh, S Waugh, R Ponting, I Healy, S Warne, Paul Rieffel, C McDermott, G McGrath.

Day 1

Murali's career in shambles - Bernie Wijesekera

Muttiah Muralideran's career has been put in shambles on the first day of the boxing day second test between Sri Lanka and Australia, when he was called 'no' on seven occasions by umpire Hair for throwing. In the second session after lunch 'Murali' was called by Hair. But he bowled two from the Members stand before New Zealand umpire Steve Dunne's and had no problems. The ICC last night approved Hair's decision of calling 'Murali' for throwing and wanted the Sri Lanka Cricket Board to take appropriate measures to save the bowler's career which was in jeopardy as a result of being called by umpire Hair for throwing.

In a release it also adds that the ICC was aware for some time of speculation as to the legitimacy of the bowler's action and has taken the following steps. Iqn 1993 in the series between Sri Lanka and India match referee Peter Burge has spoken privately about the action of the bowler to the BCCSL administrators to relay doubts arising after watching the player bowl against India.

In 1995 series against New Zealand early this year match referee Barry Jarman held similar views about 'Muralis' action. Jarman arranged for a slow motion action of the bowler on a videotape. This tape was forwarded through the ICC to the BCCSL. This tape was watched by a senior umpire in the international panel, cricket manager, chairman of selectors and unofficial of the BCCSL who had a close look at the videotape, but found no extra-ordinary lapse in the bowler's action.

A statement signed by the chairman of the ICC Sir Clyde Walcott and chief executive David Richards (joint signatories) had expressed their misgivings of 'Murali's action. It also states that three international umpires and two match referees have brought to their notice of the bowler's action.

Dave Whatmore the tour cricket manager defended Muralideran's action. 'Murali' is unable to straighten his elbow for a start. Probably there is some deformity, Whatmore said.

But surprisingly neutral umpire Steve Dunne at no stage of this game called 'Murali' who bowled throughout the first day's play and continued to bowl today (Dec. 27) showed any concern or called the bowler for throwing. Umpire Hair has acted on Law 24 it states.

For a delivery to be fair, the ball must be bowled, but not thrown. If either umpire is not satisfied with the absolute fairness of a delivery in this respect he shall call and signal 'no ball' instantly upon delivery.

'Murali' - eighth Test bowler to be 'called' - Sa'adi Thawfeeq

Not a Test passes without the Australians trying to 'do' the Sri Lankans 'in'.

The opening day of the Second Test at Melbourne yesterday turned out to be a sensational one when in the afternoon session of play, Australian umpire Darrell Hair no-balled Sri Lanka's leading Test wicket-taker Muthiah Muralitharan seven times for 'throwing' from the bowler's end.

This was not surprising because prior to the commencement of the three-Test series, the Australian media had begun a campaign speculating on Muralitharan's bowling action. He was passed over by the umpires in the Perth Test - Paul Parker and Khizer Hyatt, who were more interested on whether the Sri Lankans tampered with the ball than worry over Muralitharan's action.

But Hair standing in his 14th Test match went into the history books by no-balling Muralitharan for the first time in the offspinner's career.

Muralitharan's bowling action has been under the microscope since he took five wickets and bowled Sri Lanka to its first-ever Test win over England at the SSC grounds in February 1992.

Despite playing around the world, Muralitharan has never been called for 'chucking' although his action had been discussed and criticised in cricketing circles.

Hair had watched the 23-year-old bowler carefully during the 3nation Singer Champions trophy tournament in Sharjah this year and reported his action to the International Cricket Council (ICC). The Sri Lanka Cricket Board had also been informed of the contents of this report.

New Zealand umpire Steve Dunne (who is standing in the current Test with Hair) and England's Nigel Plews were the other ICC appointed umpires who officiated with Hair in Sharjah.

Muralitharan sent down nearly 6000 deliveries in 22 Tests and become his country's leading wicket-taker with 80 Test wickets before being labelled a 'chucker'.

He goes into the record books as the eighth bowler called for throwing in Test cricket (if one actually takes into serious consideration the actions of Indian ABID ALI and England's DAVED GOWER).

Abid Ali was called for throwing in a Test against New Zealand at Christchurch in 1967-8 by umpire Fred Goodall when he deliberately threw one ball in protest against the action of Gary Bartlett who had not been 'called'.

Gower, also deliberately chucked the final ball of the Test against New Zealand at Trent Bridge in 1986 and thus became the first England bowler to be called for throwing in a Test in England.

These two incident apart, the other five were genuine cases, starting with ERNEST JONES, who was the first bowler to be noballed for throwing in Test cricket. The Australian fast bowler was called once by umpire J. Phillips in the pre-lunch session on the third day of the Test against England at Melbourne in 1897-8.

Jones was playing in only his eighth Test, but went onto represent his country in 11 more, taking an overall tally of 64 wickets.

Australian left-arm fast bowler IAN MECKIFF was the last bowler to be called for throwing before Muralitharan. [This is incorrect as Zimbabwe's HENRY OLONGO was called for throwing in the Test against Pakistan at Harare in 1994-95 - CI.] He was called four times in his only over of the Test by Australian umpire Colin Egar against South Africa at Brisbane in 1963-64. Meckiff subsequently announced his retirement from all first-class cricket. He took 45 wickets from 18 Tests.

England's slow left-arm spinner TONY LOCK appearing in only his fifth Test was no-balled once for throwing in the second innings against West Indies at Kingston in 1953-4, but it did not deter him, for he went on to play in 49 Tests and take 174 wickets.

South African fast bwoler GEOFFREY GRIFFIN in only his second test was called 11 times for throwing by umpire Frank Lee in England's only innings at Lord's in 1960. Despite this setback, Griffin became the only bowler to take a hat-trick for South Africa when he dismissed Mike Smith with the last ball of one over and Peter Walker and Fred Trueman with the first two of the next. Griffin played no further Tests and did not bowl again on the tour.

HASEEB AHSAN, the Pakistani off-break bowler completes the list. He was called for chucking in a Test against India at Bombay in 1960-1. He went on to play in four further Tests afterwards taking 27 wickets in 12 Tests overall.

What fate awaits Muralithran, only time will tell.

Source: The Daily News