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The Electronic Telegraph Australia v Sri Lanka
The Electronic Telegraph - 26-30 December 1995

Day 1

Muralitharan is called for throwing as ICC concerns are confirmed By Ihithisham Kamardeen

First Day: Australia (234-3) v Sri Lanka

MUTTIAH Muralitharan, the Sri Lankan off-spinner, was noballed for throwing seven times on the opening day of the second Test against Australia in Melbourne.

The controversy came only 24 hours after Sri Lanka had been cleared by the International Cricket Council of ball-tampering charges during the first Test in Perth.

Sri Lankan officials leapt to Muralitharan's defence yesterday after Australian umpire Darrell Hair had called him repeatedly in the course of three traumatic overs, but the International Cricket Council urged him to change his action and said he had been under suspicion for the past three years.

David Richards, the ICC's chief executive, said in a statement released through the Australian Cricket Board: ``We sincerely trust that the BCCSL [Sri Lanka Cricket Board of Control] will work with this player to take whatever corrective action is necessary so that he can continue to represent his country.''

Muralitharan, 23, was called for the fourth and sixth balls of his fourth over, the second, fourth and sixth of his fifth and the second and sixth of his sixth before being taken out of the attack.

He stood hands on hip and captain Arjuna Ranatunga had a brief consultation with Hair after the second call. Minutes later Ranatunga stormed off the field for two overs to consult team management.

Muralitharan, plainly disenchanted, snatched his cap from Hair after being called twice in his sixth over. Vice-captain Aravinda de Silva then had words with Hair and a sharp exchange with Ranatunga, and Muralitharan walked away with his head down.

He looked shattered by the incident, and was close to tears during the tea interval, but he then switched ends and escaped without censure from New Zealander Steve Dunne in the course of 12 overs which also brought the wicket of Mark Waugh, bowled for 61.

The Sri Lankans claimed it was a physical impossibility for Muralitharan to straighten his bent arm

An unbeaten 93 from David Boon, whose place has been under threat, ensured that Australia finished the day well placed on 234 for three. Boon shared in century stands for the second and third wicket, first in company with Michael Slater (62), then with Waugh.

The Sri Lankans claimed it was a physical impossibility for Muralitharan to straighten his bent arm which, under the relevant law, he must do to be called for throwing.

Dav Whatmore, the Australian who is Sri Lanka's coach, said: ``He has a physical deformity where he cannot straighten it - you can see by the way he throws the ball in the field.''

Both Whatmore and former Test captain Duleep Mendis, now manager, said it was unlikely that Muralitharan would bowl from Hair's end again in the match. ``We were shocked,'' Mendis said. ``One umpire called him, another didn't.''

Whatmore added: ``When I took over the job in June, I filmed Muttiah from six different angles and from certain angles he does look suspect but from other angles there was not a problem. I was quite convinced he was legitimate.

``As a unit we are all behind him. The best thing he could have done was to get a wicket or two.''

Whatmore was concerned about the mental scars which would ride with his most effective bowler.

``It will always be in the back of his mind,'' Whatmore said. ``He's going to have to live with that. He may need a small alteration to his action but it will be for him to stop and change midstream.''

Whatmore was quick to note that Hair could find nothing irregular when Muralitharan bowled at his end during last Thursday's oneday international in Sydney.

Richards defended Hair's stand, saying: ``The ICC has been aware for some time of speculation as to the legitimacy of this player's bowling action, and has taken the following steps:

``In 1993, the ICC referee Peter Burge spoke privately with several of the [previous] administration of the Sri Lankan board to relay his doubts arising from having watched the player bowl in the home series against India.

``In March 1995, when Sri Lanka toured New Zealand, ICC referee Barry Jarman was so concerned that he arranged for a slow-motion videotape of the bowler's action to be taken. This tape was forwarded through ICC to BCCSL.

``These steps have been taken in the player's interest''

``When Sri Lanka participated in the Sharjah one-day series in early October, the three umpires - Darrell Hair, Steve Dunne and Nigel Plew - advised the ICC referee Raman Subba Row of their concern and further footage was obtained which has been passed on to the BCCSL. Subba Row spoke to the Sri Lankan manager and coach at the end of the series.

``ICC has been informed by the BCCSL that the video footage has been reviewed and understand that the player has been informed, though we do not know whether the player has seen the video or been advised of a number of umpires' concern about his action,'' Richards said.

``These steps have been taken in the player's interest to try and avoid him of being called for an illegal delivery in international cricket.

``Nonetheless, it is every umpire's duty to apply the laws of cricket fully and impartially and we stand in full support of these umpires who execute this responsibility to the best of their ability. The relevant law is clear and the game of cricket cannot accept any break of this law.''

Day 2

Dilemma over spinner - Ihithisham Kamardeen

Sri Lanka are 29-1 in reply to Australia's 500-6 dec

ENDING Muttiah Muralitharan's Australian tour was one of the options considered by two senior members of the Sri Lankan cricket board, captain Arjuna Ranatunga and his vice-captain Aravinda De Silva in an hour-long meeting yesterday.

However, they failed to reach a firm conclusion on the fate of the off-spinner no-balled for throwing by Australian umpire Darrell Hair on the first day of the second Test at the MCG. Hair no-balled Muralitharan, 23, seven times in the space of three overs when bowling from his end.

Muralitharan switched ends and bowled another 32 overs, including 20 yesterday, without being called by New Zealand umpire Steve Dunne.

The latest development took place after the Australian batsmen mauled a predictably modest Sri Lankan attack for 500 for six declared. The visitors were soon in trouble on 29 for one at stumps on the second day.

Anura Tennekoon, secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka, said it was essential to discover exactly what Hair finds illegal about Muralitharan's style of delivery.

``We want to find exactly from the umpire why some were called and some weren't,'' he said. ``Then we can establish what the fault is.''

When asked whether Muralitharan would continue to be selected after this Test, Tennekoon said: ``It is one of the things we will have to sit down and discuss more.''

Rumours swept the ground Muralitharan would have been called after tea had he returned to the bowling crease. He did not.

Former Australian Test spinner Bruce Yardley, himself called for throwing in the West Indies, was disgusted over the no-balling.

``We should be celebrating his action not trying to run him out of the game. There is no way Muttiah has to change his action [because his arm stays bent throughout]. If he straightened his arm like they say he does, the ball would go 50 metres over the wicketkeeper's head.''

Yardley coached Muralitharan in Sri Lanka in 1991 and worked on his action.

On the field, David Boon resurrected his ailing Test career with his 21st century, while Ricky Ponting looked a player of promise with his second fifty in as many innings.

Steve Waugh, returning to the side after missing the first Test through injury, damaged his left hamstring during the course of his unbeaten 131.

Day 3

McGrath's five pushes unhappy Sri Lankans closer to defeat By Ihithisham Kamardeen in Melbourne

Third day of five: Sri Lanka (233 & 33-1) need 234 runs to make Australia (500-6 dec) bat again

A DEVASTATING bowling performance from fast-bowler Glenn McGrath has set up Australia an early kill, temporarily overshadowing the yesterday.

Sri Lanka's batsmen, apart from the captain Arjuna Ranatunga and Romesh Kaluwitharana failed to offer any resistance.

A rampant McGrath took five wickets for 40, putting Australia on course for their fourth Test win inside four days this summer.

An undistinguished day with the bat by the Sri Lankans rescued the side, not from defeat, but from the immediate dilemma of what to do about off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan. It is a virtual certainty that he will not be required to bowl again in this match.

Sri Lanka need a further 234 runs to avoid the ignominy of an innings defeat after being bowled out for 233. In the second innings they finished the third day on 33 for one in reply to Australia's 500 for six declared.

A vastly improving McGrath, 25, bowled intimidatingly throughout his 23.4 overs, extracting disconcerting bounce, which was rather unusual at this stage of a Test at the MCG.

It seemed as though the pitch had suddenly sprung to life after the Sri Lankan medium seam-bowlers had toiled for two days without much luck.

McGrath put his day's success to ``good rhythm'' and said: ``I am more confident now than I was when I first started. I have learned a lot more playing at this level.''

McGrath hit Hashan Tillekeratne four times on the right shoulder, twice in one over, during a hurricane seven-over spell after lunch, during which he claimed the wicket of a struggling Aravinda de Silva.

McGrath was supported by some brilliant catching, a 100 per cent day for the Australians, Michael Slater pulling off the best, the ball taken above the head as he ran backwards to end Sri Lanka's innings.

Ranatunga's calculated assault on Warne earned him a straight six and six boundaries before the leg-spinner was duly removed from the attack.

Ranatunga, struck on his injured right hand early by a lifting ball from McGrath, hit 51 before he was snapped up by a diving Warne at third-slip off McDermott.

The devil-may-care Kaluwitharana hit 50 off 58 balls, including seven boundaries, before he hooked McDermott to deep square-leg giving Boon his 98th Test catch.

De Silva, in a slump after scoring 10 and 20 in the first Test, fell to smart catch in the gully by Paul Reiffel off McGrath for 18. McGrath also took the wickets of Wickremasinghe and the final batsman Muralitharan.

McGrath's assault on middle-order batsman Hashan Tillekeratne was particularly vicious. Several times he bruised the arms, shoulders and back of the plucky left-hander with rising deliveries.

Taylor again showed his tactical imagination by bringing on part-time medium pacer Ricky Ponting early in the first innings.

Ponting bowled a maiden with his swing and then gained his first wicket in his second over of Test cricket, when he had Gurusinha caught behind for 27.

The Sri Lankans in their second innings had to see out the day's remaining 13 overs, and Reiffel had Roshan Mahanama caught at third-slip with his first ball. this was the batsman's second failure of the match and could cost him his place in next month's third Test at Adelaide.

Day 4

Gurusinha's 143 beats the pain barrier - Ihithisham Kamardeen

Fourth day of five: Sri Lanka (233 & 284-6) lead Australia (5006d) by 17 runs

AN excruciating blow to the groin temporarily delayed the strokeplay of Asanka Gurusinha, but it failed to dent his pride or his determination to score a century which delayed the inevitable - an Australian win.

Gurusinha's career-best 143 provided the backbone of a disciplined Sri Lankan second innings of 284 for six, after following on, but that left them with a meagre lead of 17.

There is not much to come for Sri Lanka, though an ailing Arjuna Ranatunga has fought diligently for almost an hour with a suspected broken hand.

It was not all plain sailing for Gurusinha. On 85 he took a painful blow to the midriff from Craig McDermott. At least five minutes elapsed before he regained his composure and was able to continue.

He took 70 minutes for his next eight runs, uncharacteristic of someone who had taken the attack to the Aussies earlier in his innings.

It was Gurusinha's seventh Test century and only the second by a Sri Lankan in Australia after Aravinda de Silva's epic 167 at Brisbane six years ago. As the milestone neared the batsman's caution became extreme.

Tall, strong and a sweet timer of the ball, Gurusinha lofted Shane Warne for six over midwicket and handled the spinner well. Forceful drives were a feature of his innings.

``This is the best hundred I have ever made. This bowling attack is one of the world's best. I wanted to play positive cricket rather than bat the entire day,'' Gurusinha said.

The Sri Lankans showed impressive collective fight and even under compulsive pressure de Silva kept his cool as he eked out 28 off 75 balls, batting close to two hours.

As often is the case when a side follow on, the Australian attack did not quite have the killer edge of the first innings, when the Sri Lankans were wrecked by some fearsome bowling from Glenn McGrath, but Sri Lanka, to their credit, showed more fight than many nations of greater reputation have displayed against Australia in recent years.

They lost only five wickets for the day and two of those fell to questionable lbw verdicts by New Zealand umpire Steve Dunne.

Chandika Hathurusinghe had impressively steadied himself for a long stay before a top spinner from Warne struck him on a legstump line for a borderline verdict.

Dunne spent four seconds deliberating and just when Hathurusinghe's anguish was on the verge of receding, the finger went up.

The heroic Gurusinha, playing with a fractured thumb, may also have been unlucky when Paul Reiffel claimed him lbw from round the wicket.

The chucking furore over Muttiah Muralitharan, no-balled for throwing seven times in this Test had fuelled the Sri Lankans attacking spirits. ``It has really motivated the whole team a lot,'' Gurusinha said.

Day 5

Official approval for Muralitharan - Ihithisham Kamardeen

SRI LANKA will play a type of Russian roulette with off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan and select him for the second half of the World Series programme.

The decision followed Sri Lanka's 10-wicket defeat in the second Test at Melbourne yesterday and the Australian Cricket Board's refusal to grant them permission for a meeting with umpire Darrell Hair to clarify the legitimacy of Muralitharan's action, which has brought ``no objection'' from the International Cricket Council.

The team manager, Duleep Mendis, said yesterday there was no reason for Muralitharan to be banished, because he was called by one umpire for seven deliveries.

``We will let it go game by game. There are two different umpires coming up for the one-day match.''

Source: The Electronic Telegraph
Editorial comments can be sent to The Electronic Telegraph at et@telegraph.co.uk