ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, April 01, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 44

A tale of Kings and fleas

This week we will be musing on kings and fleas. Kings are people who are at the helm of a given community while fleas are parasites who live to prey on other people’s blood. First we will take the more pleasant of the subjects and then change gears to tread on the rotten path.

Wisden 2007, published on March 28, named Muttiah Muralitharan as the number one cricketer on earth for the year 2006 AD. Muralitharan thus become the fourth player to win the accolade of “Leading Cricketer in the World” since it was inaugurated. Wow! What a trek he made to finally arrive at the top of this mountain.

Quoting a Wisden news release it says “In his article celebrating the new No. 1, Simon Barnes attacks Murali’s critics: “They are a familiar type: sneerers and begrudgers, the pusillanimous possessors of small minds and large opinions. Muralitharan is a truly great cricketer, and those that cannot go along with such a sentiment have something lacking in their souls. The spirit of cricket, perhaps.”

Since Muralitharan made histTest debut against Australia at the R. Premadasa Stadium on August 28th 1992 the world of cricket started buzzing about this new phenomena and exploded into action on the Boxing Day Test at Melbourne in 1995 by umpire Darrel Hair when he noballed him on seven occasions. And a year that was followed by Muralitharan’s no balling by Ross Emerson and Tony Mcquillan in a one-day match at Brisbane. However since then all three pundits have gone into obscurity. Emerson retiring from that profession in 2004 and McQuillian unceremoniously dumped after that fateful match. The pioneer of this trio Hair continued for a while and ran a little too fast for the liking of the ICC hierarchy and was kicked into oblivion after his infamous Pakistan ball tampering spat.

When the Australian cricket machine started firing at Muralitharan the Lankan cricket authorities got into top gear with their defense act. With his career in jeopardy, Muralitharan's bowling action was analysed by University of Western Australia and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Reports from institutions who did the analysis concluded his action was legal.
The University of Western Australia photographed Murali's action at 1,000 frames per second from six different angles, concluding: `From certain angles he does look suspect but from other angles there was not a problem.' The `throwing' was a mere `optical illusion'.After a three and a half day high tech examination in Hong Kong, the university revealed that Muralitharan was physically incapable of fully extending his right arm and concluded that even his partially bent arm did not straighten when he bowled off-breaks or leg-breaks... Then at last the International Cricket Council (ICC) panel reviewed the evidence and cleared Muralitharan before the 1996 World Cup.

Once cleared Muralitharan’s bowling also started building up in stature. Suddenly he was in the princely company of Courtney Walsh, Wasim Akram, and Shane Warne etc…. the World’s highest wicket takers. However the detractors also trailed him like hungry vultures. Former Australian skipper Bob Simpson, Indian cricket captain Bishen Singh Bedi ,cricket writer Ted Corbett along with the Australian Prime Minister John Howard have been vociferous against the man’s bowling action even after he was cleared by the ICC for the second time when the ICC match referee Chris Broad reported him for delivering his ‘Doosra’. Then the ICC went to the extent of random recording most of the leading bowlers in the World at the ICC Cricket Championship held in England only to learn that even the revered bowlers living in the comfort zone were prove to bending their arms at the point of delivery – much more than the then accepted norms. This was the reason why the ICC stuck to their 15% bending rule and not to accommodate Muralitharan’s ‘doosra’. When a few misguided experts jump into the wrong conclusion, the fans at times go head on to it if it favours their own opinion. I remember once when the notorious ‘Barmy Army’ arrived in the island with the English Cricket team a section of the crowed kept on chanting “Throw, Throw , Throw your ball” in the tune of the famous nursery rhyme “Row,row,row your boat”. Then while Muralitharan was touring Australia a section of their crowed shouting no-ball at every delivery sent down by him.

But with every time his detractors pull back one inch, Muralitharan has run a few yards forwards and is still running and at the same time hinting that he may be there even at the 2011 World Cup which will once again be held in his own backyard.
He is man who has united a whole cricket crazy island into one view and at the same time put them on the World Map in no uncertain terms. This accolade bestowed upon him by the Wisden cricket almanac is a true appreciation of someone who has made a precise difference in the game of cricket.

The Blood suckers
Then we hear about some blood sucker parasites that are haunting the cricketing halls of Maitland Place. They say there are four court jesters who hover around the President’s room every morning to fill him up with all the new gossip, and now they are now in line to get an all paid Caribbean cruise in spite of the head of state having called a halt to this unethical happening.

Isn’t Sri Lanka Cricket in a bit of a financial crisis at this moment? Or is that that the Sri Lanka Cricket is rolling with money now and can afford to pay up for joy rides for the lackey’s and their wives? Aren’t there the former cricketers in the calibre of Anura Tennekoon, Bandula Warnapura, Champaka Ramanayake (the list is longer) who could go there and bring back some ideas that would help build the cricketing infrastructure in the country. In the time of their crisis Pakistan had their Media Manager as spokesman and if there is a crisis in the Sri Lanka dressing room may be manager Mr. Michael Tissera will have to wear another cap too. Coming back to the lackey’s these parasites will change their colours and allegiance with every changing cricket administration. However why are they so important to the administrators? Because these parasites are willing to barter their club votes for personal gain!

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.