Muttiah Muralitharan chucking issue raises its head once again… : Three Australian centres and Hong Kong clear Lankan bowler – Aussie Surgeon Dr. David Young – by Clifford Landers reporting from Australia.

MELBOURNE Jan. 11 – Once again the Muttiah Muralitharan chucking issue was raised here a few days ago, but on this occasion it was more or less in favour of the controversial off-spinner.

The controversial issue was relayed on the regular television lunch break program ‘Cricket Show’ on Channel Nine during day three of the fifth Ashes Test between Australia and England in Sydney last Saturday. Channel Nine commentators and former Aussie cricketers Simon O’Donnell and Ian Healy hosted the programme.

During the programme Australian Orthopaedic Surgeon Dr. David Young was seen holding Muralitharan’s hand in person and he explained in detail and confirmed that ‘Murali’ had very flexible wrists unlike any other bowler. Dr. Young explained that, ‘Murali is also unable to stretch his elbow and that it was a deformity to the arm’”.

“He was tested in four centres previously in Western Australia, Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, Institute of Sports in Canberra and also in Hong Kong. “We had slow motion video’s taken and closely watched them.

These four centres cleared him. And yet it was only a couple of Australian umpires decided who that they did not agree with what was found”, Dr. Young said.

Former Australian skipper and commentator Richie Benaud said “I had absolutely no opinion on bowling actions from the moment the ICC took over the role of the umpire. Now they do say that these days an umpire can still call a bowler. Don’t you believe it? You can just forget about that and an umpire will not call a bowler because of all the trouble that it had caused. I think the stories about Muralitharan are more than those that have been written about anyone whose actions have been cleared.

Now I don’t think he’s been unfairly handled but I think some of the umpires have been unfairly treated”, he said.

Ian Healy said, “what really infuses the whole issue is the fact that if you watch his hand, he can really flick a ball out of his hand with an exceptional range of moving his wrist like no other bowler in the world and he has a freakish ability to spin a ball with his wrist on a bent arm. But he doesn’t throw”.

Muralitharan said during the programme that “what I think is that the ICC had done a very good job because a panel decides whether it is good or not. That’s fair by everyone”.

When asked about his aggression, Murali said: “The other thing about aggression is just that smile. Whatever they say, just smile and ignore them”.

Ian Healy said: “Murali doesn’t have to say anything because he can bamboozle the best of the batsmen and the worst. During the end of my career, I had no idea how to play him”.

In relation to his action, Healy said, “There’s murmurings and rumblings around the player group in Australia and there always has been among the world player group that he’s never been cleared properly. I was very interested to hear what Orthopaedic Surgeon said that Muralitharan has been tested in four centres. The players don’t know that.

Now let’s get those results and filter them down to the players and every question mark, every last shadow of doubt is finished and then he will be all right. So yes, there are yet questions, rumblings and murmuring going on around the world and they are not aware that so much of testing is been done and the clearing of Muralitharan.”

Commenting on Muralitharan- Wisden’s Bowler of the Century award, Ian Healy said, “I don’t agree with it because statistics alone cannot be taken into consideration because there’s so many things that go in to these ratings. You must admit that Clarie Gimmett, Shane Warne or any other Australian bowler, they probably got a better record around the world than Muttiah has in this part of the world.

So I like to see him over here performing. Before he did, I am sure he would perform really well because he is world class.

So he should be in that top bracket and the rate he gets those wickets especially in the last 12 or 18 months has been phenomenal and that pumps his ratings up too. Murali is statistically the best bowler no doubt”.

When asked what is Murali in bowling, Healy in lighter vein said, “historical” and added “one thing the Australian batsmen aren’t used to doing is having to look at the hand. He is such a difficult bowler to read because having to look at the hand of an off-spinner to see what is coming out. Murali is a normal off-spinner but he doesn’t even deliver his off-spinner normally. He delivers it by flipping it over and then he delivers the one that goes the other way.

We are not used to seen that and therefore it takes a lot of energy and lot of concentration to watch his hand because it is not natural to us as batsmen”.

He said “probably the only criticism of Murali and I think it is very fair to make that comparison with Shane Warne.

He hasn’t done all that in Australia and the Australians haven’t seen the best of him here yet”, quipped Healy.

Source : Sunday Observer Sri Lanka