Murali magic in Melbourne

by Dr Quintus de Zylva photos by Hemal G (SNNI )

Muttiah Muralitharan was guest of honour at a gala dinner at the Knox Tavern
on Friday. A packed audience was kept spellbound for some hours when Melbournians turned out in their casual summer outfits to pay tribute to their Sri Lankan idol.

The evening commenced with a minute’s silence in honour of the legendary Eddie Gray followed by the welcome to guests from overseas and interstate. Tom Thompson – Bradman’s Publisher – presented Murali with a cricket ball that had been signed by Sir Donald Bradman.
Joe Hoad – ex Barbados Cricket Captain and well-known sports psychologist
had the audience in fits of laughter when he spoke of his long term admiration of Murali. He then presented Murali with a portrait that Joe himself had done especially for the occasion.

Dr. David Young spoke of his long association with Murali and demonstrated Murali’s fixed flexion deformity and hyper-mobile joints before the Channel 4 video of Murali bowling with a metal arm brace in England under the watchful eye of Mark Nicholas was screened.

Ravi Shastri sang the praises of this Sri Lankan spinner whilst Dean Jones spoke of his conversion to the Murali camp.

David and Cathy Cruse and the Knox Tavern turned out a sumptuous smorgasbord that was watered down with a specially manufactured Murali Chardonnay 700 from the wineries of McLaren Vale in South Australia and a Murali Cabernet Merlot 600 from the wineries of Sandy Hollow in the Hunter Valley of NSW.

The Hot Six Jazz Makers provided music that set the tone of the evening whilst guest artistes Derrick J and Hailey Cramer (of Australian Idol fame) sang their favourite songs.

Ian Crawford presented Murali with a plaque from the Sri Lanka Cricket Foundation of Victoria to commemorate this happy occasion and proposed a toast in honour of Murali.

Special guests at this glamour evening included Ayoma from Maharagama – a school girl when she was injured in the Maradana bomb blast some years ago and who subsequently spent three months in Melbourne where she had surgery. Ayoma’s new found confidence was matched only by Murali’s aura. Ceylinco was represented at the evening with
Lady Cecile Kotelawala an honoured guest.

The glossy A4 souvenir was a much sought after publication with advertisements from the Beach Wadiya, Janashakthi, Dilmah, Ceylon Tea and Visit
Lanka providing the balance to the local ads from Ralph D’Silva Holden, Kingsgrove Sports, Curry and Chips and several sporting organizations who paid tribute to Murali’s greatness. Tributes from Frank Tyson. Nigel Kerner, Peter Roebuck and Skandakumar were printed
with words of congratulation from the Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs Jeevan Kumaranatunga, Sri Lanka Cricket, Thilanga Sumathipala, Duleep Mendis and Major General Janaka Perera.

The Sri Lankan High Commissioner spoke of the hurdles that Murali had to overcome in his quest of perfection to reach the pinnacle of test match bowling records. Murali thanked all those present and especially the Sri Lanka Cricket Foundation of Victoria, David and Cathy Cruse and Dr. David Young and the Melbourne Orthopaedic Group.

The good news was that the MRI scan showed no abnormality and Murali has now been asked to slowly ease himself into the rigors of international cricket. Hopefully he should be fit to play in the test matches in New Zealand in January 2005.