Murali magic in Melbourne
by Dr Quintus de Zylva photos by Hemal G (SNNI )
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.
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
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.