Darryl Foster says
Muthiah Muralidaran may not tour Australia again - and it's
all our fault.
KEN PIESSE reports.
Behind Muthiah Muralidaran's wide grin and
affable manner is a troubled man seriously considering his
Darryl Foster, one of international cricket's
most respected coaches and a long-time Murali confidant says
the champion Sri Lankan spin bowler's threat not to tour Australia
again is serious.
"How much can any person take?"
says Foster. "For three tours now he has been abused
uphill and down dale.
"Why put yourself in that situation again?
"He wants to play as many Tests as he
can and the loyalty and team spirit perspective will weight
heavily. But in the end all the criticism has been so damaging.
"He has done brilliantly to survive like
he has. If this was happening to an Australian and he was
abused on three tours of a particular country, he wouldn't
go there a fourth time.
"I feel Murali has to consider it (touring
Australia again) very very carefully."
The Australian Cricket Board is currently in negotiations
with its Sri Lankan counterparts for several Tests to be played
back in Australia as early as October this year.
One of the Tests seems certain to be in Brisbane
where a minority of fans upset Murali with their taunts and
barracking during a recent VB Series match.
Ranked the No.1 bowler of the 20th century by Wisden, Murali
is his team's major drawcard and an outstanding player who
seems destined to take more Test wickets than anyone in the
history of the game.
Foster says Murali suffers nothing but anguish
downunder once outside the loyal Sri Lankan community.
"I was with him outside a hotel and a
bloke on a tram recognised him and yelled out 'Chucker!'
"They walk up to him and say, 'Can we
have your autograph chucker?'
"Why should he have to put up with that?"
"We're not being racist, but the Sri
Lankans think we are."
Foster says continuing condemnation of Murali's
controversial action is at the core of his reluctance to come
to Australia again.
He insists his action hasn't changed from
the time he first met Murali in the nets at Kent in the mid-'90s
and analysed him in 1995-96, the year he was first called
for throwing by umpire Darrell Hair.
His action remains identical, too, when he
bowls his alternative delivery, which leaves the right-handers.
"It's all in the wrist," says Foster.
"What the Good Lord took away in terms of elbow flexibility
and extention he gave him a very, very flexible wrist.
"I'd be disappointed if any umpire in
the world didn't think he was different
"He is different to any off spinner I've seen from Ian
Johnson and Freddie Titmus to John Emburey and Ashley Mallett.
"He uses his God-given talents differently"
Contracted to the Pakistan Cricket Board as
a specialist coach during the World Cup, Foster is preparing
a soon-to-be-published paper on Murali which he hopes will
clear the champion off-spinner once and for all.
"It (the criticism) only every happens
in Australia," he said. "Everywhere else they accept
him as a gifted talent. He's freakish and I mean that in the
nicest possible way."
Murali has a 21 per cent permanent bend in
his right elbow. His brother too is similarly afflicted.
Despite his protestations that his delivery
is fair, Murali's remarkable feats continue to be questioned.
Foster referred to umpires who had called
Murali in the past as being "pig-headed" and having
their own private agendas.
And he believed the recent criticisms from
retired umpire, Queenslander Lou Rowan was as poor as an example
of journalism as he could remember, as Rowan is almost 80
and has been out of the international game for 30 years.
A long-time lecturer in Human Movement and
Exercise Science at the University of Western Australia, Foster
is world-renowned for his coaching and tactical expertise.
He coached Western Australia to nine Sheffield Shields and
seven one-day titles in two decades. He has also coached and
advised extensively overseas and was responsible in 1996 and
1999 for the reports to the ICC from which Murali's action
was given a clean bill.
He says the methods in assessing Murali were
vastly different from the first to the second times and he
passed every test.
In recent times Foster has been to Kandy helping
Murali with the establishment of a Cricket Academy in his
home town of Kandy. He also assisted promising paceman Dilhara
Fernando with re-modelling his action
He describes Murali as one of his closest
"I admire him and feel for him,"
he said. "He hasn't deserved all of this."