Darryl Foster says Muthiah Muralidaran may not tour Australia again – and it’s all our fault.

KEN PIESSE reports. Article courtesy of Cricket Week Online

Behind Muthiah Muralidaran’s wide grin and affable manner is a troubled man seriously considering his future downunder.

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 cricket friends.

“I admire him and feel for him,” he said. “He hasn’t deserved all of this.”