Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Muttiah Muralitharan World's Best Spinner


Muttiah Muralitharan was rated the greatest Test match bowler ever by Wisden Cricketers' Almanack in 2002. He retired from Test cricket in 2010, registering his 800th and final wicket on 22 July 2010 from his final ball in his last Test match. Muralitharan took the wicket of Gautam Gambhir on 5 February 2009 in Colombo to surpass Wasim Akram's ODI record of 501 wickets. He became the highest wicket-taker in Test cricket when he overtook the previous record-holder Shane Warne on 3 December 2007. Muralitharan had previously held the record when he surpassed Courtney Walsh's 519 wickets in 2004, but he suffered a shoulder injury later that year and was then overtaken by Warne. 


Averaging over six wickets per Test, Muralitharan is one of the most successful bowlers in the game. Muralitharan held the number one spot in the International Cricket Council’s player rankings for Test bowlers for a record period of 1,711 days spanning 214 Test matches.
Muralitharan's career has been beset with controversy; his bowling action called into question on a number of occasions by umpires and sections of the cricket community. After biomechanical analysis under simulated playing conditions, Muralitharan's action was cleared by the International Cricket Council, first in 1996 and again in 1999 Former Australian Test player, Bruce Yardley, who himself was an off spinner in his day, was assigned with the task of ensuring Muralitharan bowled all his deliveries with the same vigour as he would do so in match conditions when tested in 2004. 

Muralitharan had not commenced bowling the doosra at this time. The legality of his doosra was first called into question in 2004. This delivery was found to exceed the ICC elbow extension limit by nine degrees, five degrees being the limit for spinners at that time. Based on official studies into bowling actions, which revealed that 99% of bowlers whose actions were examined exceeded the elbow flexion limits, ICC revised the limits applying to all bowlers in 2005. Muralitharan's doosra falls within the revised limits. In February 2009, after becoming cricket's highest wicket-taker in both forms of the game Muttiah Muralitharan hinted that he might retire at the conclusion of the 2011 World Cup. 

He stated "I think I am fit in my body and mind, I am enjoying my cricket and want to play more. But after the next World Cup, I will have nothing left to achieve in the game. The World Cup should mark the end of my career." Muralitharan announced his retirement from Test cricket after the first Test against India at Galle which commenced on 18 July 2010. During that match he captured 8 wickets and became the first to reach the milestone of taking 800 Test wickets by dismissing Pragyan Ojha. 

Beyond the world record

In July 2008, Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis stopped India's strong batting as Sri Lanka won the first Test by a record innings and 239 runs in Colombo. Muralitharan finished the match with 11 wickets for 110, as India were shot out for 138 in their second innings after conceding a lead of 377 on the fourth day. He was well supported by debutant Ajantha Mendis, an unorthodox spinner with plenty of variation, who took eight wickets in his debut match. Muralitharan believed the emergence of Mendis would help prolong his own career. Muralitharan, 36, and 23-year-old Mendis formed a formidable partnership in the first Test thrashing of India, taking 19 of the 20 wickets between them. "If he keeps performing this way, he will definitely take a lot of wickets in international cricket. Now that he has come, I think I can play Test cricket a few more years. Bowling 50 overs in a Test innings is very hard. Now if I bowl only 30–35 and he bowls more than me, the job will get easier for me." 

Five wickets in an innings

Muralitharan has taken five or more wickets in an innings on 67 occasions in Test cricket, which is a world record. In comparison Shane Warne who is in second place has performed the feat 37 times.

Table: Test bowling performance
A Summary of Muralitharan's Test bowling performance against all opponents.
VersusMOMRW5w10wBestAvg

Australia13*685.3100212859516 for 5936.07

Bangladesh11452.01141190891146 for 1813.37

England161102.13482247112849 for 6520.06

India221125.22153297105728 for 8732.32

New Zealand14753.2203177682516 for 8721.53

Pakistan16782.5184202780516 for 7125.46

South Africa15984.422123111041147 for 8422.22

West Indies12622.3143160982938 for 4619.62

Zimbabwe14786.5259146787629 for 5116.86

Overall (9)1337339.517941818080067229 for 5122.72


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