From The Australian, 7 December 2012
Muttiah Muralidaran, Shane Warne, Aaron Finch and David Hussey meet before tonight’s Big Bash League opener between the Melbourne Stars and Renegades at Etihd Stadium. Picture: Stuart Walmsley Source: The Australian
SRI Lanka spin wizard Muttiah Muralidaran says he’s not seeking revenge against Melbourne Stars’ recruit Brad Hodge despite Hodge helping to lure Murali to rival Melbourne Renegades. Test wicket world-record holder Murali, 40, has signed to play for the Renegades in the BBL Twenty20 at Etihad Stadium tonight as the Renegades host cross-town rivals and tournament favourites the Stars. T20 batting great Hodge has crossed to the Stars this summer and another ex-Renegade, Andrew McDonald, has joined the Adelaide Strikers.
“Hodge and McDonald convinced me to come and play Renegades,” Murali said yesterday. “At the time they were in the Renegades. Unfortunately they’re not there but still we have a good side.” Murali said he phoned Hodge recently to ask what happened to their plans to play together for the Renegades. “Yeah, he convinced me to come and play and after that he was gone to the Stars. So then I asked him, just a friendly call,” Murali said. “No revenge as such because we want to play a good game. We want to compete with them and see how it goes.”
Murali and his long-time rival Shane Warne, who boast more than 1500 Test wickets between them, will clash tonight. The 43-year-old Warne is captain of the Stars. Warne appeared genuinely moved at their joint press conference when Murali praised his Australian rival. “Once in a hundred years you can get a bowler like him. I have a lot of respect for him,” Murali said, adding reports of a rift between the pair over the years had been media hype.
Warne said: “Having Murali there weaving his magic, the whirly-twirly man, it should be a bit of fun. He’ll be smiling as well. Warne also said a Test comeback was not on his agenda, even though he is confident he could still knock over England in next year’s Ashes series. “I spoke to ‘Pup’ (Michael Clarke) on a few different matters,” Warne said. “That’s all been pretty cleared up about all that sort of stuff.” Warne said Test paceman Mitchell Starc’s comment that Warne’s 708-wicket Test career was “done and dusted” was fair enough. “He’s probably right,” Warne said. “I’m not asking Michael Clarke. My quotes were all about if you ask me could I do it, I have no doubt that I could. But it’s a big commitment. There’s grade cricket, there’s state cricket, you have to go through that process and hopefully get selected. For me it’s nothing that I’m even considering. I’m bowling as good as I possibly have for the last five or six years. At this stage if you ask me do I want to make a comeback? No. I’m concentrating on the Big Bash.”
Proud Melbourne product Warne said the city remained the sporting capital of the world. Officials hoped for a record crowd of 43,000 for the clash between the two great spinners.
“I feel ready to go. There’s a good vibe amongst our side,” Warne said. “They’ve got a very good side and so have we.”
Renegades skipper Aaron Finch was happy to play along with the “Hollywood” tag that has been applied to the star-studded Stars, whose line-up includes last summer’s player of the tournament David Hussey. “There’s been a lot of media hype around the Stars … but we’re confident that we can probably contend with the World XI over there,” Finch said.