Malcolm Conn in/for NewsCorp Australia, 22 December 2022, where the title reads “Hiring suspect spin king Muttiah Muralitharan a huge philosophy shift for Australian cricket”
THE appointment of Muttiah Muralitharan as a spin bowling consultant by the Australian cricket team shows a huge philosophical shift in Australian cricket and the ruthless pragmatism of Darren Lehmann.
Previous Australian spin bowling coaches such as Terry Jenner and Ashley Mallett have refused to teach the doosra to their understudies in the belief it cannot be bowled legally.
Now, the ultimate exponent of the delivery will be guiding the fortunes of Australia’s spinners. That’s quite a turnaround.
There has been no shortage of controversy and animosity between Murali and Australia over the years. Darrell Hair’s decision to ‘no ball’ him in the Boxing Day Test in 1995 set the tone, and subsequent clashes with umpire Ross Emerson during one-day internationals continued the trend.
The nadir was reached in 2004 when Prime Minister and noted cricket tragic John Howard was asked whether he thought Murali was a chucker. “Yes” Howard replied. “They proved it in Perth.”
Murali subsequently announced he would boycott the ensuing tour of Australia. That same year a panel of experts including Richie Benaud, Sunil Gavaskar, Barry Richards, Ian Botham and Michael Holding refused to select Muralitharan in the International Cricket Council’s team of the year after it emerged Botham and Holding harboured doubts over the legitimacy of his actions.
Murali was routinely heckled by Australian crowds over his controversial action and repeatedly queried by his great spin bowling contemporary Shane Warne.
Warne has delivered straight-forward views over the legality of Muralitharan’s action over the years, although it appears relations between the pair have thawed of late. Precisely what Warne thinks of Murali’s new role within Australian cricket is unclear, however.
Despite the many controversies, Murali’s action has been repeatedly cleared in test environments and he is officially recognised as the most prolific spin bowler of all time with 800 Test wickets.
What this appointment demonstrates clearly is that Lehmann is firmly in control of the decision-making within Australian cricket. Lehmann is determined to ensure that Australia’s players are prepared for all conditions and, with a Test series against Pakistan in the UAE looming, he is getting the best man for the job – regardless of historical context.
In my opinion, Muralitharan’s record will always have an asterisk next to it. Many purists, myself included, are doubtful over the legitimacy of his action, particularly when bowling the doosra.
Now the most controversial bowler the world has seen will be tutoring Nathan Lyon, Australia’s No. 1 spin bowler. We’re in for an interesting time.
A SPECIAL SET of NOTES by Michael Roberts, 10 January 2022
A: The date attached to this web item is odd: it sees Shane Warne as alive when he passed away from a heart attack at Koh Samui in Thailand on 4th March 2022 …. …………………………………………………………… https://www.google.com/search?q=shane+warne+dies&rlz=1C1ONGR_en-GBAU957AU957&oq=shane+warne+dies&aqs=chrome..69i57j0i512j0i22i30l4j0i10i22i30j0i22i30i455j0i390l2.6778j1j7
B: That Malcom Conn remains adamantine in believing that Murali chucked the ball is no surprise. He has always been a diehard Australian hardliner who insisted that Murali chucked …. and Conn continuously pressed this contention from an influential postion in Australian news circles — a position where he did not need a John Howard as back-up voice!
C: In continuing to insist that Murali was a chucker, Conn disregards the evidence provided by a wide range of studies over the years that pointed to another conclusion: namely (C1) Dr Buddy Reid’s examination of Murali’s arm at the MCG in late December 1995; (C2) The technical and scientific analyses effected by Daryl Foster, Jacque Alderson and others at the University of Western Australia’s unit in early January 1996; (C3) The scientific study done by Dr Ravi Goonetilleke of Hong Kong University in late January 1996; ….. AND …. thereafter, when Murali unleashed the doosra in the early 2000s, by several video studies pursued by international techincians with such personnel as Mark Nicholas and Ravi Shastri standing by.
E: Malcolm Conn needs to remove his blinkers and take note of the ‘deformities’ in Muralitharan’s wrist and his unique shoulder, physical dimensions which enabled him to generate unique deliveries of the ball –with the doosra unveiled in the early 2000s adding to his deadly capacities.