Indian Tamil Champion!

Topic started by Kalk (@ on Thu Apr 25 19:54:46 .
All times in EST +10:30 for IST.

Murali is an upcountry Tamil.

Muralitharan, up close and personal



UMBAI: Lean mean and hungry for more that about sums up Muthaiyah Muralitharan, Sri Lanka's off-spinner extraordinaire.

The man sure likes to play. This correspondent met him in Mumbai during the Ceat show when he was awarded as the cricketer of the year.

When asked about the tough Lankan schedule, he said: "Better to be playing than being home."

The contrast with some of our stars who whine about `too much cricket' and don't talk of the too much money they make couldn't be more stark.

Here are some interesting things about Murali, whose future has been clouded by a shoulder ligament injury that will make him miss the England tour.

Murali is a bachelor. He has three brothers. He is not very avaricious like some of the earlier stars, happy with the one Peugot car he has.

Does not crib about too much cricket and has a lot of mutual respect for today's stars like Sachin and Lara. His icon Viv Richards.

Does he think of Courtney Walsh's record of 519 wickets? "I haven't set any goals. I think, if I play for 4-5 years, hopefully, I will break the record."

Nine wickets and the tenth got away. Murali tell us that he didn't think about the record. He was more focused on the team's success.

Does he want to lead Sri Lanka one day as Shane Warne does? "Actually in Sri Lanka, the captains are always there for a long time. So by the time it's my turn, I would have passed my age. In my opinion, captaincy should go to a much younger person. It is only fair."

As a Tamilian playing among Sinhalese, has he suffered any discrimination? "Not at all. We play as a team. Not as Tamilians or Sinhalese. There are two or three Tamilians in the current team." He is an icon of national integration in a strife torn country. How does it feel? "I am proud of myself. It feels great but I try to be very simple as a person."

What does he think of the Ceat award? "It's a privilege and an honour." But he is quick to point out: "Cricket is a team game. But if players start playing for the sake of motivations like awards, money etc. their performance is going to deteriorate. As they will be satisfied with some rewards at the end of the year."

He is grateful to his captains. He can't forget how Ranatunga backed him in the chucking controversy. He doesn't put in too much personal preparation before a game.

"The team does the planning, but personally I don't think too much. If you think too much one gets nervous, I think on the field."

Does he feel the burden of being the lone strike bowler for Sri Lanka for over a decade? "Yeah. It is very difficult, because of so much of expectations. It is not an easy job. Expectations are very high."

What does he feel about Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar? "Both are world class players. Both have played really well. But you can't compare any one player. It depends on the day."

But he doesn't think the current players are in the class of Azhar and Sidhu in reading him.

"They were great players of spin bowling and they had experience in everything. But current players are still learning. When they become established like the two players mentioned above, they too will play well."

He is sad sponsors don't flock to Lankans as in India. "Ours is a small country. Hardly people get sponsorship that too is not as much as in India. So we are happy with what we get."

What's his take on Harbhajan Singh? "He is a good young bowler, but has a long way to go. In a few years time, he will be one of the best in the world."

What are the ideal qualities of a spinner? "You have to be very patient. You have to practice a lot. You must love the game."

The main weapon in his arsenal is the delivery which straightens up after pitching. How does he manage it so consistently? "I practiced very hard in the nets till I got it right and my consistent practice helps me get that right in the matches."

Some spinners flop in one-dayers. Not him. How? "For me, there is not much difference between both the games."

How does he reckon Lanka's chances in the next World Cup are? "Our chances are there. But frankly we have to work really very hard, because the conditions are not going to suit us."

What about India? "Because of the conditions, they might struggle. But one never knows. Whoever plays well on a given day will win the match. There could be a chance."

What does the ace spinner feel about marriage? "That's a problem. I am to still find someone. Until that I can't get married!"

If not cricket what? "A businessman."

Favourite ground? "Eden Gardens. Local ground is Kandy."

Regrets?" Haven't given batting importance. I like bowling more than batting."

Kapil's criticism of the Indian players? "Every player who plays in international cricket tries very hard. Maybe Kapil is saying Indians lack team spirit. But as individuals they try very hard."

Ben Hollioke's death? "It's very shocking because he was a good friend of mine. I had played with him. It is sad for international cricket."

How has Sri Lanka's managed to produced its crop of fast bowlers? "Our board has is going on the right path, putting a lot of effort to develop Sri Lankan cricket."

Actually they are being given the finishing touches at the our MRF pace camp in Chennai.

Contributions of Whatmore and Alex Contouri? "As a coach, Dave is doing a good job. Alex is also doing a good job because he is looking after physical fitness. "

"The best Sri Lankan batsman is Mahela Jayawardena. Unfortunately there are no good spinners at the moment in Sri Lanka. Mahela is good because he has good potential and he is still only 23 years old and he already has ten hundreds in Test cricket."

Why are left-arm spinners becoming rare? "Maybe they don't get enough opportunities to play."

Does he have nightmares about Sachin as Warne had? "I don't have any nightmares about anyone!"

Does his team play too much cricket? "I don't think so. When you have to play, you must play and do so without grumbling. Life is short."

Should the third umpire be consulted for lbw decisions? "I don't think so because that would further slow the game."

He turns out to be a soccer fan. Names three teams for the World Cup. "Argentina is favorite to win. France could be a close second and the Brazil might have an outside chance to win it."

Favourite soccer players? "Rivaldo from Brazil, Thierry Henry from France, Saviola from Argentina, Zidane from France and Beckham from England."

Has he seen Lagaan? "I haven't seen it. I have heard about it though and I would like to see it."

How does he relax? "I love watching sports on TV."

Changes he wants? "I haven't thought about it."

The greatest moment? "1996 World Cup triumph."

They lost six games in a row after that. One hates to ask him about that. But a lot of people worldwide think it was match fixing at work. Some day the story wil be told. Till then, we are happy to listen to the tune of Murali, arguably the greatest spinner of our times.


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