All quiet on the Murali end

Written by: Sunil Vasudeva
Published: Tuesday, June 22, 2004, 11:06 [IST]
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Now that Muralitharan's absence from the Aussie tour is official, hopefully all the painful verbal jabbing he has had to deal with will subside or just plain stop. If the Sri Lankans do win it for Murali as Atapattu wishes, that would be poetic justice. However, the opposite result seems more likely. But then, cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties.

In a desperate bid to make Murali reconsider his decision, he faced a few more verbal punches from current and former players. First of all the comment Ricky Ponting made that he felt Murali has a grudge against Australia. That's trying the guilt trip treatment which as we have seen did not work. On the contrary, when former players, umpires, and to top it all - the Prime Minister makes disparaging remarks, one sees that the grudge is from the Aussie end, not the Murali end. Nice try though Ricky.

Then Shane Warne called him "thin skinned". We are all familiar with the vulgarity of the Aussie players on the field. He needs to realise that his counterparts, in this case, the Sri Lankans don't imbibe of that cesspool of verbal exchange. What the Aussie player views as light banter is more like verbal harpooning by standards of decorum.

An Asian player bowls a bouncer to his Aussie counterpart and it strikes him on his body. The Asian player goes up to the Aussie to apologize only to be greeted by a "%&$# off" from the Aussie. Remember, that is normal talk for the Aussie but downright vulgar by common standards of decorum. Murali has decided to let that zooter from Warne go without reprisal. All quiet on the Murali end.

Dennis Lillee called it a cowardly act. Need we remind him of how many times he toured India while he was active in Test cricket? He has not played a single Test in India. Was he scared of being carted all over the place by the Indians on batsmen friendly pitches? Or was he resting for an upcoming Ashes tour? If the latter is correct then Murali has as much a right to rest as Dennis did.

However, if the reason was the former, then is he any more courageous than he gives Murali credit for? Imran Khan, Kapil Dev, and Ian Botham then are leagues ahead of Lillee in that they never feared to try their wares on Indian pitches and the number of wickets these three men scalped in India is a testimony of their raw courage. Last and by no means least Murali never feared to tour India. Murali lets his record in India speak for itself over Lillee. All quiet on the Murali end.

Murali has every reason to be concerned about his personal safety. When people in high posts mouth acrid remarks, primarily it shows that the post is high not the person belonging to it. Secondly, it harbours an unwelcome spirit and shows insensitivity to others feelings. If the PM feels that way about him, how about the common man?

Now that the Aussie PM has got the ball of animosity rolling with Murali, one wonders who his next targets are. One wonders if he has a "Top Ten List" hidden somewhere in his office? The Aussie PM's defence is that he based his remarks solely on the findings at Perth. But, he could always have artfully dodged making a comment on the question regarding Murali's action by simply saying, "That's for the ICC to decide. No comment."

Hopefully we will not hear similar things when the Aussies tour India later this year. Hopefully by that time "All indeed will be quiet from the Aussie end". If the Aussies do say something, we hope it will be as sagacious as what Ricky Ponting said regarding replacing Aakash Chopra as opener in Tests with Yuvraj Singh. That was a good point from Ponting that certainly merits consideration. Comments like that are not out of place. Hopefully "the ruler" can learn from "the ruled" in this instance.

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