Congrats Murali and may there be many more

Written by: Sunil Vasudeva
Published: Tuesday, May 11, 2004, 12:51 [IST]
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Hearty congratulations to Muttiah Muralitharan for his record-breaking feat! 520 Test wickets and counting! In an era dominated mainly by the speedsters, the patient Murali has spun his way to the top.

There are many who will doubt the legitimacy of the record and he might even have an asterisk next to his name in the record books. Only in his case, the 520* would not mean 520 not out but wickets obtained under dubious means. His supporters and critics are equally large in number.

However, if I correctly recall, even Brett Lee is unable to fully extend his elbow due to a deformity in the joint, and Shoaib Akhtar has a hyperextension anomaly. So, what makes Murali a scapegoat? Is it because he is from Sri Lanka and many feel that they should still be the minnows of Test cricket albeit being in that arena since the 1980s?

If that is the case then their world record 953 for six against India should also be registered with an asterisk because Murali was on the team then too! Where will the whining end? Courtney Walsh unequivocally congratulated Murali on his achievement. What a sport! Way to go Walsh!

Many other records loom over the horizon of being conquered. The possibility of Anil Kumble overtaking Kapil Dev as India's leading wicket taker, Sachin eclipsing Gavaskar's world record of 34 hundreds, Veeru Sehwag scoring a second triple century, the possibilities seem many.

So, who is better Lara or Sachin? Ian Chappell's vote of confidence goes to Lara because as Ian says, "Brian has aged gracefully in cricket unlike Sachin". On the other hand we have Ricky Ponting who says that for him Sachin will always be ahead of Lara. I guess that debate too will break the record for the longest contended subject! That one will have an asterisk too because supporters for both come from all around and each have their good arguments.

With New Zealand touring England we may finally see parity in the ICC Test rankings. Australia is #1 no doubt! No asterisks! South Africa is # 2 no questions asked. As for number three, if New Zealand beats England by a margin one Test or two Tests, they will get that well deserved spot. That will put England in fifth place behind India. That will be fair, since the Kiwis beat India in New Zealand and drew the away series. On the other hand, England drew with India at home and lost to them in India. No asterisks there whatsoever!

About Sachin aging gracefully, I remember when he burst onto the Test cricket scene, everyone was going gaga over him. At that juncture, Kapil Dev, who by then was the elder statesman of the team, warned the public to leave him alone and let him grow naturally. Is his sagacious advice coming back to haunt the Indian public? Time will tell. Likewise with Pathan and Balaji. The Indian public is going gaga over them too. Will their growth as pacers be stifled by the extraordinary attention being heaped? Once again, time will tell.

To add to that we have the ladies swooning over the Indian players as regards their good looks. Never before have I ever seen so many articles regarding the Indian players' good looks! These do have their proper merit. Even the Indian players of the yesteryears had good appearances. Who can forget Sunny Gavaskar's impish smile? When he was his normal elfin self, people loved him! Then there was Salim Durrani and Farokh Engineer. However, back then everyone was on the field to play cricket and commercialisation was not as prevalent as it is today.

On a final note, it was so nice to hear that on his time off from cricket, Irfan Pathan wants to go back to the MRF pace foundation and build up his skills. What an attitude! In the hiatus, I hope Ashish will learn how to keep his body from breaking down so frequently, ditto for Zaheer Khan.

Hopefully, Harbhajan will recover to his old devastating self again. Then we will have quite a Border-Gavaskar series on our hands! Enjoy the time off Indians and we hope you return to Test cricket with a bang as opposed to fizzling out!

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