This undue harassment of cricket players has to come to a screeching halt. Otherwise, we may see this tactic being repeated by those who are scared of facing certain bowlers or bowling to certain batsmen.
India's recent tour of Pakistan is a case in point. Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf was keenly aware of the "second thoughts" the Indian cricketers would have had if their security concerns were not addressed. What did he do? He made sure that his Indian guests were accorded the same level of security that he got. General Musharraf did not use this as a platform to weed out the Indian team so that his countrymen could have a cakewalk of a win in the series by playing against a India 'A' team. Way to go Mr President! You were a gracious host!
India won both the Test and the One-day series and Mr Musharraf even had his Indian guests over for what was more than just a token meal. His guests were treated like royalty. He was even agreeable to India sending their own security checking team to make sure it met their needs!
Now compare this with what the Aussies "dished out" to the Sri Lankans, definitely not what one could call a tasty meal. The whole platform for souring the series was given its rollicking start by the Aussie PM himself! To add to that, umpires vented their feelings out at interviews that they would not be hesitant to call Murali for chucking. The umpires should not air such prejudices openly which is tantamount to a juror going public before the trial has begun to say that the person being tried is guilty!
Understandably, this is way too much pressure on a single player. Could such prejudice even go to the point where the maligned player is not ensured proper security unlike his teammates? Who says that cannot happen? If a Head of State can start the ball of bias rolling, there is no telling what can happen!
Murali has his supporters and detractors too. But, never have we seen it come to this point before. Many felt that in his heydays, Sunil Gavaskar was a painfully slow batter, but did anyone use that to harass him from touring a country. No! Chandrasekhar was unplayable many times, did politicians of the opposing teams nations use that to harass him from touring. No! So, why such an approach is being used now? Is it because they know that the august body has fewer teeth than it once had? What can we expect next from the Aussies?
While Steve Waugh has said that Murali did not need the "doosra" to be a good bowler and Adam Gilchrist wished Murali to continue on, the one who really should be consoling Murali, the Aussie PM, is surprisingly mute on the matter. With his remarks, he has succeeded in bullying Muttiah Muralitharan, to 'Mute'tiah Muralitharan! Who will be his (Mr PM's) next victim? Don't be surprised if it is Harbhajan "Turbanator" Singh! While the "Turbanator" title came as a form of respect from the Aussie press that is no guarantee that those in power agree with those plaudits.
So, will Mr PM come forward and apologize to Murali? Players visiting from abroad are like ambassadors from their respective nations and they should be accorded proper respect. Brett Lee was cleared of chucking allegations not too long ago. Have we seen him being dragged into that same mire again? No. So, what makes Murali a scapegoat? We certainly hope not the colour of his skin! He is not a child of a lesser god; let's get that fact straight! Or do some need to be re-educated.
In the interim, here's wishing Murali a well deserved rest. Maybe by then his "doosra" will be cleared, but as Steve Waugh said, "Murali does not need the 'doosra' to be an effective bowler."
On a different note, congratulations to England for there 3 - 0 win over the Kiwis and their new found third ranking in the ICC Test table! They have a first class cricket format that is the goal of almost every cricketer to play in. I personally hope that the English will not use their new 'visa' laws unfairly to their advantage against the touring teams by singling out players they know would be a force to reckon with. That just would not be cricket!