Perth: Former policeman Ross Emerson, the last umpire to no-ball controversial Sri Lankan bowler Muthiah Muralitharan for an illegal action, claimed on Sunday the 30- year-old was paving the way for "a generation of chuckers".
Emerson, who no-balled the champion off spinner amid dramatic scenes in Adelaide, South Australia, three years ago, said it was "an absolute joke" Muralitharan was on track to become Test cricket's top wicket-taker of all time, as he neared West Indian Courtney Walsh's record of 519. Muralitharan's tally is 417 from 74 Tests after he captured five for 143 in a marathon 64-over stint against England in the second Test at Edgbaston, Birmingham, Saturday, when he snapped up five or more victims in an innings for the 34th time. "They are talking about him as the best spin bowler ever, but how many people has he got out through illegal actions?" Emerson asked in an interview with the 'Perth Sunday Times'. Emerson's broadside comes only days after Australian vice-captain Adam Gilchrist was reprimanded by the Australian Cricket Board (ACB) for saying Muralitharan's action was illegal. Emerson, now an adviser to the Western Australian Umpires' Association (WAUA), said he felt so strongly about the issue - one of the hottest topics in world cricket - that he had tried to contact Gilchrist to offer him support. "It's a joke - an absolute joke," Emerson said. "Gilchrist got it right. He said only what all the players think. Over in the sub-continent they're now producing a generation of chuckers and nobody cares - it's just getting worse. "Some of the Australians who came back from a tour a few years ago said all they had to do was walk down the street past any school, and you had a whole playground of kids chucking. "So who is going to stop it? Where does it stop?" The International Cricket Council (ICC) has cleared Muralitharan, who returned to the Sri Lankan side for the second Test against England after being sidelined with injury. ICC experts have agreed with Sri Lankan officials that an "anatomical disorder" gives the illusion that his arm does not straighten. Emerson sparked amazing scenes at Adelaide Oval in the 1998-99 season when he no-balled Muralitharan during a One- day game between Sri Lanka and England. Emerson's action led to a threat by Sri Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga to take his team from the field. It was some minutes before Ranatunga agreed to resume the match. Emerson paid a big price for his action - he was sacked by the ACB two days later and has not been reinstated to international duties. Many influential figures in Australian cricket believe he was punished for putting principle and a strongly held belief before political correctness.
England still in command, SL 132/2 in 2nd innings