Ban Muralitharan, says former Australian Test umpire

Published: Tuesday, January 21, 2003, 22:50 [IST]
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Brisbane (Australia): Former Australian Test umpire Lou Rowan has called for controversial Sri Lankan off spinner Muthiah Muralitharan to be banned, it was reported on Tuesday. Rowan believes fear of being branded racist has stopped international cricket authorities from taking action against the star Sri Lankan player, the 'Chronicle' newspaper in the Queensland town of Toowoomba said. Rowan, a veteran of 26 Tests in Australia in the 1960s and 1970s, told the paper players were reluctant to comment about Muralitharan's bowling action for fears of being branded racist by the Sri Lankans. Muralitharan has claimed 437 Test wickets and passed the 300-mark for Limited Overs wickets in the current triangular series with Australia and England. "The name Muralitharan should be expunged from cricket records," Rowan was reported to have said. Australia is the only country where Muralitharan has been called for throwing. Darrell Hair was the first to no ball Muralitharan in 1995-96 and later that same season he was called by Tony McQuillan and Ross Emerson in a One-dayer against the West Indies in Brisbane. His second visit to Australia in 1998-99 also turned ugly when Emerson called him at Adelaide Oval. Earlier this summer the Australian Cricket Board had to pacify Sri Lankan officials after press reports quoted the now retired Emerson as saying Muralitharan's action was worse than when he called him for throwing. Muralitharan was taunted by the 'Gabba' ground crowd in Brisbane last week during a day-night match against Australia. Rowan told the paper there was ill-feeling between the Sri Lankans and the Australian and England teams over Muralitharan. "It is not based on racism. There is a deep-seeded, but not publicly expressed, resentment over the bowling action of the Sri Lankan, Muralitharan," he said. "No player will comment because they will be accused of racism and the various boards and the International Cricket Council (ICC) will do nothing for the simple reason of the certainty of racist allegations." Rowan said four former Test umpires he spoke to recently agreed Muralitharan's action "does not conform with the law". "The actions of cricket authorities in permitting and encouraging this man to continue in cricket is incomprehensible and a travesty of justice," he said. Rowan has also been critical of the bowling action of Australian speedster Brett Lee, who was also cleared by international authorities to be allowed to continue in the game.

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