Nairobi: Sri Lanka's star spinner Muttiah Muralitharan goes into Monday's World Cup clash against Kenya facing a stern Australian examination of his bowling action.
Muralitharan, a bane of Aussie umpires in the past, will be supervised by Australian official Daryl Harper who is a member of the elite eight-man panel of umpires. Unlike compatriots Darrel Hair and Ross Emerson, Harper has not called Muralitharan for throwing, but the Sri Lankans remain wary of umpires from down under. Muralitharan, rated the best bowler ever by cricket's bible Wisden, was at the centre of a storm over his controversial action on each of three visits to Australia. He was no-balled for throwing by Hair during the second Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in December 1995, and again by umpires Tony McQuillan and Emerson during a One-day clash against the West Indies in Brisbane in January, 1996. When Sri Lanka returned to Australia in 1998-99, West Australian Emerson called Muralitharan during a One-day International in Adelaide which almost saw skipper Arjuna Ranatunga stage a walk-out. Australian fans jeered Muralitharan when he came on to bowl during the latest trip earlier this year, prompting the bowler to say he will never play in Australia again. The International Cricket Council (ICC) has cleared Muralitharan of his action, saying the deformity in the bowler's wrist gave the impression that he was throwing the ball at the point of delivery. An official protest from the Sri Lankans led to Hair being removed from officiating in any of Sri Lanka's World Cup games in England in 1999. They have, however, not objected to Harper who is regarded as one of the best umpires in the game. But not everyone is convinced Muralitharan's action is fair. Former Indian captain Bishan Bedi, renowned for a classical left-arm spin action in his playing days, said last week that Muralitharan should be throwing the javelin rather than bowling. "In my book, he is not a bowler. He should have been throwing javelin at the Asian Games or Olympics as he is a good athlete," Bedi said, calling for Muralitharan's records to be expunged. Copyright AFP 2001
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