Murali finds an ally in Waugh

Published: Wednesday, April 7, 2004, 22:03 [IST]
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Sydney:Sri Lankan wonder spinner Muttiah Muralitharan has found an influential ally as he battles chucking allegations.

Test cricket's most successful skipper Steve Waugh suggests the laws casting doubt on Murali should be changed.

Waugh, who retired last January after his record 168th Test, has applauded the ICC-ordered tests conducted in Perth on Murali, who is locked with Shane Warne in a race to become Test cricket's greatest wicket-taker of all time.

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) is awaiting a copy of the official report from the University of Western Australia biomechanist Bruce Elliott, who supervised last week's tests.

"It will prove once and for all whether he is legal or illegal," Waugh told a business luncheon in Sydney on Wednesday.

"I hope for the game's sake that they find he's OK because he's great to watch.

"He is a unique type of bowler. He makes Sri Lanka competitive in world cricket, he gets people through the gate, he gets people talking about cricket.

"They are the sort of players you want in the game."

But if the off-spinner's "doosra" delivery, or wrong'un, was found to be illegal, then the 500-wicket star would have to eliminate it from his repertoire "because it's unfair and he's got a big advantage over the batsman if that's the case".

Waugh said the relevant cricket law was difficult to impose.

"It says you can bend your arm 10 degrees from the elbow ...but how do you judge that?" he asked.

"If they (cricket authorities) like someone they'll be on their side; if they don't they'll be against them.

"Someone came up with a stat saying if they imposed that rule right now 50 per cent of all bowlers would be called for chucking.

"So they need to change that rule or to eliminate it, or do something with it so that everyone's relaxed and just get on with playing the game."

Waugh admitted Murali's delivery style made him particularly difficult to face.

"It's like an optical illusion because he has such an unusual action," he said. "His wrist goes in a different position to most bowlers, so when you face him you're almost playing a shot before the ball gets there.

"It takes about 10 or 15 minutes before you feel comfortable.

"The first 10 minutes is all about bluffing, getting your way through however you can and then getting used to the spin of the ball as it comes out of his hand."

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