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Sunday, 11 July 2010

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Murali calls it a day at the right time

That off spinning sensation Muttiah Muralitharan has decided to end his Test cricket playing career at the right time. He played the game for 19 long years and now while his mind must be willing, the body must be saying NO.

He would have thought long and hard before arriving at this unpleasant decision. It is said that all good things must come to an end. And so it is with this great hearted bowler.

In recent times, he was not the bowler that he was. Obviously the wear and tare has taken its toll and this would have prompted him to call it quits from the longer version of the game-Test cricket what the game is all about and give his all in the one-day game

It would have been a memorable moment had he delayed his decision and played in the Test series against India and then said finis on his home turf the P. Sara Stadium - home of his club the Tamil Union C and AC. But he knows better. He will bid goodbye after the First Test against India at the Galle International Cricket Stadium.

Sigh of relief

His retirement would have sounded like sweet music to all batsmen who would have fronted up to him. The Indian batsmen who would have run into him in the upcoming Test series would have been the first to heave a sigh of relief.

Muralitharan has 792 Test scalps and 515 one-day victims. He is sure to strain every nerve and sinew and use his cunning to get the eight more wickets he needs in Galle to make the 800 exclusive wicket club all his own.

Muralitharan, from the time he sported the Sri Lanka cap, did not have a roller coaster ride nor was it a bed of roses. He had many land mines buried on his way in becoming the highest wicket taker in Tests and the 'cowboy game'. But what was great was that he hurdled over all those obstacles and became what he is today.

From the time he handled the 'red cherry', he was a batsman's nightmare. With an action that was always open to question and discussion, he obtained tremendous spin on any surface and teased and lured many a batsman to his demise.

Action questioned

With his career gathering momentum and wickets coming easy to him, critics began to question his funny action. Umpires began to 'call' him for chucking. It would have been unsettling to him.

But undaunted and being the gutty cricketer that he was, he faced his critics with even greater determination and began to make it his business to silence his critics and on the way developed the devastating 'doosra' that had batsmen clueless not knowing which way the ball would turn.

It was not long when the International Cricket Council, unable to face the criticism by critics who were calling for his testing, asked Muralitharan to fly to Australia and have his action tested.

He was put through the mill, with many a test being done. Ultimately it was proved that his action was legal. It was a credit to his determination to prove that he was bowling the way his god willed him to bowl and was not throwing the ball to capture his wickets.

Dark days

People who stood by him in those dark days when his career was at the crossroads and helped him to come clean and continue in the game need to be mentioned. They are former Minister of Sport S.B. Dissanayake, Presidents of Sri Lanka Cricket Ana Punchihewa, Thilanga Sumathipala and former Captain Arjuna Ranatunga.

Although Muralitharan would not sport his flannels in the longer version of the game, he will be there continuing to show his prowess in the shorter version of the game and will wish goodbye to all forms of the game after the 2011 World Cup in the sub continent.

Round table 'Sports Act'

I was fortunate to watch the inaugural round table 'Sports Act' discussion on Thursday, July 1 from 9.30 to 10.30 p.m telecast on Prime TV, where two outstanding sports personalities of yesteryear appeared.

Leading Marketing and Public Relations Consultant Premasara Epasinghe with his dulcet tones, interviewed Major General Shavendra Silva, versatile sportsman, who captained St. Thomas' College, Matale a national hero of our time and one of the greatest sons of the soil.

Epasinghe who opened batting for Nalanda in the mid fifties and Silva opener for his school in the 1980s gave a flying start to the new concept of 'Round Table', now known as 'Sports Act'. Both Epasinghe and Silva kept wickets for their colleges.

The military genius and youngest Major General in the Sri Lanka Army, Silva was a key player in the 'Defence Team' that freed the country from the clutches of the dreaded terrorism, gave a strong message to all parents, schoolchildren and the authorities and the general public, about the value of sports and the co-curricular activities in moulding character and personality to be a productive citizen of the country with high moral values.

'Words of wisdom'

It is hoped that the authorities will take a cue from the 'words of Wisdom' uttered by Major General Silva.

'It is with sadness that I read a news item recently, where a child had committed suicide as she was not successful in the GCE O/Level Examination. Why? Because the child was not taught to take victory or defeat in the same spirit.

'Sports helps one to build character to face challenges in day-to-day life. It will always help one to be a citizen who loves Sri Lanka. I owe my success in the battlefield to the training lessons that I learned in the field of cricket.

'Like the captain of a cricket team, even on the battle ground, I used the tactics I adopted in the cricket field. I took the terrorists by surprise. I caught them unawares' stated Major General Silva.

Important question

When Epasinghe posed a very relevant important question on the 'team effort' and the role played by the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces - President Mahinda Rajapaksa, and the dynamic Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the Major General stated.

'When we were playing cricket for our schools, there were Masters-in-Charge of cricket and a coach. They guided us with dedication and commitment. They kept our morale up, provided the necessities. Likewise President Rajapaksa and Defence Secretary Gotabaya were our guiding lights', said Major General Silva.

Well done Prime TV. We wish good luck to your new concept - sports act - Roundtable. Keep it up!

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