Muralitharan: A unique champion

Never has a sportsman confused the mind like some dark Hollywood flick. Well, we did have the enigmas like Mike Tyson, John McEnroe, Diego Maradona and Eric Cantona who showed us the dark side of the world of sports. Yes, these sportsmen were blessed with sublime talent.

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Published: Sat 24 Jul 2010, 10:19 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 1:45 PM

Yes, the world was bewitched by their athletic grace. But their desire to flirt with controversy often left their oodles of admirers with broken hearts.

No, Muttiah Muralitharan is not in the league of Tyson, McEnroe, Maradona and Cantona. And the reason is simple. The unassuming Sri Lankan is unique. His freakish ability to spin a cricket ball viciously on any surface made the world of sports science search for new answers. He was humiliated in public as if he had committed an unpardonable sin. Yet, they could not find a way to end his right to exist as he continued to mesmerise us with his ability to frighten the batsmen not only on the dust bowls but also on pitches, which helped seamers and not spinners.

Despite his epic battles, Muralitharan, a Sri Lankan Tamil, did manage to remain a simple man who never missed a chance to show his generosity. After the island nation was ravaged by tsunami in December 2004, Murali, who had divided the world of cricket for decades, brought all under the same roof as he helped rebuild the homes of those who lost their near and dear ones in one of the worst natural disasters ever. The charm of which will appeal to the world in years to come.

Murali’s own cricketing life would have been hit by a tsunami if he had not shown the will to fight like a gladiator. And when he finally managed to ditch the type of failure, which once immortalised Don Bradman in the hearts of the romantics, even his detractors began to show the willingness to embrace him. After the Sri Lankan became the first man in the annals of Test cricket to take 800 wickets, Bishan Singh Bedi, the legendary Indian left-arm spinner who once called Murali a javelin thrower, said: “I may not agree with Murali’s action or may have called all Murali wickets as run-outs, but I have highest respect for him as a human being. He is a kindhearted man.”

Muttiah Muralitharan will never be seen in Test cricket again. But even the biggest detractors would be rueing the absence of the wizard.

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