By D.C. Ranatunga
Muttiah Muralitharan paid his last international match in his hometown, Kandy the other day. It was really his first and last match in the newly built Pallekelle Stadium. Murali, the much loved cricketer is being adored and recognised throughout the world as the greatest bowler of all time. His popularity is also because of his simple nature.
The hard time that Murali faced in Australia a few years back is now a forgotten chapter. He is gaining due recognition in the cricketing world there. In the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) museum, Murali leads the list of three Sri Lankan cricketers who are featured along with a write-up on cricket in Sri Lanka. The other two are Arjuna Ranatunga and Sanath Jayasuriya. Alongside the note is a Sri Lanka cricket blazer that Sri Lankan cricketers wear.
Murali is the only Sri Lankan cricketer featured in a huge montage of world cricketers as one enters the Don Bradman museum in Bowral in New South Wales. Next to him is Pakistan’s Imran Khan. He is also the only Sri Lankan cricketer featured among the ‘Greats of the Game’ in The International Cricket Hall of Fame (ICHOF). Opened last November it is being publicised as “the world’s first and only international cricket hall of fame.”
Murali is one of 20 Greats recognised by the Hall of Fame starting with W.G. Grace (England) and ending with Sachin Tendulkar. Just ahead of Murali is Australian wicket-keeper batsman Adam Gilchrist.
In addition to showing Murali in action on the wall featuring the 20 ‘Greats of the Game’, he is also featured among well known players during the period 1978-2010. Alongside a colour photograph showing Murali in his characteristic bowling action, he is described thus: “In 2010 Muralitharan became the first cricketer to take 800 Test wickets when he had Indian batsman Pragyan Ojha splendidly caught at slip by Mahela Jayewardene in the first test at Galle on 22 July 2010.” He is also featured among the greats during that period – Imran Khan, Vivian Richards, Richard Hadlee and Sachin Tendulkar.
Murali is certainly a pride for Sri Lanka. A superb ambassador.