Cricket Sri Lanka cries sabotage, but Muttiah Muralitharan lives in a Global Village

Sudipta / 28 July 2016

In this sophisticated world, people say we live in a “Global Village” where everything seems close, thanks to the internet. In 1968, Candian  communication researcher Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase “Global Village”. In this era, SLC (Sri Lanka Cricket) cried foul, as country’s hero, who is regarded as an icon for his contribution to the team and to the society, joined Australian team as a spin consultant for the series against his country.

Off spin legend, Muttiah Muralitharan’s decision to help the visiting Australian cricket team in Sri Lanka drew criticism from the Sri Lankan cricket board. The President of the Board  Thilanga Sumathipala called Murali a traitor. Cricket Australia sought help from Murali for Australian spinners during the series in Sri Lanka, Murali after two requests agreed to accept the offer.

But Sri Lankan Cricket is unhappy with Murali’s decision. The legend, who has taken 800 Test wickets and he troubled Australians the most, has no regret.  During Murali’s cricket career,  Australia twice termed Murali a chucker, but the legend was freed on each occasion to bowl by the ICC. Murali has a defect in his hand that proved as bless for his cricketing career.

Australia always cried foul but they couldn’t resist Murali from being all time great. But is the national identity really matters in cricket?  It doesn’t. In a cosmopolitan cricket culture, every retired great can join any team of the world or an individual cricketer.

Nowadays all the cricket team hires a foreign coach. Their coaching skills or expertise have become assets for another country so they  get hired by them. So what is the problem?

As a cricketer, Murali had a controversial career. During his cricket career once Australian Prime Minister John Howard called him a “chucker”. But Murali came up with a vocal reply, “he shouldn’t be saying things like that, he doesn’t know the facts. It’s out of line. He should be thinking of his country.”

During his career, Murali had to face the wrath of  umpire Darrell Hair  when the umpire called Murali the chucker for the first time in his career at Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) in 1995. In  1996 at Brisbane against West Indies Ross Emerson  called Murali’s all leg breaks no balls.

But it was clear that Australia and Australians have a problem with Murali as they never enjoyed his spin. Australia was the most tormented team against Murali.

But is this mean Murali should avoid taking up a job with Australian team?  After 20 years Cricket Australia called Murali for a help. So it is clear even Cricket Australia doesn’t have any doubt about Murali’s greatness. The Cricket Sri Lanka and Cricket Australia also named the trophy after two great spinners to great countries- off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan and leg-spinner Shane Warner.  So Cricket Australia’s offer only proves that they respect Murali and value his expertise.

However, SLC’s objection doesn’t have any worth as they have hired Graham Ford as their national coach when their  indigenous coach Chandika Hathurusingha and Marvan Atapattu  have been doing a great job with   Bangladesh team.  Murali questioned- is SLC not a traitor? In a youtube video, Murali said, “The other fundamental wrong is that when our players become brilliant coaches [he is thinking of the likes of Chandika Hathurusingha, currently the coach of Bangladesh, and Marvan Atapattu] the board chases them off. They are valued far more outside of Sri Lanka. What we do is bring all the top coaches from abroad when we already have talent here. Am I the traitor or are they the traitors? Also, the foreign coaches are paid so much more than the Sri Lankan coaches.”

Former Sri Lankan cricketer Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene , who had a stint with England team in 2015 UAE tour to play against Pakistan,  supported Murali.

Foreign coach 

Nowadays the most of the countries hire an overseas coach – England hired Australian  tactician Trevor Baileys ahead of Peter Moors, Pakistan after a sojourn with indigenous coaches hired Mickey Arthur  and fielding coach Steve Rixon, and in recent time India hired  Duncan Fletcher before they hired spin great Anil Kumble as their head coach.  West Indies over the years has been suffering money scarcity so they don’t afford a foreign coach.

At the same when a national team stitched with eleven players, they come from their state, not directly from the country as a country is a feeling rather than a boundary. They play for their states in Ranji Trophy in India. Indian players, who groom themselves playing for their  states , always dream to play for their national team India as it is a matter of pride.  In Indian cricket, there was a time when most of the Indian players used to come from Mumbai and the world knows that Indian cricket strength lies in the cricket infrastructure of Mumbai.  So players and administrator used to take pride when Mumbai cricketers score a hundred or take five wickets. So Mumbai had become more important than the abstract facet of Indian National team.

Subcontinent the spin hub

The subcontinent is a hub of spin.  England once hired Mushtaq Ahmed  to improve the skills of spinners and now during the  series against Pakistan, ECB hired Saqlain Mushtaq  to help Moeen and Adil Rashid.  So SLC’s objection of sabotage doesn’t have any worth when the trend is common in international cricket.

Experience and tricks are individual assets so if any cricketer, or a cricket board, seeks help from a former cricketer of any country then it is that player’s choice whether he should grab the job or not, the national cricket board shouldn’t cry foul as it is not its business to interfere in personal matter of a former cricketer. A job with an opposition team gives a former cricketer a chance to earn money for his family and the most important thing – the respect.