Category Archives: murali

Ajanta Mendis Knows Good Spin

Sorry I haven’t posted in a while — every year, I sell my soul to Wimbledon’s second week, and this year, it was worth the price. It came at an opportune moment too, since the cricket world had nothing significant on its calendar to offer  (what exactly is the “Kitply Cup” anyway? What is a Kitply?).

Of course, that meant I missed Ajanta Mendis’s first great claim to fame. I talked about the Sri Lankan wonderkid before, when he hinted at his potential during the tour of the West Indies. But he hadn’t yet matched the enormous hype that preceded his arrival on the international stage. There are players like this — Kevin Pietersen, or Shane Bond, or Dale Steyn, for instance — who somehow establish their reputation before debut. Some manage to live up to it (like the three I mentioned) and some don’t (like James Anderson and Gautham Gambhir, who both sputtered for years before finally striking gold).

But have a look at this man. Continue reading

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The Passion of Muralitharan

The Economist, a British magazine laced with reason, currently has a correspondent reporting from Sri Lanka. Most of the daily updates make for depressing reading — war, death, resigned fates — but the journalist added a little variety with a mention of Muttiah Muralitharan, the bowler extraordinaire, and his local reception.

Have a look at it. In the cricket world, Muralitharan remains a polarizing figure, with the two sides often sadly defined more often than not by skin color and race: Westerners must mention his bowling action (even if only to clear it), while Asians tend to leap to his defense early and often. In Sri Lanka, however, Muralitharan abides chiefly as a unifying figure, bridging the divides between the Singhalese and Tamil sides.

I also didn’t know that he is an “Indian Tamil,” which apparently exists as a distinction in Sri Lanka.

Chucking the Murali Debate

No, no, I don’t want to begin another interminably fractious argument about whether Muralidaran throws the ball or not. For my Australian readers — all of one “Uncle J Rod” — I imagine that debate was long ago settled by Messrs. Emerson and Hair, but I’m sure there’s plenty of evidence to go all round on YouTube for both sides. (Actually, come to think of it, there are three sides to this debate: 1) He’s legal, buzz off; 2) He’s illegal, so sod off; 3) He was illegal, but now he’s legal; even if he were illegal, he couldn’t help it because of his arm, so…shuffle off quietly?)

What I do want to address, however, are the commentators on the various channels, whose pronouncements on Murali’s innocence — while well-intentioned — paradoxically only undercut his innocence. Continue reading

What’s Your Handicap?

I don’t know why Sri Lanka even bothered to show up at Hobart. It’s not just they are playing against Australians, but God as well: Jayawardene loses a crucial toss; none of Malinga’s brilliant early balls gets the edge (though they will when Sri Lanka faces Brett Lee, of course); Maharoof fractures his back — and Hussey might just be Jesus reincarnated (and we all know what a great cricketer he was).

If Ricky Ponting were serious about constantly wanting Australia to improve, he would offer opposition captains concessions. Declare a little bit early, Ricky, why bother with 551 runs on the board, when you may just get away with 400? And (to level the field, in light of Maharoof’s back) retire one of your bowlers hurt, preferably the one who keeps getting wickets in his first over?

Actually, this is only slightly a joke: Continue reading

Should We Go For a Walk (And Talk)?

Sorry for the redundant blog titles, but I lead a sad, lonely life. It — my life, that is — does brighten up, however, whenever a deep cricketing ethical dilemma arises, like the one that Murali Kartik provoked when he didn’t walk after nicking a ball off Brett Lee. [See start of video.]

Apart from the aptly named Snicko-meter, we know that Kartik nicked the ball because he admitted as much in the post-match presentation ceremony. Rameez Raja, who seems to have a horse’s mane on his head, asked the question, and with only the briefest of hesitancies (that would have been the conscience saying, “Tell the truth, Murali”) , Karthik replied in the affirmative.

Immediately, the camera shifted to a few Australian bowlers — Brett Lee included, I believe — looking at each other as a fervent atheist might upon finding conclusive evidence that God does not exist. Ponting addressed the issue in his own interview, saying, “Murali’s just admitted he nicked that one but it would’ve been nice if he’d walked.”

There are several layers to this problem, and not just the usual debate over whether batsmen should walk if they know they are out (though that too must be discussed). More than that, we have to ask: should Karthik even have answered Raja’s question, and when doing so, should he have felt bad about his response? Did he?
Continue reading