Cricket crazy Sri Lanka will warm up to the upcoming ICC Champions Trophy with the news that the island’s most celebrated spin bowler Muttiah Muralitharan is to be inducted into ICC’s Hall of Fame.
Muralitharan, fondly known as Murali, will be inducted to ICC’s Hall of Fame along with former Australia captain Karen Rolton, Arthur Morris of Don Bradman’s ‘invincibles’ and George Lohmann.
The unassuming Muralitharan basked in glory during an illustrious career during which he went on to claim 800 Test and 534 ODI wickets. He was also a member of Champion Sri Lanka team which won the 1996 Wills Cricket World Cup. But Muralitharan can consider the induction as the best tribute paid to him for the years spent on pursuing a sport which brought him both flowers and brickbats.
He was often taunted by the Aussies who questioned his bowling action, but the off spinner held his nerve and weathered the storm, thanks largely due to the backing he received by his skipper Arjuna Ranatunga. He hit back strongly silencing his critics by continuing his career and went on to establish many records, his 800 Test scalps being the chief among all achievements on the field.
Sri Lanka Cricket CEO Ashley de Silva has termed the induction the highest honour a cricketer can receive adding, “His illustrious career demonstrates that he belongs to this highly prestigious group.”
According to SLC, Muralitharan was given the options of being inducted to ICC’s Hall of Fame either during the Bangladesh Tour of Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka’s Tour of India or the ICC Champions Trophy and the former spinner chose the latter. Muralitharan along with the other three former cricketers slated for the honour will also be presented with commemorative caps during the ceremony.
ICC Chief Executive David Richardson referring to Muralitharan has said that the bowler has been one of the greats of the modern era. “His guile and consistency over the years helped Sri Lanka develop as a very competitive side in both Tests and ODI cricket,” Richardson had said.
Sri Lanka was able to mark its name among the trophy winners when they were declared joint winners with India when rain washed out play during the final. Interestingly Muralitharan was a member of that Sri Lanka team.
Sri Lanka has always been a force in the limited over version of the game. But the present IPL season not attracting as many Sri Lankan players as in the past prompted Muralitharan to make a comment. The former spinner was quoted in both local and foreign media that the present Sri Lankan cricketers don’t fit into the IPL. He had told reporters that the owners of the present teams contesting the IPL didn’t look at the Sri Lankan cricketers as before. He went on to suggest that Sri Lankans should get more experience if they want to be hired by IPL franchise owners.
On the back of what Muralitharan has said, the islanders are preparing for the ICC Champions Trophy which England and Wales will host between June 1-18 at three venues. The Sri Lankans will contest the tournament initially in Pool B and will play their league matches against India, Pakistan and South Africa.
The other group comprises Australia, Bangladesh, New Zealand and host England. The Englishmen will also feature in the curtain raiser against Bangladesh whose impressive average pushed out West Indian from making the playing eight in the tournament.
India who defend the title play a blockbuster encounter against rivals Pakistan on June 4 in Birmingham.
The 8th edition of the Champions Trophy will have 15 matches that will be completed during an 18-day period. Matches will be played in London, Birmingham and Cardiff.