Cricket

Murali hits back over pitch 'lies'

2016-07-26 13:20
Muttiah Muralitharan (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Former Sri Lanka spinner and current Australia backroom staff member, Muttiah Muralitharan, has fired back after he was accused of influencing the preparation of the pitch at the P Sara Oval, in Australia's warm-up match.

Sri Lanka Cricket have also claimed that the legendary spinner conducted a centre-wicket training at the Pallekele ground without first seeking permission.

SLC have made a formal complaint to Cricket Australia, but the spinner has already responded via the media hitting out at Charith Senanayake, whom he believes is the source of the accusations.

Muralitharan told gathered press: "Charith has accused (me) and told the media that I have cut the grass on the pitch to help Australia's spin bowlers to take the wickets in the three-day game. That's a lie,

"When I met him I asked him: 'We played together and respected each other, why are you telling lies?', he told me that they have just made an inquiry.

"The Tamil Union wicket was made at the time by Janaka Sampath, who is the SLC board curator. They should clarify from him what actually happened, rather than going on rumour."

SLC president, Thilanga Sumathipala, clarified that the complaint made with CA relates to the altercation between Muralitharan and Senanayake, and the alleged centre-wicket training session.

Sumathipala issued a statement to the media: "There are two problems here,

"We're very disappointed because Murali is a player the board spent a lot of effort saving. We saved him three times. From a professional standpoint, there is no problem with him working with the Australian team. But the issue here is an ethical one. We've named the trophy the Murali-Warne Trophy.

"And I remember once when we went to Kandy with Murali, he was on a truck and there was so much support for him that it took four hours for him to get home. Kandy is his hometown, and he's now had to coach an opposition team at Pallekele. Regardless of professionalism, we're very hurt by this."

Muralitharan took a great deal of offense to statements made by Sri Lanka's minister of sport, who questioned his ethics, and highlighted his own humanitarian work in the country and hit back at the board who have not offered the spinner a position with the national team or academy.

The former tweaker hit back: "About two years ago, the board headed by Nishantha Ranatunga asked me to do some work with the spinners and I said yes, and I went and worked with the Sri Lankan spinners for 10 or 15 days,

"Since then no Sri Lankan board has asked me to do any job. If they had asked me before the [Australia] series to be a consultant, I would have said yes.

"They didn't want me, and someone else wanted me. How could I be a traitor to this country? Australia asked me to coach for the entire series, but I told them I can only do 10 days because I don't want to be in the opposition dressing room during the match in Sri Lanka, that's not ethical.

"Sri Lankan people have done a lot for me, and I think I have done a lot for them as well. Along with a friend I've opened the Foundation of Goodness, where every year we help 50,000 families. We built 1000 houses after the tsunami.

"Cricket-wise, through the foundation, we made about 30-40 wickets in the Northern and Eastern provinces. We hold an annual reconciliation tournament. We do more than what Sri Lanka Cricket does, with our own funds."

The man who took 800 Test wickets for Sri Lanka highlighted that he is not the only Sri Lankan to seek coaching opportunities abroad: "These people who are accusing me should go and look in the mirror [and compare] what they are doing to the country and what I am doing.

"The other fundamental wrong is that when our players become brilliant coaches, the board chases them off. I'm talking about Chandika Hathurusingha, Chaminda Vaas, Marvan Atapattu, Mario Villavarayan, and Thilan Samaraweera, who went to Australia.

"These people are all working in different countries where they are valued more than they are here.

"What we do is bring all the top coaches from abroad when we already have the talent. We are not using it. Am I the traitor or are they the traitors? When they pay also - the foreign coaches are paid so much more than the Sri Lankan coaches."

Perhaps aware that the SLC are looking for a scapegoat as Sri Lankan cricket is in crisis, the spinner joked: "Does SLC think that just because I coach Australia for 10 days, Australia will win? If that's the case I am the best coach in the world, and Sri Lanka should hire me every time, and we will win every time."

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