Deshabandu Muttiah Muralitharan, also spelled as Muralidaran and affectionately referred to as Murali, was born on April 17, 1972. He is a multifaceted figure in the world of cricket, serving as a Sri Lankan cricket coach, former professional cricketer, successful businessman, and a distinguished member of the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame. His cricketing journey is marked by remarkable achievements, making him one of the most iconic figures in the sport’s history.
Muralitharan’s prowess as a bowler is nothing short of legendary. With an astonishing average of over six wickets per Test match, he stands tall as one of the most successful and revered bowlers in the annals of cricket. His extraordinary career boasts numerous records and milestones, firmly establishing his legacy in the game.
One of his most significant achievements is being the only bowler to claim a staggering 800 Test wickets, a feat that has yet to be matched. In addition to his Test prowess, Muralitharan also made a significant impact in One Day Internationals (ODIs), amassing more than 530 wickets. As of July 2023, he holds the distinction of having taken more wickets in international cricket than any other bowler. Such statistics are a testament to his unparalleled skill and consistency.
Muralitharan’s contributions extend beyond individual accomplishments. He played a pivotal role in the Sri Lankan cricket team’s historic victory in the 1996 Cricket World Cup, an achievement etched in the annals of Sri Lankan cricketing lore.
However, Muralitharan’s illustrious international career was not without its share of controversies. His unorthodox bowling action, characterized by an unusual hyperextension of his congenitally bent arm during delivery, raised questions and scrutiny from umpires and segments of the cricketing community. His action was subject to rigorous biomechanical analysis under simulated playing conditions. Fortunately, these investigations cleared Muralitharan’s action of any wrongdoing, first in 1996 and subsequently in 1999, reaffirming his legitimacy as a world-class bowler.
Muralitharan’s dominance in Test cricket was underscored by his remarkable 1,711 days atop the International Cricket Council’s player rankings for Test bowlers. This spanned an impressive 214 Test matches, further solidifying his status as a cricketing colossus. On December 3, 2007, he reached the zenith of Test cricket when he overtook the previous record-holder, Shane Warne, as the highest wicket-taker in this format. Muralitharan had previously held this record when he surpassed Courtney Walsh’s 519 wickets in 2004, but a shoulder injury temporarily halted his ascent, allowing Warne to claim the mantle. Nevertheless, he eventually reclaimed the coveted title and etched his name in cricketing history.
In the realm of ODIs, Muralitharan’s prowess was equally impressive. On February 5, 2009, in Colombo, he achieved another milestone by surpassing Wasim Akram’s ODI record of 502 wickets when he dismissed Gautam Gambhir. These accomplishments exemplify his incredible versatility and skill across formats.
As his cricketing journey reached its twilight, Muralitharan bid farewell to Test cricket in 2010. His final appearance in this format was nothing short of memorable, as he notched his 800th and final wicket on July 22, 2010, with his last ball in his last Test match. It was a fitting culmination to a career marked by excellence and a relentless pursuit of perfection.
Muralitharan’s impact extended well beyond his playing days. In 2002, Wisden’s Cricketers’ Almanack bestowed upon him the title of the greatest Test match bowler, a testament to his unparalleled skills and contributions to the sport. In 2017, he achieved another milestone as the first Sri Lankan cricketer to be inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame, joining an elite pantheon of cricketing legends. Moreover, he received the prestigious Ada Derana Sri Lankan of the Year award in 2017, underscoring his enduring influence and popularity in his homeland.
In conclusion, Deshabandu Muttiah Muralitharan, known affectionately as Murali, is a cricketing icon whose impact on the sport is immeasurable. His incredible achievements, unwavering determination, and indomitable spirit have left an indelible mark on cricketing history. As the only bowler to claim 800 Test wickets and with a legacy that transcends borders, Muralitharan stands as a shining beacon in the pantheon of cricketing legends.