Brisbane: Sri Lankan offspinner Muttiah Muralidharan bowled with an illegal action and didn’t deserve to be credited as the best bowler in Test cricket, former international umpire Ross Emerson said.
Emerson, who hasn’t stood in an international match since he no-balled Muralidharan for “chucking” during a one-dayer in Adelaide three seasons ago, told Brisbane’s Sunday Mail that most umpires were too afraid of a backlash to question the Sri Lankan’s action.
Wisden had, on Friday rated Muralidharan as the No. 1 Test bowler and Australia’s Sir Donald Bradman the greatest batsmen ever.
Emerson said the decision to elevate Muralidharan, who has 437 wickets in 78 Tests, above West Indian paceman Courtney Walsh (519 wickets in 132 Tests) and Australian legspinner Shane Warne (491 wickets in 107 Tests) as a “disgrace” and a “joke”.
“I still consider his action illegal, as do most umpires around the world, but they won’t do anything about it because they’re worried about their jobs,” Emerson was quoted saying in a back page article headlined: “You’re still a chucker.”
“Muralidharan’s action has changed since 1995 — it’s got worse — but he’s not worried about it because who’s going to call a bloke who has more than 400 wickets'” Emerson said.
Emerson said the ICC’s decision was purely commercial because Asia generates vast sponsorship for cricket and authorities didn’t want to put the region offside.
The Sri Lankan team management reacted to Emerson and Egar by saying that a long-running Australian campaign to discredit Muralidharan was not justified.