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Lanka Prime Minister to sue ICC
- Murali says ‘no’ to tour Down Under; Atapattu insists ‘nothing is finalised’

Colombo: Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahindra Rajapakse is all set to sue the International Cricket Council (ICC) over its decision to outlaw Muttiah Muralidharan’s controversial doosra delivery.

Rajapakse said in a statement on Sunday that he would defend the off-spinner. The Sri Lankan board, however, has asked the bowler to cut out the away-going delivery from his armoury.

“The Prime Minister has decided to take legal steps against the ICC for banning (Muralidharan’s) doosra,” a statement from his office said. “The Prime Minister is already in consultation with a team of lawyers.”

Rajapakse said that Muralidharan, who is now the most successful bowler in Test history with 523 wickets, was a national asset and he would do everything within his power and that of the government to defend the bowler.

Muralidharan, whose unorthodox action has seen him being no-balled for ‘throwing’ in the past, came under fresh scrutiny because of the controversial delivery and was told last week that if he persists with it he could face a year-long ban.

The off-spinner was sent to Australia to work on his action with a bio-mechanical expert after he was reported by Match Referee Chris Broad last month.

After the first stage of the review process, ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed said the report forwarded to him by Sri Lanka Cricket but compiled by the University of Western Australia, meant the doosra could no longer be tolerated.

“The report forwarded by Sri Lanka Cricket proves that the degree of straightening is well outside the ICC’s specified levels of tolerance,” said Speed. “In the light of this finding, Sri Lanka Cricket has now advised the ICC that it has instructed Mr Muralidharan not to bowl this delivery in international cricket. The ICC supports this action,” he added.

Meanwhile, Sri Lankan officials have backed Muralidharan to boycott the tour Down Under after the Australian Prime Minister called him a ‘chucker’.

In a hurried interview Sunday with reporters in Bulawayo, Murali said: “I won’t be going because of the Australian Prime Minister,” but the Sri Lankan team management stopped him from commenting further.

Lanka captain Maravan Atapattu said: “I don’t think he has made a decision as such. Murali is a guy who will not miss even a practice game because he loves playing so much. We’ll try and talk him out of it but I don’t think he’s made a firm decision as yet. Nothing is finalised.”

Sports minister Jeevan Kumaratunga, a relative of President Chandrika Kumaratunga, defended the off-spinner saying foreign leaders were making “desperate statements.”

The Sunday Times newspaper here quoted Kumaratunga as saying that John Howard’s remarks were “absurd” and asked Muralidharan to go ahead with his decision.

Sri Lanka Cricket president Mohan de Silva said Muralidharan could opt out of next month’s two-Test tour of Australia after Howard further strained the already uneasy sporting ties between the two countries.

“If Murali makes a request not to go to Australia we will definitely give him that option,” De Silva said. “We will not force him to go to a country where he is not accepted.”

De Silva, who is in Zimbabwe with the Sri Lankan team, however, said there was no formal request so far from the spinner.

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