| Muralidharan with wife Madhimalar on their wedding day
Colombo: At 33, Muttiah Muralidharan has achieved much more than most dream of ' 549 wickets in Tests, well over 350 in ODIs... Yet, the master off-spinner remains hungry, something which came through during a chat with The Telegraph at the Taj Samudra late on Monday.
The following are excerpts:
On whatís left to achieve
(Laughs) So, you think Iíve achieved everything' Doing well in the next (2007) World Cup is a target... I feel Iím good enough for three-four years and also feel I can win more matches for Sri Lanka.
On whether heís looking to sign off with X number of Test wickets
Not really, but if I continue for three-four years, getting to 700 is a strong possibility... Of course, I canít say I will get there.
On whether the controversies surrounding his action hurt him in a big way
Even if I want to reply, I canít as our board (Sri Lanka Cricket) has barred me from making any comments on my action... Iím letting this pass.
On the newly-introduced 15 degreesí allowance
Changes have to be made... Be it life or sport, nothing is constant.
On being more than a sporting icon for Sri Lanka
Iím happy if Iím seen as an ambassador for my country... Cricket has given everything... Fame, money... I mean, youíre interviewing me because of what Iíve achieved in cricket... If Iím able to give something back, in whatever way, Iím happy. In any case, we have an obligation to society.
On joining hands with Shane Warne for tsunami relief
Shaneís gesture has been touching... Iíve myself contributed towards the rebuilding of around 100 houses near Galle... Shane and, if Iíve got it right, the provincial Victorian government are pitching in with 100-200 houses in another part of Sri Lanka...
On the rivalry between him and Warne
We arenít at each otherís throat! Itís the Media which has fuelled this so-called rivalry. I respect Shane for being a great bowler, one of the greatest ever. Equally, Shane respects me.
On whether heís sorry that Warne gets caught in controversies
Heís entitled to lead his life the way he deems fit... It wonít be proper for me to talk about his private life.
On what cricket has taught him
To repay the affection of well-wishers... To overcome odds... To behave responsibly... Thereís this saying that one learns everyday ' thatís true of everybody.
On the batsmen who have played him with the least discomfort
Depends... Those who got runs on a particular day are the ones who had it easy... Over the years, Iíve bowled to some of the biggest and brightest ' Brian Lara, Sachin Tendulkar, Inzamam-ul Haq... All have the capability to take on any bowler.
On his famed mental toughness
A bowler should begin his job thinking the batsman could get him away 50 per cent of the time... The next step is to Ďeatí into that 50 per cent... Even if Iím hit, Iím confident about getting that batsman.
On whether he has admired any one cricketer for being tough in the mind
Many... Many... None more so than Steve Waugh, though...
On the experimental changes in one-day cricket
Look, the one-day game had become monotonous... Changes were needed and, perhaps, theyíre going to be well received once all teams implement them.
On whether Twenty20 has the potential to take off in the sub-continent
Canít say... Mind you, itís a hit in England.
On whether, today, heís especially thankful to any one person
Youíve asked a tough question... Iím grateful to so many, beginning with my coach Sunil Fernando... Heís the one who encouraged me to play cricket... All our national coaches have helped... Arjuna Ranatunga, too... Iím also thankful to my family for being supportive and instilling the right values...
On the difference marriage (to Chennaiís Madhimalar) has made
(Laughs again) The biggest difference is that Iím not single! Now, off the field, there are more responsibilities.
On career options once he is through with cricket
Havenít thought of anything.
On being a big fan of Brazilian soccer
Iím attracted to the attacking style, not individual Brazilians.
On his hero outside cricket
Another tough one... I suppose the ones Iíve admired most have been my parents (Chinnaswamy Muthiah and Laxmi). In cricket, as you know, I grew up idolising Viv Richards.
On the forthcoming ODIs and Tests in India
Iím excited... We havenít had a series there since 1997-98.
Finally, on tips to emerging off-spinners
That cricket is a hard game calling for the highest degree of dedication... If you arenít willing to work hard and make sacrifices, look at options.