Muttiah Muralitharan

Muttiah Muralitharan, the game's greatest wicket-taker, is one of the most controversial figures in the history of the game.

b. 17 April 1972 – Sri Lanka
Played cricket for Sri Lanka

The game's greatest wicket taker

Perhaps not since England's Bodyline captain Douglas Jardine has one cricketer divided public opinion as sharply as the wide-eyed, smiling Muralitharan. Alternately lauded and lambasted he averaged nearly six wickets per Test and his record of 800 Test wickets may never be bettered. A deformed elbow, supple wrists and a rapid shoulder rotation enabled him to turn his off breaks prodigiously on all surfaces.

He was called for throwing in 1995 and 1998 and in 2004 was told not to bowl the radical doosra because his action for the delivery exceeded the acceptable if contentious 15-degree limit. An affable man of courage he vigorously defended himself against his many detract5rs and revealed remarkable stamina over 18 years as his country's principal strike bowler. A Tamil, he was widely admired for his calm and dignity at a time of ethnic conflict.

'It was an advantage to bowl spin. I worked out a very successful method and that started strengthening my wrist. When I first took five wickets I gave up medium pace as I thought being a spinner as the best way to stay in the team.' Muttiah Muralitharan
'It is an unusual action but I'm not convinced you should be throwing a guy out of the game because he can do things that other people can't.' Ian Chappell

The Stats

  • Tests
  • 123
  • Batting Stats
  • Aggregate: 1,261
  • Highest Score: 67
  • Centuries: 0
  • Average: 11.68
  • Bowling Stats
  • Wickets: 800
  • Best bowling: 16/220
  • Runs: 18,110
  • Average: 22.72
  • ODI
  • 336*
  • Batting Stats
  • Aggregate:  663
  • Highest Score: 33*
  • Centuries: 0
  • Average: 6.777
  • Bowling Stats
  • Wickets: 515
  • Best bowling: 7/30
  • Runs: 11,885
  • Average: 23.08
  • T20
  • 11
  • Batting Stats
  • Aggregate:  1
  • Highest Score: 1
  • Centuries: 0
  • Average: 0.5
  • Bowling Stats
  • Wickets: 13
  • Best bowling: 3/29
  • Runs: 266
  • Average: 20.46

Murali is the most important cricketer in the game today, because his record-breaking bowling career and its attendant controversies have changed the laws of cricket which have served the game well for more than a century.

Did you know?

Muttiah Muralitharan bowled more than 5,000 balls at the Colombo, Galle, and Kandy grounds. This gives him the highest three places in terms of balls bowled at a particular venue. His bowling average for his 493 wickets on home soil was only 19.57.

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