Sri Lankan legendary off spinner Muttiah Muralitharan has hit out at SLC after they objected his presence in the rival camp. Muralitharan is the consultant for the Australians on this tour.
Murali is not happy that he is being accused as a ‘traitor’ for helping Australians in their preparation for the three match Test series. After his former employers said Muralitharan was damaging his legacy, the 44-year-old accused Sri Lanka’s board of setting him up as a fall guy if the hosts lose a series to the visiting Australians.
“If Sri Lanka loses, they (the board) will say it is because of Murali,” he said in a recorded statement which was sent to AFP.
“They have no right to accuse me of being a traitor. Have they done one hundredth of what I have contributed to cricket in Sri Lanka?
“This is a political game to cover their shortcomings,” he added. “I am being used as a pawn to cover their failings.”
His outburst was sparked by a complaint by the board that he had bullied groundsmen into letting the Australians practise on the pitch which hosts the opening match in a three-Test series from Tuesday.
Cricket Australia confirmed that there was an issue regarding conditions and adjustments made to the pitch but the issue has been resolved by the two management teams.
In lodging the complaint, board president Thilanga Sumathipala accused Muralitharan of insulting Sri Lanka team manager Charith Senanayake.
“Muralitharan’s behaviour is unacceptable and we have brought this to the notice of the Australian team management,” Sumathipala told reporters.
“It should not have happened. We are very disappointed.”
Muralitharan retired with 800 Test wickets to his name and till date he holds the record.
SLC is not amused that Murali is helping the country which once raised objection over his action and then PM John Howard once labelled him a “chucker”
Sumathipala was not so pleased with the offies decision and pointed out the irony.
“Professionally it is okay for Murali to coach any foreign team, but the irony is that he is supporting Australia which tried to get him out of cricket,” Sumathipala said.
“He is creating long-term damage for himself among his fans. I feel sad.”
Sri Lankan skipper Angelo Mathews was more conciliatory, acknowledging his former teammate’s expertise.
“The Australians obviously saw value in his knowledge of Sri Lankan conditions,” Mathews told reporters.
During an 18-year Test career, Muralitharan — who was born with a partially deformed elbow — was twice cited by Australian umpires for a suspect action but was cleared both times by the game’s governing body.
Muralitharan had run ins with Australian umpires in the past and was also booed and jeered by the crowd. Since retirement he has been part of Melbourne Renegades Big Bash side and won over the fans.
In his video statement, Muralitharan said he had not received any approach from the Sri Lankan board to help the island’s next generation of spinners and accused it of favouring foreign coaches over locals.
“They don’t give an opportunity to talented Sri Lankan coaches and prefer to bring white people from abroad,” he said.
“That affects our economy too because we have to pay them dollars that leave the country. That is treachery.”
Sri Lanka has a history of employing foreign coaches and re-hired South Africa’s Graham Ford earlier this year for a second stint.
Sri Lanka cricket is going through the transition phase since the retirement of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardane and were defeated in England and New Zealand.
The series against Australia will be a litmus test for the islanders and they will have to be at their best to beat No.1 ranked Aussie side which also has a point to prove in subcontinent conditions.