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Keep bowling Murali

MUTTIAH Muralitharan became the first ever cricketer in the world to capture one thousand (1000) Test and one day wickets last week. A world record. He achieved this rare fete during his hundredth test match, played between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka last week.

Murali, the lad who played cricket for St. Anthony's College Kandy, has come a long way.

He has been the rallying point of Sri Lankan cricket for many years. In fact he brought the nation together in 1995 with his former skipper Arjuna Ranatunga who stood by him when the 'mad' Darrel Hair no balled him several times in Australia.

Many Sri Lankans who were not interested in cricket became suddenly interested in the game thereafter.

They saw it as an insult to the whole nation. Sri Lankans and the sporting fraternity in the world saw a conspiracy brewing against Muralitharan in the cricketing world.

It was definitely hatched by the people who saw Muralitharan as a future threat. They were people who did not know how to play the gentleman's game. They wanted to deny Murali to the cricketing world.

It was also a shame that Australian Prime Minister John Howard chose to put his foot in the mouth and insult the cricketer. Murali who was very hurt and felt insulted later showed Howard that he was a better gentleman and a sportsman when he met Howard during a tsunami charity match in Australia.

Murali undoubtedly is a threat to his opponents but a pride for Sri Lanka and those who love the game of cricket. No wonder former Australian captain Steve Waugh describes Murali as the "David Copperfield of Cricket" in his latest book. Waugh says the ultimate test for any batsman in the world is to take on Murali.

Murali's cricketing life has not been like a dream wicket at Lords. He had been insulted, harassed and shouted at. Some of the world's so called sportswriters and commentators had been unleashed behind Murali by the so called Lords of cricket.

Due to various allegations Murali had to undergo many tests to prove to his opponents that his bowling action was correct and he captured their wickets and made hell for them at the crease by bowling right.

But, he will also remember that those little children who addressed him as 'Murali Aiya' looks up to him and love him and Sri Lanka stood by him all the time.

Muttiah Muralitharan is not only a cricketer. He is a remarkably generous guy. He began doing charity five years ago with the 'Foundation of Goodness' which later became Muralitharan, Vass, Gunasekara Foundation.

Since then this genius of a cricketer continues to campaign all over the world to harness support through his cricketing contacts to help a village down South and to build a rural community model in Seenigama.

He had already roped in cricketing greats such as Shane Warne, Steve Waugh, Ian Botham and Kapil Dev to help the Sri Lankan village which was also affected by the tsunami.

We say to our thousand wicket taker, Murali, who had come this far, such a long journey, not to be tormented by the Australians or any other opponents. Yes. They would try to throw you out of the game before you retire. Murali you must look at the positive side. You must become even stronger. You must take the battle to the Aussies and to the cricketing grounds of the world. You must go on.

Keep bowling Murali. The wicket is all yours.

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Produced by Lake House Copyright 2006 The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd.

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