Posted in Cricket, Sports, Life by udoit on July 30, 2010

One of the meanings of Apocalypse is a prophetic revelation, especially concerning a cataclysm in which the forces of good permanently triumph over the forces of evil. During the year 1995 Boxing Day Cricket Test in Melbourne, Australia, neither Darrell Hair – the umpire who called a “no ball” for an illegal action nor Muttiah Muralitharan (a.k.a. Murali) – the player who bowled, knew that they initiated an Apocalypse in terms of Cricket bowling actions and its rules. In this post, we are going to see how Murali turned that incident into a prophetic revelation to the Cricketing world, especially his response to the injustices and harassments, International Cricket Council (ICC) researches’ revelations, and the lessons we can learn from his Cricketing life.

During the period between his international debut on August 1992 and that famous Boxing Day, Murali became the leading wicket taker for Sri Lanka. Yet, his bowling action was declared illegal; Murali did not criticize anybody. Definitely he would have outraged, frustrated but he worked with the system. He had support of his Captain and the management so he listened to them and underwent biomechanical analysis. Even after ICC cleared his bowling action on 1996, some Cricketers (both retired and active players) publicly criticized him and ultimately in the year 1999 in a one-day match against Australia his bowling was called “no ball” again at Adelaide Oval, Australia. In response, his captain Arjuna Ranatungae walked out with his team but the game resumed following the Sri Lankan cricket board’s order. As usual Murali did not curse or shown his anger publicly. Instead, he co-operated with ICC and Sri Lankan Cricket board, and went through a series of tests conducted by ergonomics and biomechanics experts. To my knowledge, he showed his anger publicly twice; first, in the year 2004 when he instructed his staff and lawyers to sue Bedi who is a retired Cricketer and his long time critic. However, after Arjuna (his former captain) advised him not to do that he left Bedi. Second incident was in the year 2006 at Perth, Australia when he raised his middle finger towards a spectator in the crowd who had painted his face black and had the words “no ball” painted across his chest. Because he was touched by the Australians’ generous donations to Sri Lankan Tsunami victims, Murali agreed to that Australian tour as a good will gesture, despite his announcement on the year 2004 that he would not tour Australia any more due to “then Australian Prime Minister” John Howard’s baseless remarks. After (knowing) all these, the Australian crowd harassed him and made him to lose his temper, but Murali kept his cool except that one incident. Apart from those two incidents, Murali’s response to this issue was always “It is difficult to make sure that everybody understands. Despite all the science, some people do not understand. So, it is better that I didn’t care and focus on the things I could control.” As he mentioned, his performance from the first incident improved day by day for instance during the three year period 1992-1995, he took 80 wickets but after that during the following three year periods such as 96-98, 99-01, 02-04, and 05-07 he took 120, 180, 120, and 190 wickets respectively. It is a great testimony to his words; he lived by his words.

Until the year 2004, according to the ICC rules the legal limit on bending arms were 10 and 5 degrees for fast and slow bowlers respectively. However, because of the many controversies especially the Murali’s case, the ICC conducted a research to analyze the bowling actions of various (both retired and active) players. The ICC‘s research panel comprised of former Cricket players from different countries worked with ergonomics and biomechanics experts to study various players bowling actions. Surprisingly, they found all the bowlers (both retired and active) violated the existing bowling actions rules one-way or other especially some popular (both retired and active) bowlers bended their arms more than Murali. In addition, the study revealed that it is impossible to bowl according to the existing rules. As a result, ICC amended the rule, removed the power from the umpires’ to call “no ball” and changed the process for finding legality of a bowler’s action. The sport Cricket was played at least for two hundred years before that famous Boxing Day and the ICC‘s bowling actions rules were more than one hundred years at that time but nobody realized that the bowling actions rules were not right. Albeit, a few players like Murali are affected by those rules. In Murali’s case, he cannot straighten his arm like others because of his bone structure, so even if he keeps his arm straight, it will give an optical illusion that he is keeping his arm bended. Therefore, people thought his bowling action is illegal consequently he had to go through many struggles especially due to people who did not (want to) understand. When ICC research revealed the truth, the Truth prevailed over the illusions.

When you decided to fight the injustices and harassments against you, you have two options. First, you have to work with the system by listening to elders and experts, scientifically analyze the problem, and challenge it using the existing legal system. Second, you fight against the system publicly with anger at the same time try to drive people’s support towards you, so that a mass movement will solve your problems. Murali know that the second option is not for him because driving a mass movement for a sporting issue is much harder than working with the system. He could have easily used his ethnic background to create a social stir but it would not be the right way. In addition, since he chosen to work with the system, he did not have any break in his career. As a result, he retired from Test Cricket this month (July 2010) with the world record for highest wickets — a tally of 800 wickets. Since, the current active bowler who has the next highest number of wickets is at below 375 wickets, he will definitely hold that record for another 10 years. Anger management is a necessary skill, because many people suffer their entire life due to a stupid, catastrophic mistake committed during the heat of that moment. Some people lose their loved ones, career, or valuables due to anger. Many people lose peace, harmony and quality in their life because of anger. When you get angry or disappointment, take a deep breath and slow down to analyze the situation and find either a solution or a middle ground to settle. It will give profound peace, harmony and satisfaction.

In summary, Murali with his unique bowling action not only delivered balls that bamboozled the batsmen besides he delivered a revelation regarding long time misconceptions. He is Muttiah Muralitharan not the Messiah Muralitharan however his Cricketing life delivered a prophetic message to the people. That is why, on his farewell when he said, “I have nothing more to achieve” everybody agreed with him. His long time critic Bedi said, “I still do not accept his bowling action but he is a wonderful human being.” What else, a person needs to achieve in his or her life?