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Monday, 8 March 2021

On this day: Born April 17, 1972: Muttiah Muralitharan, Sri Lankan cricketer

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On this day: Born April 17, 1972: Muttiah Muralitharan, Sri Lankan cricketer
On this day: Born April 17, 1972: Muttiah Muralitharan, Sri Lankan cricketer

File footage of Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan who was born on this day in 1972.

VIDEO SHOWS: FILE FOOTAGE OF FORMER SRI LANKAN SPIN BOWLER AND CURRENT ALL-TIME LEADING WICKET-TAKER IN TESTS AND ODI'S MUTTIAH MURALITHARAN BOWLING IN THE NETS / STILL PHOTOS OF MURALITHARAN / SOUNDBITE FROM MURALITHARAN AFTER RETIRING FROM TEST MATCH CRICKET / MURALITHARAN AT CRICKET CLINIC IN SINGAPORE SHOWS: KINGSTON, JAMAICA (FILE - APRIL 23, 2007) (ORIGINAL 4:3) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) 1.

MUTTIAH MURALITHARAN BOWLING IN THE NETS AHEAD OF A 2007 CRICKET WORLD CUP SEMI-FINAL AGAINST NEW ZEALAND COLOMBO, SRI LANKA (FILE - MARCH 28, 2011) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) 2.

MURALITHARAN BOWLING IN THE NETS AHEAD OF A 2011 CRICKET WORLD CUP SEMI-FINAL, AGAIN AGAINST NEW ZEALAND NORTH SOUND, ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA (FILE - APRIL 3, 2007) (ORIGINAL 4:3) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) 3.

MURALITHARAN BOWLING IN THE NETS AHEAD OF A 2007 CRICKET WORLD CUP SUPER 8 STAGE MATCH AGAINST ENGLAND 4.

MURALITHARAN HITTING STUMPS WHILE BOWLING SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA (FILE - JANUARY 13, 2003) (REUTERS PICTURES - ACCESS ALL) (MUTE) 5.

STILL PHOTOGRAPH SHOWING MUTTIAH MURALITHARAN BOWLING AGAINST ENGLAND DURING AN ODI AS UMPIRE DARRELL HAIR, WHO NO-BALLED THE SPNNER SEVEN TIMES FOR THROWING INSTEAD OF BOWLING DURING A BOXING DAY TEST AGAINST AUSTRALIA IN 1995, WATCHES ON ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA (FILE - JANUARY 22, 1999) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) (MUTE) 6.

STILL PHOTOGRAPH SHOWING SRI LANKAN CAPTAIN ARJUNA RANATUNGA (2ND LEFT) POINTING ANGRILY AT AUSTRALIAN UMPIRE ROSS EMERSON AFTER EMERSON NO-BALLED MURALITHARAN (1ST LEFT) FOR THROWING DURING AN ODI AGAINST ENGLAND.

RANATUNGA TOOK HIS TEAM OFF THE FIELD IN PROTEST BEFORE THE MATTER WAS RESOLVED BY THE MATCH REFEREE PETER VAN DER MERWE HARARE, ZIMBABWE (FILE - MAY 8, 2004) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) (MUTE) 7.

STILL PHOTOGRAPH SHOWING MURALITHARAN CELEBRATING AFTER DISMISSING ZIMBABWE'S MLULEKI NKALA ON DAY THREE OF THE FIRST TEST FOR HIS 520TH TEST WICKET, A THEN-NEW RECORD FOR MOST WICKETS IN TESTS, SURPASSING COURTNEY WALSH KANDY, SRI LANKA (FILE - DECEMBER 3, 2007) (ORIGINAL 4:3) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) 8.

MURALITHARAN RECEIVING A COMMEMORATION STAMP AFTER THE THIRD DAY OF THE FIRST TEST AGAINST ENGLAND AFTER THE SPINNER TOOK HIS 709TH AND 710TH TEST WICKET TO OVERTAKE SHANE WARNE FOR THE MOST TEST WICKETS IN HISTORY GALLE, SRI LANKA (FILE - JULY 22, 2010) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) 9.

SIGN, READING (English): "WE SALUTE MURALI ON A GLORIOUS CRICKETING CAREER" ON DAY FIVE OF THE FIRST TEST AGAINST INDIA IN MURALITHARAN'S FINAL TEST MATCH BEFORE RETIRING AND WITH THE SPINNER NEEDING TWO WICKETS TO BECOME THE FIRST PLAYER IN HISTORY TO REACH 800 TEST WICKETS 10.

VARIOUS OF GIANT POSTERS OF MURALITHARAN ALONG THE STREETS GALLE, SRI LANKA (FILE - JULY 22, 2010) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) (MUTE) 11.

STILL PHOTOGRAPH SHOWING MURALITHARAN CELEBRATING AFTER DRAMATICALLY TAKING A RECORD-EXTENDING 800TH TEST WICKET, REMOVING INDIA'S LAST BASTMAN PRAGYAN OJHA IN THE SECOND INNINGS GALLE, SRI LANKA (FILE - JULY 22, 2010) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) 12.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) ALL-TIME LEADING WICKET-TAKER IN TESTS, MUTTIAH MURALITHARAN, AFTER TAKING HIS 800TH AND FINAL WICKET, SAYING: "I was so happy because whatever has happened, God gave everything because not only one victory, eight wickets and everything he gave.

So, I think this is one of the greatest moments in my cricketing life because retiring like this, farewell." ST GEORGE'S, GRENADA (FILE - APRIL 15, 2007) (ORIGINAL 4:3) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) 13.

MURALITHARAN BOWLING IN THE NETS AHEAD OF THE 2007 CRICKET WORLD CUP FINAL AGAINST AUSTRALIA NORTH SOUND, ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA (FILE - APRIL 3, 2007) (ORIGINAL 4:3) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) 14.

MURALITHARAN BOWLING IN THE NETS COLOMBO, SRI LANKA (FILE - MARCH 28, 2011) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) 15.

VARIOUS OF MURALITHARAN BOWLING IN THE NETS COLOMBO, SRI LANKA (FILE - MARCH 4, 2011) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) 16.

MURALITHARAN BOWLING DURING A PRACTICE SESSION AHEAD OF A 2011 CRICKET WORLD CUP GROUP A MATCH AGAINST AUSTRALIA SINGAPORE (FILE - OCTOBER 13, 2012) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) 17.

VARIOUS OF MURALITHARAN SPEAKING TO TEENAGERS DURING A CRICKET CLINIC 18.

MURALITHARAN BOWLING STORY: Batting great Sachin Tendulkar famously said "if people throw stones at you, turn them into milestones" -- a motto almost perfectly encapsulated by the cricket career of Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan.

Few modern-day athletes have endured more scrutiny than Muralitharan, whose bowling action was subjected to frequent and intrusive analysis, and even fewer emerged stronger from controversy.

The legality of the off-spinner's bowling split opinion and as controversy raged, the International Cricket Council (ICC) conducted extensive tests.

The sight of a shirtless Muralitharan, sensors on his bare torso and a dozen cameras capturing his every move, bowling before biomechanical experts at the University of Western Australia, remains a powerful image of an athlete's bid to salvage his reputation.

On another occasion, he bowled before TV cameras with his bowling arm in a steel brace to prove his bent arm was congenital and not conspiratorial.

That he still finished his career with 800 test wickets and 534 scalps in one-day internationals -- benchmarks in both formats -- proves his biggest asset was his iron will.

The test tally is the bowler's equivalent of Don Bradman's fabled average of 99.94 -- a feat unlikely to be eclipsed.

As a bowler, the off-spinner from Kandy was a freak of nature.

In cricket, it is usually the pace bowlers who strike fear into their opponents.

Yet Muralitharan, with his bulging eyes, was a rare spinner who terrorised batsmen.

Former Sri Lanka captain Duleep Mendis once remarked that 'Murali' could turn the ball even on concrete and it was no exaggeration.

Blessed with a rubbery wrist and strong shoulders, Muralitharan simply took the surface out of the equation and was unrelenting and often unplayable.

Whispers, however, grew about his bowling action.

Australian umpire Darrell Hair no-balled him seven times in the 1995 Melbourne test.

Ten days later Muralitharan was no-balled repeatedly by Ross Emerson in a one-dayer.

In January, 1999, Emerson called him again in Adelaide.

Every time he readied for a fresh spell, the merciless Australian crowds shouted "no-ball".

Yet those no-ball calls in 1995 perhaps proved a watershed moment in Sri Lankan cricket, as the team and Muralitharan went on to win the World Cup the following year.

Extensive tests arranged by the governing ICC concluded that his action created an "optical illusion" and eventually a 15-degree flexion rule was agreed for bowlers.

The Wisden cricket almanac in 2002 ranked him as the leading bowler in history, ahead of Australian spin rival Shane Warne.

While he polarised opinion, the ever-smiling spinner, often the lone Tamil in the team, was a powerful symbol of unity in a strife-torn nation.

(Production: Stefan Haskins, Tim Hart)

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