Cricket heavyweights Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara have come out in defense of former team-mate Muttiah Muralitharan, saying the spin-king need not defend his decision to coach the Australian team.
In a series of tweets posted today, Sangakkara, considered one of the greatest ODI batsman ever, said:
‘Murali is a great son of Sri Lanka and he doesn’t have to defend himself. He loves his country. He is free to consult or coach anyone.’
‘If SLC had ever asked him to coach Sri Lanka he always will. His consultancy with anyone is a way he can give back to the game. He has given –’
‘His best to his country on the field and off. He is always available for his country all they have to do is ask. We should be proud of him.’
‘If any Sri Lankan spinner walks up to Murali and asks him about bowling he will be the first to spend as much time as needed to help. Free.’
‘If there are any major issues I am sure that @OfficialSLC (Sri Lanka Cricket) can sit with Murali and iron them out.’
Added former Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene:
‘Was very disappointed to hear about SLC comments on Murali. I was in the same boat few months ago.’
‘I can only say that people know the circumstance and situations. Murali don’t have to defend himself.’
‘I don’t agree on this. Murali can’t make wickets. See his reply. Have a inquiry. Please don’t accuse innocent.’
‘It’s fair to get both sides of the story heard. Then SLC should not have made any statement.’
Sri Lanka Cricket President Thilanga Sumathipala sparked a furore yesterday, when he said the Board was ‘disappointed’ with Murali’s decision.
“We’re very disappointed because Murali is a player the Board spent a lot of effort saving,” he said to the media.
“We saved him three times. From a professional standpoint, there is no problem with him working with the Australian team. But the issue here is an ethical one.”
Kandy is his hometown, and he’s now had to coach an opposition team at Pallekele. Regardless of professionalism, we’re very hurt by this.
Responding to Sumathipala’s comment, Muralitharan, the world’s top test and ODI wicket-taker said that had Sri Lanka Cricket asked him to be a consultant to the team, he would have.
“They didn’t want me, and someone else wanted me. How does that make me a traitor to the country,” he asked.
“About two years ago, the Board headed by Nishantha Ranatunga asked me to do some work with the spinners and I said yes, and I went and worked with the Sri Lankan spinners for 10 or 15 days, Murali said.
“Since then no Sri Lankan Board has asked me to do any job. If they has asked me before the series to be a consultant, I would have said yes.”
“Australia asked me to coach their team for the entire series, but I told them I can only do 10 days because I don’t want to be in the opposition dressing room during the match in Sri Lanka,” he elucidated further.
Muralitharan added that Sri Lankans pursued coaching opportunies abroad, because they are treated unfairly by Sri Lanka Cricket.
“These people who accuse me should go and look in the mirror,” he said. “…When our players become brilliant coaches the Board chases them off. I’m talking about Chandika Hathurusingha, Chaminda Vaas. Marvan Attapattu, Mario Villavarayan and Thilan Samaraweera, who went to Australia.”
“These people are all working in different countries where they are valued more than they are here. What we do is bring all the top coaches from abroad when we already have the talent.”
“Am I the traitor, or are they the traitors,” he asked.
Sri Lanka Cricket meanwhile have made a formal complaint on the matter, to Cricket Australia. A spokesperson for CA said today: ‘We can confirm we received an email from Sri Lanka Cricket, and after discussions with the two management teams we consider the matter to be resolved.