London: Sri Lankan off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan does not deserve to retire from Test cricket as the most distinguished wicket-taker of all time, feels former Australian umpire Ross Emerson, who had no-balled him seven times during a Gabba ODI.
"I haven't changed my views in 15 years - he doesn't deserve the record," said Emerson, who was barred from international cricket after no-balling Muralitharan in a one-day game against England in Adelaide in January 1999.
Emerson, who made his ODI umpiring debut in a Sri Lanka-West Indies match in Brisbane in 1996, had no-balled Muralitharan seven times and continued to do so even when he switched to bowling legbreaks.
"You couldn't compare his record to Shane Warne's - no one ever doubted the legality of Warne's action. Murali was a great competitor and a great bowler but a lot of the time he just didn't bowl within the limits of the law," Emerson was quoted as saying by 'The Daily Telegraph'.
Muralitharan, the world's leading wicket-taker in both formats of the game (792 Tests and 515 ODI wickets), has decided to retire from Test cricket following the first Test against India in Galle, beginning July 18.
Muralitharan's action first came under the scanner when another Australian umpire Darrell Hair called him for throwing during Sri Lanka's tour Down Under in 1995-96.
Hair still stands by his decision.
"I have no angst over him holding the record but the fact that the rules had to be changed to handle bowlers like that vindicated my actions and the actions of other umpires who called him," Hair said.
"Once they changed the rules and made it legal for bowlers to bend their arm to 15 per cent they gave an advantage to a couple of bowlers [Muralitharan included] who could get something extra from that rule.
"I would rather see the rule as it was where you couldn't bend your arm at all. That would mean everyone was the same," Hair said.
38-year-old Muralitharan, who made his debut in 1992 against Australia, had the world cricket debating about his unorthodox and weird bowling action.
Three years after his debut, Muralitharan was called for throwing during the 1995-96 Australia tour by Hair and ICC soon recommended a biomechanical analysis, which concluded that his action created the 'optical illusion of throwing'.
But still he was charged with suspected action again in the 1998-99 Australia tour by Emerson and was sent for further tests in Perth and England before being cleared once again.
He faced the same charges in 2004 but the Sri Lankan kept on taking wickets and overtook West Indies' Courtney Walsh's 519-wicket mark to become the highest wicket-taker in Test history.