Few modern-day sports persons have faced the kind of scrutiny that Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan for his unorthodox bowling action. And even fewer emerged stronger from such controversies. The cricketer, who turns 49 today, is often referred to as the “magician”. During an extraordinary career beginning in August 1992, he surpassed all the obstacles with sheer iron will and in 2005, the ICC modified the rules to allow his unusual arm movement.
Here is a look at a few of his achievements:
1. Muralitharan took 800 Test wickets at an average of 22.72 and ended up as the highest wicket-taker in the format.
2. Part of a wave of great spinners who dominated the game at the turn of the century, his record 534 wickets in 350 ODIs too is a testimony of his iron will.
3. The off-spinner is credited with developing a new type of delivery, called the “doosra,” in which the ball turns away from a right-handed batsman.
4. He claimed 10 five-wicket hauls and 15 four-wicket hauls in ODIs.
5. Muralitharan has taken nine wickets in a Test innings twice and he has taken 10 wickets in a Test in four consecutive matches on two occasions.
6. In 2017, he became the first Sri Lankan to be included into the ICC Hall of Fame.
7. Wisden cricket in 2002 ranked him as the leading bowler in history, ahead of Australian great Shane Warne.
8. Muralitharan played the final match of his Test career, against India in July 2010.
9. He took up cricket at the age of eight as a medium-pacer. His coach at St Anthony’s College in Kandy, Sunil Fernando, suggested he switch to off-spin.
10. His proudest moment on the pitch came in 1996, when Sri Lanka won the World Cup.