Sri Lanka’s record-breaking spinner Muttiah Muralitharan launched a blistering attack on Monday on Sri Lanka Cricket after it complained about his behaviour in his new role as a mentor to Australia. After the officials said Muralitharan was damaging his legacy, the 44-year-old accused the board of setting him up as a fall guy if the host lost the series to the visiting Australians.
Muralitharan, the highest wicket-taker in Test history, then accused the board president of knowing nothing about cricket and angrily denounced any suggestion of being “a traitor”.
“If Sri Lanka loses, they (the board) will say it is because of Murali,” he said in a recorded statement. “They have no right to accuse me of being a traitor. Have they done one hundredth of what I have contributed to cricket in Sri Lanka?
“This is a political game to cover their shortcomings,” he added. “I am being used as a pawn to cover their failings.”
His outburst was sparked by a complaint by the board that he had bullied groundsmen into letting the Australians practise on the pitch which hosts the opening Test from Tuesday. Cricket Australia confirmed it had received a complaint about the incident at Pallekele Stadium, on the outskirts of Kandy, but said the issue had been resolved “after discussions between the two managements”.
In lodging the complaint, board president Thilanga Sumathipala accused Muralitharan of insulting Sri Lanka team manager Charith Senanayake.
Muralitharan’s decision to impart his local knowledge to the tourists has raised eyebrows, not least because he was once labelled a “chucker” by Australia’s then-prime minister John Howard.
Sri Lankan skipper Angelo Mathews was more conciliatory. “The Australians obviously saw value in his knowledge of the Sri Lankan conditions,” he said.