Celebrations, wishes rolling in for Murali

Muralitharan was glad that the record-breaking wicket had come on home soil, rather than on the recent tour to Australia.

updated: December 04, 2007 15:52 IST
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Kandy/ Melbourne:

Sleepy little Naren, huddled in his mother Madhi's arms, simply gazed at his father - spin legend Muthaiah Muralitharan - as the 35-year-old broke the world record for the highest number of Test wickets here on Monday.

Muralitharan reached the milestone of 709 wickets in his 116th Test, 29 less than previous record-holder Shane Warne, with an average of 21.70 compared to the Australian's 25.41.

Muralitharan was glad that the record-breaking wicket had come on home soil, rather than on the recent tour to Australia.

"It is the right timing," he said. "It's my home town, my parents are here, my wife is here, all the relatives are here and all my school friends.

"Everybody is here. It's a bigger moment than if I had taken it in Australia. It's the right time I think. It's not easy to take six wickets in an innings," the off-spinner said.

The stadium came alive when the record was broken with Muralitharan being given a thunderous applause from his school and college friends who had converged at the Asgiriya Stadium in Kandy, about 115 kms from Colombo.

He was again the scourge for opposition batsmen and his figures at the end of England's innings read 35 overs, 14 maidens, six wickets for 55 runs.

On asked about the delivery that got him the 709th wicket of Paul Collingwood, Muralitharan said "It was not meant that way because I tried to spin the ball and it didn't spin."

Asked about the highlight of his Test career, he replied: "It was in England when I took 16 wickets at the Oval (in 1998) because it made people think that I was a good bowler and one who could take wickets overseas as well as at home."

'Murali is unique'

Tom Moody feels privileged to have contributed to Muthiah Muralidharan's feat of breaking Shane Warne's Test wickets record even if those contributions were occasionally inglorious.

Moody was Muralitharan's second Test victim, bowled by a delivery "that almost pitched off the strip and spun back five feet" at Colombo's Sinhalese Sports Club in 1992.

Moody returned 12 years later to coach the Muralidharan-inspired Sri Lankan side.

"There was always pretty good banter from him about me being his second wicket," Moody said. "I always told him that I should have been his first, because the bloke he got out before me, Craig McDermott, was caught behind off the thigh pad.

"I can clearly remember the ball he got me out with. It almost pitched off the strip and spun back five feet to bowl me middle-and-off while I was padding up. We thought he was a leg-spinner; his action was that unusual.

"It's no surprise that he got the record. Like Warney, he's a unique bowler in modern-day cricket and he deserves his success."

Muralidharan broke Warne's record of 708 Test wickets when he dismissed Paul Collingwood during England's first innings in Kandy, Sri Lanka, to take his 709th wicket.

Muralidharan achieved the record in his 116th Test and on his home ground, which had been eagerly awaiting the historic moment over the first two days of the Test.

After a difficult tour of Australia, where he managed four wickets in two matches, Muralidharan closed in on the milestone with four wickets during the second day.

Muralidharan and Warne came face to face during Sri Lanka's recent two-Test tour of Australia. During the tour Muralidharan was unable to take the required seven wickets to beat Warne's record on Australian soil.

(With IANS inputs)