Sri Lanka drum up Asian support for Murali

Agence France Presse

Colombo, May 19:

Sri Lanka’s prime minister on Wednesday vowed to drum up South Asian support and sue the ICC over a decision to outlaw Muttiah Muralitharan’s controversial ‘doosra’ delivery. PM Mahinda Rajapakse said he would meet envoys of Bangladesh, India and Pakistan to seek support for Sri Lanka’s defence of the star off-spinner, who has been described as a “chucker” by Australian PM John Howard. He brushed aside ICC chief Ehsan Mani’s advice to both prime ministers to stay out of the Muralitharan row and allow the ICC to deal with the situation.

Howard remarked on Friday he believed Murali was a chucker, prompting the world record-smashing spinner to consider boycotting Sri Lanka’s tour of Australia in July. Rajapakse then reacted to Howard’s remarks by announcing his intention to sue the ICC, but Mani said he had no concerns over the ICC’s banning of Muralitharan’s ‘doosra’. “I don’t know the basis of how we’d be sued, but all our regulations are fully supported by all our members,” Mani said, referring to the fact that the Sri Lankan board is part of the ICC. Rajapakse told reporters he would also be consulting lawyers on Thursday on action to be initiated against the ICC. “What we are doing is not politics,” Rajapakse said.

“It is my duty to protect one of our national treasures. Muralitharan is not only the pride of Sri Lanka, but the entire region.” Rajapakse said Muralitharan, the most successful bowler in Test with 527 wickets, was a national asset and he would do everything within his power and that of the government to defend the bowler.