All eyes on Murali
Sri Lanka’s legendary off spinner Muttiah Muralitharan was the cynosure of all eyes as he began his farewell Test match against India at the Galle International Stadium yesterday. As bad weather delayed the start of the match by half an hour, Muralitharan walked into the middle to a rousing welcome with warm congratulations from the Indian and Sri Lankan cricketers.
The 38-year-old veteran spinner was then presented with a special plaque as a token of appreciation by the Central Province Chief Minister Sarath Ekanayake and Sports Minister C. B. Ratnayake.
A specially designed coin was used by the match officials to be tossed with Muralitharan’s face on one side and some of his masterly statistics on the other side.
And fittingly Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara won the toss and had no hesitation in electing to bat first. As a result Muralitharan will have to wait further to get the ball in his hand to make his presence felt in his farewell test match.
Muralitharan needs just eight wickets in his final test appearance to become the first player to reach the 800 wicket mark. In addition the Galle International Stadium is one of Muralitharan’s favourite venues having captured 103 wickets from 14 tests.
We salute Muralitharan for his great achievements in international cricket. We are proud and honoured to have him as a son of mother Lanka. He is truly an honourable man who has decided to retire at the right time to make way to a new wave of young bowlers instead of greedily clinging-on, as another person turned politician did to his shame. Murali has made his niche in international cricket history by his remarkable achievements.
What we need to recognise is also that Murali is fluent in all three languages, Tamil, Sinhala and English. He is a model for all Lanka’s children to be fluent in all three languages. This would further the concept of Sri Lanka as one nation with rich cultural, racial and religious compositions. Murali is anathema to those extremists who try to tear Sri Lanka apart on racial lines. Murali is an object lesson that we can live together as children of one mother Lanka and prosper together to achieve great heights on whatever course we set our minds on.
I join with all my countrymen to wish Murali a very happy and peaceful retirement from international cricket, and as he embarks on a new career may he find fulfilment and shine equally well! Mother Lanka is blessed to have a son of Murali’s calibre. May there be many more such sons in Sri Lanka!