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Murali is Don Bradman of bowlers: Steve Waugh

March 11, 2004 14:05 IST
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The Australians have finally recognised the class of Sri Lankan off-spinner Muthiah Muralitharan with the former skipper Steve Waugh calling him the Don Bradman of bowlers.

Waugh, who retired as Australian Test skipper after the home Test series against India last January, said there would never be another Bradman with the bat.

But, he wrote in The Daily Telegraph on Thursday, Muralitharan came close, at least statistically, in bowling terms.

Muralitharan exposed Australia's batting limitations against spin with a six-wicket haul in the opening Test in Galle on Monday, the 40th time he has taken five or more  wickets in a Test innings.

Bradman is cricket's greatest batsman with an unprecedented batting average of 99.94 in 52 Tests.

Waugh said that while figures can be misleading in the short term, longevity tends to put them into perspective, and  the 'rubber-wristed illusionist' has no peer as a bowler.

"Such is his aura, whenever anyone mentions Sri Lankan cricket his name immediately springs to mind," Waugh said.

"For teams about to take on this proud cricketing nation, about half the team meeting will revolve around how to combat his (Murali) unique style of bowling.

"This, of course, is much easier said than done because like all great players he has the ability to improvise, evolve and mutate to stay one step ahead of everyone else.

"The dismissal of Darren Lehmann in the first innings was a perfect example of his genius in not only inventing a delivery but in executing it at exactly the right time."

Waugh said that while Muralitharan may appear to be laid back by nature a fierce competitive streak lurks beneath the surface.

"Much in the same vein as (Australian leg-spinner) Shane Warne, Murali tends to dismantle the opposition through imposing body language, immediate detection of any apparent weaknesses, relentless pressure, unfailing accuracy and an enormous repertoire of deliveries," he said.

"He bowls with subtle variations and is capable of turning a match in his team's favour in the blink of an eye.

"With such a unique action, Murali is very hard to pick up when you first face him because of his bent arm and plasticine wrist which propels the ball at various speeds without being easily detected."

Waugh said that like all sportsmen Murali must have an Achilles heel -- although the great ones tend to mask their inadequacies well.

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