Muttiah Murlitharan & The Moment of Climbing the Everest

Muttiah Murlitharan picked up his 800th Test wicket against India in the form of Pragyan Ojha; he became the highest wicket-taker in any form of the game.

Have you ever felt the emotions of standing on the peak of Mount Everest?? No, because none of us has been able to climb its top till now. People standing on the foot of the highest mountain of the universe, can neither watch its peak or realize how much effort it takes to achieve the success. The moment is totally overwhelming and second to none and proves all the hard-work & sacrifice for it.

An Unimaginable Record in Making

The game of Cricket has his own Mount Everest in Muttiah Murlitharan from Sri Lanka. The Kandy boy did establish a giant stand before everyone by taking 800 test wickets. I was just wondering Fred Trueman’s words whenever I came across those exceptional moments, that whoever after him was to take 300 wickets in test Cricket would be a tired man.

“Nobody will think of 800 or 1000 or 1500 wickets because when you start playing, you think about playing for your country.” Quoted the special man to ESPN with a shiny smile covering his face. “Playing the first test match and trying to do well. I never thought of 800 untill I reached close.” 

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 If the journey was about hard-work and sacrificing everything, specially your time with the family, then its ending or rather than the way it appeared was the most surprising to everyone except Murali; may be the greats know the exciting fashion of doing it; they know how to deliver when it matters the most. He was still eight wickets away from reaching the landmark when he decided to announce his retirement after the first 2010 India test.

The thought-process of a Legend:

In an Instagram chat with Indian off-spinner Ravichandan Ashwin, Murli’s last test captain Kumar Sangakara remembered the incident that he couldn’t obeyed the decision of Murli’s retirement. “I said ‘Murli, we know you like taking up challenges, but think of it this way. It’s a tragic if you come so close and don’t get your 800.” The gentle reply speaks highly about his passion and character for the game, “You know what? That’s not going to work for you or for me… if I am supposed to be the best spinner, I should be able to take 8 wickets at Galle against any side… if I can’t get it, I can’t get it. Thank you very much.” Sangakara quoted as said by Muttiah Murlitharan.

Definitely, great players never read a single page of their own record book but every companion and their fans must want the special achievement. So, Murli needs to get 8 wickets to get the wonder and that too against the team that plays spin well. “Incredible that he was on 792 getting into the final match and the retirement was already announced.” Told former Indian batsman Sanjay Manjekar to ESPN. “I wonder if he had the confidence of getting eight wickets in that match… if that was the case, this tells you the ability of the man & the way he thinks of the game.” Can he do it? Fingers crossed!!

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Sri-Lanka opted to bat first:

People say that whenever you want to reach a milestone, the wait keeps on growing long enough and exactly the same occurred to the Sri-Lankan star. Kumar Sangakara winning the toss opted to bat that saw the top order flourished and all the rare things were clicking at the same time- the tail-enders long batting, a fully day of rain and so many.

“Somebody who just loved bowling over after over and that suited Sri Lanka perfectly.” Describes Manjrekar about the passion of Murlitharan of the game. 5 wickets in the first innings including the prize scalps of Sachin Tendulkar & Yuvraj Singh, took Murli to 797, 3 shy of the magical number. Sanga went for the follow-on option to prize Murli enough time.

Malinga spoiled Murli’s first innings party:

But, it seemed like it would be the toughest job watching your team-mate, Lashith Malinga, taking 5-wickets in the second innings and making your party spoiled. The time might be pushing so many to have a re-visit to the moment when Anil Kumble took all 10-wickets of an inning against touring Pakistan side in 1999 because you require help too from others. Murli did get Yuvraj and Harbhajan but was denied to the plumb LBW decision of VVS Laxman, who at last got run-out.

1 wicket left for both India and Murli. Will he finish his career on Bradmansque 799 ?? “He’d been bowling for a long time that day and the bite just seemed to have gone out of his deliveries.” Delivered SL Correspondent, Andrew Fernando to ESPN.

As time went on, Murli was getting tired and frustrated and why shouldn’t he be ? After all, he has bowled approximately 40% overs of the Indian innings. The last wicket partnership for one hour or so between Ishant Sharma & Pragyan Ojha was making it more tough for the off-spinner.

c Jayawardhane b Murlitharan:

“I didn’t know even that I will take the 800 but it all happened on that day.” Wondered Murli to ESPN. Of course, Kumar Sangakara kept him on bowling to get the moment done because crazy things happen quite often in this sport.

But the wait finally came to an end when an edge of Ojha sat on the comfortable hands of Mahela Jayawardhane at first slip and the Galle crowd roared with firecrackers. “ ‘c Jayawardhane b Murlitharan’ is the most prolific bowler fielder combination in the history of test Cricket.” Expressed A. Fernando.

Now just keep your hands on your heart and think with sense; WILL THAT RECORD BE BROKEN ?? The way Murli explains the formula of reaching to 800 test wickets, it might sound easy but surely next to impossible to others. The math is physically simple but functionally tough.

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Can Someone Break the Record:

“It’s a number at the end of the day because if someone can play for 15 to 20 years, take 6-wickets per test match.. if he plays for long.. for more than 130-140 tests and take six wickets on average, definitely he can break it.” Murli explained with an usual bright smile.

The word reminded me the funnier stories of how a math teacher explains his student that you have 22 chapters in the subject with 11 months to the exam, you have to read just 2-chapters per month or one chapter per 15-days and you can easily score decent number. (Not sure whether you have realized the example or not !! comment me some better examples of Murli’s explanation)

The record is absolutely a mountain to climb and trust me, I will be surprised if that’s going to be broken in the future specially after how bowlers manage their workloads of late after playing those leagues around the globe. One more personal thinking is that we don’t really present Murli the credit he deserves. We always speak about Sachin, Richards or McGrath but hardly about the Kandy boy. He is Cricket’s own Mount Everest. 

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