By CricketCountry Staff
London: Oct 25, 2011
Legendary Sri Lanka spinner Muttiah Muralitharan opines that even though Sachin Tendulkar is ahead of every batsman in terms of runs scored and centuries hit, the great West Indies batsman Brian Lara is better than him.
"Statistics-wise he may be but there are better players such as Ricky Ponting while Brian Lara is the best player that has ever been. When I bowled, I always found Brian Lara difficult,” Murali said.
Murali, who retired from international cricket after the 2011 World Cup, bagged 800 Test wickets and 534 One-Day International scalps.
The legendary spinner doesn’t even rate himself higher than any other bowler.
"I never really feel that I'm the greatest bowler in the game. Statistics-wise I may be the greatest but I have seen so many great bowlers, great spinners over the years. Shane Warne is one of the greats and it's good for the game that he took a lot of wickets [708 in Tests, 293 in ODIs] and was part of the winning Australian sides. He was a great ambassador for world cricket,” Murali told London Evening Standard.
Murali said India looked poor during their tour of England, wherein they lost the Test series 4-0 and ODI series 3-0.
"India looked a poor side. Sri Lanka weren't poor. We (Sri Lanka) lost only one Test, almost won the one-day cricket and won the Twenty20 match, so I think we did fairly well,” he said.
Talking about Graeme Swann, currently ranked number one in ODI rankings, Murali said, "He started very late. He has a long way to go. I'm not going to put him in Shane Warne's category but he's a good bowler.
The legendary spinner also added that England need to win more matches overseas to prove they really are the No. 1 side. “England are a good team. But the best team in the world? That is difficult to say unless they go and beat people in other people's own backyards."
Bishan Singh Bedi, the former Indian captain and left-arm spinner, says Murali is a pie-thrower. When asked about Bedi’s comments on him, Murali retorts, "I don't care who Bedi is. He is just another cricketer who played a long time ago. That's it! He has only taken around 200 wickets , many people have taken more than 200 in world cricket.”
"I believed in what I wanted to achieve and I achieved it. I have no regrets, I enjoyed my game. I retired when I thought it was time. I didn't want to go on to take 1,000 wickets. Now I just enjoy my life with my family. I look back and think, 'I've had a very good life.' Imagine how many people are suffering to get one meal in this world. I am blessed,” Murali said.
Despite having played his entire career in the backdrop of 26-year civil war between the majority Sinhalese population and the Tamils, Murali insists there was never any kind of tension within the Sri Lankan squad.
"It was not difficult at all. At the time there was nothing really racist about Sri Lankan cricket. If you are good enough, you played for your country. For us players, the civil war and its problems didn't matter. We didn't care much as sport was going on,” he insisted.
Murali, who developed the reputation for being the prankster in the Sri Lanka dressing room, says, "You have to be a little bit like that when you're playing. You have to be joking, have fun, otherwise you will get bored."
The right-arm spinner had migrated from India with his parents, says India is his second home. "My first home is obviously Sri Lanka. India is a great country but a second home."
Murali also praised England batsman Graham Thorpe, who retired from the international cricket in 2005 after scoring 6,744 runs in 100 Tests.
"When I started, English batsmen did not play spin much, then they were not good enough. Nowadays English players play spinners better: reading spin from the hand, not playing off the pitch. Graham Thorpe was the best English batsman, he read my spin and played me well."