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as when Murali came to Gunasekera to tell him that he was going to retire after the first Test of the three-match series against

in Weihnachts-Forum von Planet Xmas 01.12.2019 04:54
von jcy123 • 5.628 Beiträge

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The Czechs pulled two back in the ninth, but Shusters team of third Jeff Isaacson, second Jared Zezel and lead John Landsteiner ended with another point to secure the last Olympic berth on offer. I dont say that today will provide the answers, but I do think that we manage to unravel some of the mystery. Theres a sincerity to Mark Nicholas as he stares into the camera. He looks almost childlike in appearance: suit slightly oversized, top button done up and tie fastened yet not dovetailing. This isnt the Mark Nicholas who prowls the pristine greens of Australias outfields with the manner of one on top of the food chain. Here he is sitting, shoulders flexed in. Theres uncertainty in the air and he can do little to hide it. The footage rolls.Its July 5, 2004, and Lords is preparing for an England-West Indies ODI. While most of the ground is a hub of noise, as cables are unreeled, fastened and taped, the Nursery Ground is still. Nicholas is in dark trousers and a cream shirt, with sleeves rolled up. Standing next to him, Muttiah Muralitharan is wearing a sleeveless Sri Lanka T-shirt.In conversation Nicholas is clear and concise. Murali stutters, his English sentences crossing a few bumps as they make their way from a mind working in Tamil. Murali is there to prove his worth: to Nicholas, to those operating the cameras, to bystanders who have blagged themselves onto this side of the fence, to those in the production vehicle on site, and in two weeks time, when the footage is to be broadcast during the lunch interval of the England-West Indies Test at Lords, to millions watching. He is here to prove that his 527 Test wickets so far have been achieved fair and square. That, despite what many believe, he is no chucker.With slow, measured gestures, he shows Nicholas what his arm and wrist go through when bowling the offspinner and the doosra. A brace is brought out and put on Murali but it soon comes off as he begins a control spell of two offbreaks, one topspinner and two doosras. He then puts the brace back on, returns to the top of his mark and bowls the same set. Just after his second offspinner - his first was wayward - Nicholas stops him: I am now getting the sense of an illusion. Nicholas wants another look, only this time he wants to take the run-up out of it because of the differences in the load-up, with and without the brace. As before, Murali bowls the offspinner and doosra, and they turn as expected.There is no way the elbow can move here, says Nicholas, emphasising his point by banging down on the pit of Muralis elbow. I put my hand on my heart and I say that.We are returned to the studio, only to be sent back to the footage. This time, only Nicholas stands on the Nursery Ground, with a blue prototype of the brace used by Murali, who has left Lords. Like a sceptical member of the audience who has been serenaded by a magician, Nicholas flicks through the deck of cards. He tries to bowl an offbreak with the brace on. It barely lands on the square. The inability to use his elbow, he says, restricts the ability to bowl the delivery with an orthodox action.After a commercial break, former Middlesex medium-pacer and TV analyst Simon Hughes breaks down the slow-motion footage, looking at how much Muralis arm straightens both with and without the brace. Hughes estimates, with the aid of crude tools, that there is more than five degrees of straightening with both the offspinner and the doosra. At the time, that was the spin bowlers lot (a medium-pacer was allowed 7.5 degrees straightening and a fast bowler ten). By the letter of the law, Hughes suggests, Murali was chucking.Murali would not have been at the Nursery Ground had his action not been called into question yet again. Three months earlier, when Sri Lanka lost a Test series at home to Australia 3-0, his big trick - a delivery that turned from leg to off - had come under scrutiny. He had bagged 28 wickets in the series to take him to 513, six behind Courtney Walsh, then Test crickets leading wicket-taker. But match referee Chris Broad could not shake the feeling that Muralis doosra was being delivered with an action that is not in accordance with the laws of the game. Broads report to the ICC was measured and frank: the doosra - and only the doosra, he was keen to stress - needed to be investigated.Murali found out about the report at the end of the final day of the series, in Colombo - March 28. By March 31, he had touched down in Perth, and the day after, he was at the University of Western Australias School of Human Movement with perhaps the only Australian he truly trusted at the time - Daryl Foster.The pair had first crossed paths in 1995. Foster, coach of Kent, needed an overseas player for the season, with Carl Hooper unavailable. Aravinda de Silva was brought in and with him came a slight, bedraggled yet smiley young offspinner who was preparing for a stint of league cricket in Leicestershire. Many of the Kent players assumed he was just there to carry de Silvas bags. He didnt know how to set a field, he didnt know how to work out a batsman, and he could barely speak English. But he could bowl. Thats all he would do: bowl at players in the nets, day after day, before heading to the Midlands.Murali, as many attest, cannot do subtlety. He is not so much an open book as a talking clock: an utterance a moment to set your watch by. That was startlingly evident even when he returned to Kent in 2003, with more than a decade of international cricket behind him. He would swear by the booming offspinner - the ball he reckoned could make a mockery of the worlds best. By then he had developed the doosra. But when county batsmen started playing him with ease, he panicked. In his head, big turn equalled big reward. And yet here were batsmen he should have been getting out in his sleep, picking each delivery. It was then that Kent opener David Fulton informed him that, from a batsmans point of view, when someone famed for big turn pitches the ball a yard outside a right-handers off stump, with a change-up that lands as far away as leg stump, its fairly obvious what is coming. And so the seeds were sown: turning the ball just enough, either way, was better than turning it a lot from off to leg and vice versa.Foster gravitated to Murali, mesmerised by his action. The pair kept in touch, and when Darrell Hair no-balled Murali at the Boxing Day Test in 1995, Foster, coaching Western Australia, got him over to UWA to have him tested. He passed. Murali returned when he was no-balled by Ross Emerson in 1999. He passed again.Murali put himself forward for testing three further times. Once, he made the journey to Perth simply because he had heard a rumour that an unnamed match referee wanted to string him up for his quicker delivery. When the doosra was called into question by Broad in 2004, Murali was approaching the end of his tether.This time, though, tests showed that his action caused a 14-degree flex, almost three times the limit for a spinner. The next fortnight was spent labouring in suburban nets with Foster, who tweaked his action by a small amount, enough to get the flex down to 10.2 degrees. It was at this point - just as Murali was starting to lose his nerve - that a plan began hatching back in Sri Lanka.Kushil Gunasekera met Murali in 2000, when Sri Lanka hosted the Under-19 World Cup. The pair became friends, and soon after, Murali asked Gunasekera to be his manager. It was a huge deal at the time: not only because it was the first time a Sri Lankan cricketer was being managed, but also because it was a partnership between a Tamil and a Sinhala.Gunasekera is cut from the same moral cloth as Murali. Both are serene optimists whose desire to see the good in people is seemingly at odds with their harsh real-world experiences. Gunasekera is more pragmatic but has often found himself in situations where Murali would consult him when his mind had already been made up. The best example of this was when Murali came to Gunasekera to tell him that he was going to retire after the first Test of the three-match series against India in 2010. Murali was on 792 wickets and many were imploring him to play the full series to give himself the best chance of reaching 800. Gunasekera knew trying to convince him otherwise was futile. Sri Lanka won the opening match, in Galle, and Murali dismissed Pragyan Ojha - for his eighth wicket - with his final delivery in Tests.Now in 2004 with Murali in Perth, there was no one to back up Gunasekera. Despite countless internal meetings, the Sri Lankan board was undecided on a course of action - keen to pursue all avenues to uphold Muralis dignity. Meanwhile, the ICC dragged its heels, trying to comprehend the limits of its own rules.This was when former cricketer turned cricket writer Mahinda Wijesinghe had an idea. A keen historian, Wijesinghe recalled the time when former England captain CB Fry had his action called into question in the late 19th century. Accused of chucking, Fry bowled with a splint on his elbow, preventing it from bending in delivery, to prove he was a legitimate bowler. Wijesinghe teamed up with an Indian orthopaedic surgeon based in Sri Lanka - Dr Mandeep Dhillon - and floated the idea of manufacturing a brace. Gunasekera presented the idea to Murali, who agreed, and upon returning from Perth, worked with the others to build the ideal brace.Once a working sample was operational - the first model was based on an ankle brace that fitted onto the elbow - Murali had to get used to the additional weight. Wijesinghe used his contacts to book the indoor nets at the Nondescripts Cricket Club in Colombo to ensure there were no prying eyes, though they eventually informed the Sri Lankan board of what they were trying. The first taping of Murali with a brace on took place at the indoor nets, with Mohan de Silva - the board president at the time - looking on.While generally happy with the brace, Murali felt it was too clunky. So Dr Dhillon created a plaster cast of Muralis right arm and reinforced it with steel rods, which were held together by heat-moulded plastic. After a few more run-throughs, all parties were satisfied with the brace. Now it was time to let everyone in on the experiment. And it was agreed that an attempt such as this needed a neutral adjudicator to add credence. They knew Sri Lanka as a venue would be counterproductive. Australia was a no go because Murali had opted out of a tour there when Prime Minister John Howard labelled him a chucker. That left England.Muralis doosra was reported in March 2004. Eight months later the ICC changed the flex limit to 15 degrees, no matter the pace of delivery. To this day, the misconception is that the rule was brought in to accommodate Murali, whose doosra had been found to be 14 degrees (this despite it being corrected to 10.2 a matter of weeks later). It could not be further from the truth.Between 2000 and 2002, Marc Portus, a biomechanics expert for Cricket Australia based at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) in Canberra, conducted tests on 21 elite fast bowlers from five countries, in match conditions. He found that 34 deliveries from these bowlers showed straightening of the elbow between three and 22 degrees. Fourteen of those were above ten degrees, with five exceeding 15. In fact, only a handful of bowlers - pace or otherwise - during this period of testing were found to have no elbow extension (or straightening) whatsoever: these were predominantly legspinners, from the best in the world to part-timer Ramnaresh Sarwan.In October 2004, Portus and fellow biomechanists Bruce Elliot and Paul Hurrion made separate and independent presentations to an ICC subcommittee brought together to review the matter of illegal bowling actions. Sitting on the committee were Aravinda de Silva, Tim May, Michael Holding, Tony Lewis and Angus Fraser. Portus showed footage from the AIS study, of all current international bowlers at the ti

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