Cricket: More Muralitharan woe

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The Independent Online
THE BOWLING action of the Sri Lankan off-spinner, Muttiah Muralitharan, has come under more scrutiny in Australia. Peter van der Merwe, the referee for the Carlton & United one-day series, which also involves England and the host nation, is to submit a report to the International Cricket Council asking for a review of Muralitharan's style.

At least two Australian umpires have aparrently expressed doubts about the Sri Lankan's action during the tri-nations one-day series. Van der Merwe, a former South African Test captain, was hoping to speak to the International Cricket Council's chief executive, David Richards, during today's Australia against England match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

"It is certainly not the standard action," said Van der Merwe of the Sri Lankan spinner who destroyed England in last August's Test at The Oval. "Part of my job is to look out for bowlers with doubtful actions.

"I will be sending a report to the ICC and they can handle it how they see fit. It is not for me to decide whether he is a chucker. The ICC has a sub-committee that makes a decision and may recommend remedial coaching.

"It is a very distasteful thing to brand someone a chucker. But it is much better to try to rescue them than make a scapegoat of them."

It will be the sixth time in as many years that the ICC has received reports over Muralitharan's action. He was sensationally no- balled seven times in three overs by the Australian umpire, Darrel Hair, in the Melbourne Test against Australia on Boxing Day 1995.

Later on that tour, he was called again during a one-day international by two Australian umpires, Ross Emerson and Tony McQuillan. They are scheduled to stand in England's match against Sri Lanka in Adelaide tomorrow week.

Hair, a member of the National Grid International Panel, voluntarily stood down from officiating in Sri Lanka's matches during this series after describing Muralitharan's action as "diabolical" in his book released late last year.

The Sri Lankans have passionately denied Muralitharan's action is suspect. They claim his unusual style is the result of a birth defect.

Aamir Sohail, who captained Pakistan to successive series defeats at home against Australia and Zimbabwe, has been dropped from the forthcoming tour of India.

Aamir, who had already been replaced as captain by Wasim Akram, was not included in the 16-man squad announced yesterday for the tour. No reason for his omission was given by the Pakistan Cricket Board, although he has stayed away from a training camp at Karachi on health grounds.

Pakistan leave for India next Thursday for a tour already mired in controversy, after threats by India's right-wing Hindu Shiv Sena party to disrupt the first Test series between the neighbouring states since 1989. Activists dug up the Delhi pitch where the first Test was due to be played. It will now be played in Madras.

PAKISTAN SQUAD (Tour to India): Wasim Akram (capt), Moin Khan (vice-capt), Saeed Anwar, Wajahatullah Wasti, Mohammad Naveed, Ijaz Ahmad, Salim Malik, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Yousaf Youhana, Shahid Afridi, Waqar Younis, Shoaib Akhtar, Azhar Mahmood, Saqlain Mushtaq, Mushtaq Ahmad, Nadeem Khan.

The third one-day international between New Zealand and India was abandoned twice because of rain in Wellington, yesterday and today.

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