Spin greats Shane Warne (Melbourne Stars) and Muthiah Muralidaran (Melbourne Renegades) ahead of tonight’s Big Bash showdown. Picture: Wayne Ludbey Source: Herald Sun
I: “Shane Warne and Murali forever linked, but spinning greats just want to perform” — Mark Hayes, in Herlad Sun, 7 December 2012
THE names Shane Warne and Muthiah Muralidaran will be forever linked. Their eye-popping bowling records aside, the Test trophy for which Australia and Sri Lanka compete bears their names and will ensure a timeless bond. But there’s a genuine spirit between the pair, evident yesterday in a warm embrace and banter before they sat together as opponents to promote tonight’s Big Bash opener. “People say this match is Murali against Warne, but it’s much more than that,” Muralidaran said. “People say it always has been between us — especially when Sri Lanka and Australia played — but we just both do our best, try hard, for our team. I’m happy our names are together because I’m happy with my achievements and I think Warne is the same and we both did well in international cricket.”
Warne, too, is happy with the comparison. “He’s the way he looks to everyone — he’s very funny and he’s the ‘wirly-twirly’ man,” Warne said of the man who took his Test wicket-taking record. He’s always got a smile on his face, he’s theatre, he’s entertaining and what he does with the ball is pretty special.”
The pair share another special tie — their work in Sri Lanka after the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004 and the time they shared helping rebuild after the disaster.
“Sri Lanka is a special place to me and after the tsunami hit I rang (Murali) and said I wanted to come over straight after that Sydney Test and help,” Warne said. “I had no idea what I was doing, I just wanted to help and stand by his country. I love the Sri Lankan people, they’ve always been nice to me.”
Muralidaran said it was at such significant moments when he realised the power of what he and Warne had achieved. “He helped us put something very bad behind (us),” he said of Warne. “It’s special, because cricket is played around the world and without spectators who come and watch us, there is no cricket.
They have given part of themselves to cricket and it was special that Warne and I had to give them whatever we could (in return).”
II: “No hard feelings, says Melbourne Renegades recruit Muthiah Muralidaran” — Eliza Sewell in Herald Sun, 07 December 2012
BRAD Hodge lobbied Muthiah Muralidaran to join him at the Melbourne Renegades — then upped stumps and signed with the rival Melbourne Stars. The Test wicket world-record holder joked about being jilted yesterday and insisted there would be no grudges when the pair face off at Etihad Stadium tonight. “He (Hodge) convinced me to come and play so then after that he has gone to the Stars; so then I asked him (what’s going on), just a friendly call,” Muralidaran joked yesterday.”No revenge as such because we want to play a good game. They have a lot of good cricketers so we want to compete with them and see how it goes.”
While Australian players including Test captain Michael Clarke and fast bowler Ben Hilfenhaus have pulled out of the opening round of the Big Bash League, Aussie wicketkeeper Matthew Wade will play for the Stars. “It’s good to have him (Wade) back, he’s such a quality player,” Stars captain Shane Warne said. “The first few games are crucial to try to get on that board.”
Warne and Muralidaran are the headline acts, but Warne predicted the Etihad Stadium pitch wouldn’t do them any favours. “So I’m not sure it’s going to spin that much. Spinners generally do pretty well in Twenty20,” Warne said. “When you’ve got a class bowler like Murali bowling it’s always going to be tough work.”
Muralidaran said he hadn’t played any cricket in the past three months but he was “OK to go”.
Renegades captain Aaron Finch said his side had strengthened its middle order this season and South African Faf du Plessis was expected to bat at No.3. “We’re confident in what we can bring to the table and we’re confident in our middle order, where there were some question marks last year, that we can do a really good job and probably contend with the world XI over there,” Finch said.