'Pitches, referrals has weakened Murali'

'Pitches, referrals has weakened Murali'

The UDRS, which was to have become a permanent feature in Test cricket from October 1 this year, is not in use this series, ostensibly because of technical reasons. Under the system, teams are allowed two successful ‘challenges’ against the on-field umpires’ decision, bringing the third umpire into play for line decisions as well as leg before and caught behind calls.

The third umpire relays relevant data to the on-field umpire, who then decides whether to uphold or overturn his original decision. Sri Lanka used the UDRS, first trialled during India’s tour of Lanka last year, to great effect, and Hathurusinghe used that as an example of why Muralitharan hadn’t taken more than five wickets in two Tests on this tour.

The legendary offie’s wickets have come at an average of more than 70, a strike rate of nearly 120 deliveries per stick and a run rate in excess of 3.5.

 “Murali not being more effective has to do with the wickets, obviously,” said the former all-rounder.

“Also, in Sri Lanka when he took 23 wickets in three Tests, we had the referral system. If you go round the stumps and hit the pads, you are pretty much out if the umpire rules it not out and the fielding captain challenges the call if he is convinced it pitched in line. We don’t have the referrals here.

 “Also, the pitches this time are the slower side and more conducive for batting, so he has to try other things. He hasn’t gone many times without taking wickets in an innings. Obviously, he is ageing him and you can’t expecting him to take 10 wickets and 14 wickets every match.

“But he will bounce back because knowing him, he will never give up. There is a good chance he will win the game for us here, but we all have to accept that he is now 37. But he is one person who doesn’t want to get hit all the time. He is the world’s highest wicket-taker, he definitely has more options than any other bowler on the park.”