Iconic spinner spent record 214 Tests and 1,711 days in number-one spot
ICC President Sharad Pawar: “He is a great cricketer who uses his fame to the benefit of his community”
ICC Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat: “He has written yet another chapter in the history of Test cricket and we at the ICC thank him for his contribution to this format of the game”
Sri Lanka’s iconic spinner Muttiah Muralidaran retired from Test cricket on Thursday after dominating the Reliance Mobile ICC Player Rankings for Test bowlers for the best part of his glittering 18-year career.
The 38-year-old champion off-spinner, who finished with 800 wickets from 133 Tests, bowed out in third position behind Dale Steyn of South Africa and Pakistan’s Mohammad Asif after climbing two spots in the latest rankings following his figures of 5-63 and 3-128 which set-up a 10-wicket victory for Sri Lanka in the first Test of the three-match series in Galle.
The Kandy-born spinner had first surged to the top of the bowling rankings in January 2002 after his match figures of 9-91 which not only paved the way for Sri Lanka to make a clean sweep of the three-Test series against Zimbabwe but also made him the quickest bowler to reach 400 Test wickets.
He went on to spend a record 214 Tests and 1,711 days in number-one position. Australia’s former Test fast bowler Glenn McGrath has the second best record, having enjoyed the coveted No.1 ranking for 174 Tests.
Within a year of making his Test debut Test against Australia at Colombo, Muralidaran broke into the top 20 when he jumped to 19th position in September 1993 at P.Sara Oval in Colombo against South Africa and then never dropped out. The closest he came to slipping out of the top 20 was in March 1997 against New Zealand in Dunedin when he was briefly in 20th position.
Muralidaran’s rating was consistently above 800 and often above 900 ratings points, an indicator of sustained and outstanding performances.
His tally of 920 ratings points in July 2007 during the home series against Bangladesh marked his peak as a bowler. It is the fourth highest rating achieved to date by a bowler after Sydney Barnes (932), George Lohmann (931) and Imran Khan (922).
While his average career rating was 770, he is also the only Sri Lanka bowler to achieve more than 800 ratings points. His former team-mate Chaminda Vaas peaked at 800 in 2005.
ICC Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat, who was one of the first to congratulate Muralidaran as he left the field, paid tribute to him after watching him reach the landmark 800-wicket mark in Galle. He said: “Muralidaran has achieved a mark in Test cricket, the very pinnacle of our game that will provide a target and inspiration for future generations of bowlers.
“Muralidaran has handled not only the success and fame that the great game of cricket has brought him but also the challenges with a calmness and dignity that needs to be recognized and respected by everyone. The tributes that have poured in from all corners of the world have a consistent theme – a great player and a great man has achieved something special in our great game.
“To be in Galle on this historic day will be something I will cherish for the rest of my life. Test cricket has a unique ability to elevate players to the status of legend and there is no doubt that Muralidran has achieved that accolade. He has written yet another chapter in the history of Test cricket and we at the ICC thank him for his contribution to this format of the game.
“I know Muralidaran is not finished as yet as he aims to play in the shorter versions of the game for a few more years and I am sure he, like the rest of us, is looking forward to the ICC World Cup in India, Bangladesh and of course his home country of Sri Lanka.
“If the reception he received in Galle is anything to go by I am sure that Sri Lankan cricket lovers will turn out in their thousands to watch his swansong in the ICC flagship event. I also wish him the very best in his future endevours and hope he’ll be able to stay connected to the game as the sport needs to engage with role models like him.”
ICC President Sharad Pawar added: ‘Muttiah Muralidaran’s achievements have been acclaimed around the cricketing world and rightly so. He deserves all the tributes he is receiving from some of the players he played with and also some of those who he faced.
‘When we recognize the record that Muralidaran has set we must also applaud him for his work with young people in his native Sri Lanka through work with his school, who were represented in the presentation party on Thursday, and also importantly through the Foundation for Goodness which helps local communities in a region of southern Sri Lanka.
“He is also an ambassador for the United Nations World Food Programme which is committed to fighting hunger – particularly among children.
“Few will forget how he worked to help provide food and clothing to those affected by the terrible tsunami in 2004 – especially in the region around Galle where he finished his Test career this week. He is a great cricketer who uses his fame to the benefit of his community.”
Meanwhile, Lasith Malinga has returned to the Reliance Mobile ICC Player Rankings for Test bowler after his man of the match performance in Galle. The fast bowler took 7-105 and has re-entered in 25th position.
The bowlers dropping in the latest rankings include Ishant Sharma 22nd (down by one place), Rangana Herath 31st (down by six places) and Pragyan Ojha 58th (down by nine places).
In the Reliance Mobile ICC Player Rankings for Test batsmen, India opener Gautam Gambhir, middle-order batsmen Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni have failed to retain their places.
Gambhir has slipped six places to 10th position, Laxman has fallen two places to 15th position, Dravid has dropped one place to 18th place while Dhoni has fallen four places to 40th spot.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara has swapped places with his predecessor Mahela Jayawardena. India’s Virender Sehwag, who scored 109 and 31, has opened up a 14-point gap over second-placed Sangakkara.