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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 January 2006, 10:09 GMT
Murali coaxed back to Australia
Muttiah Muralitharan
Muralitharan is regarded as Sri Lanka's most important player

Sri Lanka star Muttiah Muralitharan was persuaded back to play in Australia by the country's response to the Asian tsunami disaster, his captain said.

The prolific wicket-taker refused to come on Sri Lanka's previous Australia tour in 2004 because of constant barracking by the home crowds.

"He said he wouldn't tour Australia when we toured here for the two Test matches," said Marvan Atapattu.

"But the tsunami game turned corners. I think it made him think differently."

Muralitharan has endured a frosty cricket relationship with Australia which began when he was called for throwing.

That happened during a Test match in Melbourne in 1995, since when neutral umpires have been put in place in Test matches.

However, the thaw began when Muralitharan took part in a fund-raising match for tsunami victims in Melbourne last year.

Sri Lankan coach Tom Moody urged Australian crowds to end the "no-ball" chants.

Moody, an Australian, said: "It's not ideal and it's a shame that it happens, particularly since he's gone through every test and scrutiny a player could possibly go through.

"We just need to enjoy the special talent he's got and let the game progress."

Sri Lanka play Victoria on Wednesday in their only warm-up match before the tri-series opener against Australia here on Friday.

The third international team featuring in the tournament is South Africa.


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