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Last Updated:  Monday, 10 February, 2003, 04:26 GMT

Jayasuriya fearful for Murali
Sri Lankan captain Sanath Jayasuriya has accused Muttiah Muralitharan's critics of trying to "destroy" the spinner's career.

Muttiah Muralitharan
Muralitharan is under increasing pressure, says Jayasuriya

Muralitharan has been under increasing scrutiny after a string of injuries and his country's controversial tour of Australia.

The 30-year-old was heckled with shouts of "no ball" during the tour following accusations that he was throwing the ball when bowling.

And on Friday, former New Zealand cricketer Ian Smith poured further scorn on Sri Lanka's leading wicket taker in one-day cricket, describing him as a "chucker".

But Jayasuriya said: "Murali is under a lot of pressure and is copping a lot of stick from the press.

"I'm really not sure what people want from him. If they want to try and take him down and destroy one of Sri Lanka's greatest ever cricketers, they're going the right way about it."

He's still breaking the laws of cricket and therefore should not be allowed to bowl
Ian Smith on Muttiah Muralitharan

Smith stoked the debate still further, suggesting in his book, to be published on Saturday, that Muralitharan was breaking the game's rules.

Smith said: "The Sri Lankan off-spinner throws rather than bowls the ball.

"I've heard all about how he's had a deformity since birth and therefore unable to straighten his right arm. If that's the case, then that's bad luck for Murali.

"He's still breaking the laws of cricket and therefore should not be allowed to bowl."

Jayasuriya, though, defended the spinner but warned the increasing pressure ahead of Sri Lanka's opening World Cup against New Zealand on Monday was already taking its toll.

He said: "He (Murali) wants to win the World Cup, so do we, and it is affecting him.

"He's taken a few things personally and it's hard not to. He realizes he's in the public eye and he's big news all the time, but sometimes you can destroy him if you go too far."





Links to more Sri Lanka stories


 

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Sri Lanka v New Zealand preview
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