|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
Murali being victimized: Shastri
August 11, 2004 18:11 IST
Former India cricketer and television commentator Ravi Shastri says Sri Lanka spin ace Muthiah Muralitharan is being singled out and victimized just because he is Asian and a successful bowler.
Shastri argued that while one cannot say Muralitharan is absolutely above board, no action has been taken against "quite of few" bowlers, whom he did not name, "who are no different from him".
"I don't find anything wrong with his bowling action. I have no problems with his off-break. He is an Asian, and that has ruffled quite a few feathers," he said.
According to Shastri, nobody would have raised a finger against the spinner if he had taken an insignificant number of wickets in his career -- "say 25 scalps".
"Muralitharan is being targeted because he is a very successful bowler."
He lashed out at the International Cricket Council rule that allows 10 degrees flexing of the elbow to fast bowlers but only five degrees to spinners, asking why the "different yardstick".
Speaking to reporters after LG show-cased the ICC Champions Trophy 2004 as the official global partner, Shastri said he believes the Indian one-day team that played between 1983 and 1986 was the best Indian team ever, as it was consistent, having won the World Cup, Asia Cup and World Championship during the period.
"The present team of Sourav Ganguly is close to being one of the best," he said, adding, "it needs to be consistent, especially in big games."
Shastri said vice-captain Rahul Dravid should be relieved of his responsibility of keeping wickets in one-dayers, which will take the pressure off him and enable him to concentrate and focus more on his batting.
"If six batsmen cannot win games what can a seventh do?" he asked.
On ICC's opposition to former India captain Mohammad Azharuddin taking up the role of commentator, Shastri said it is for the ICC to take a view after speaking to the BCCI.
"The CBI knows a lot more," he said, obviously referring to the agency investigating the match-fixing allegations against Azhar.
"I have no problems working with him [Azhar]," he said.
"He [Azhar] was a fine cricketer."
Asked if he would be interested if offered the job of India coach, Shastri said he was asked to take up the job a couple of times but since he had made prior commitments he would not have the time for the assignment.
He also said: "I want to have my way [in coaching]. I will not fit in at the moment." But he believes he can impart knowledge to youngsters that could be beneficial.
He said India should adopt a "ruthless" approach in cases of injured cricketers.
"Any injured cricketer, irrespective of his stature, should be made to sit out and the team should back young talent."
On the recent Asia Cup, in which India faltered in the final against Sri Lanka, he said it was a case of game plan going wrong, pointing out that Ganguly's team should have "attacked more" in the first 15-20 overs.