Bedi a Controversy Monger, Ordinary Bowler: Murali

T V Sriram/Colombo
Bedi a Controversy Monger, Ordinary Bowler: Murali
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Retired spin great Muttiah Muralitharan today lashed out at his long-time detractor Bishen Singh Bedi, calling the former Indian captain a controversy monger and ordinary bowler who would have been hammered by any batsman if was he playing now.

Bedi has been an untiring critic of Muralitharan: repeatedly calling the Sri Lankan a "chucker" and asking the ICC to ban the Sri Lankan's "doosra" as it was illegal.

Muralitharan, who retired last week after completing 800 Test wickets at Galle against India, made an uncharacteristic attack on Bedi, calling him "just an ordinary bowler".

Asked about the lack of world-class spinners in India, except for Harbhajan Singh, after the famed quartret, Muralitharan said Bedi was not in the league of B.S. Chandrasekhar, Srinivas Venkataraghavan and Erapalli Prasanna.

"Bedi, he does not even come to a contest on that. I saw some footage of his playing days. In the modern era, if he plays, he will get hammered on every ball. That is what will happen. So no comparison," the world's most successful spinner told PTI in an interview.

"Prasanna is a good bowler. I have seen his bowling. Venkataraghavan is good. But Bedi does not come in the same league," he said.

Though without mentioning the constant criticism he got from Bedi, the affable Sri Lankan advised the former Indian captain to refrain from whipping up controversies.

"He (Bedi) is also a controversial person. He has had a lot of controversies everywhere in the world. And he should think about himself first rather than talking about other people," Muralitharan said.

Asked about Bedi's comments to ban the 'doosra' from international cricket, Muralitharan lampooned the Indian by saying that he had no variation in his bowling and was therefore critical of others.

"He (Bedi) did not have any variation. He just bowled left arm spin and the pitch did the variation for him. That is what he bowled," he said.

Muralitharan said Anil Kumble was the best spinner India has produced and the records speak for themselves.

"You forget the best spinner is Anil Kumble. Not Bedi or Venkataraghavan or any other. I think the best ever spinner produced (in India) is Kumble. No doubt about it and nobody can doubt it. Statistics-wise and on the basis of other things, he is far ahead of other guys", he said.

Muralitharan refused to compare Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara but said on the basis of statistics, the Indian maestro was far ahead of any batsman.

"Sachin and Lara have been the most consistent batsmen in the world (to face my bowling). I admire them. I have the most regard for those two guys and now place Ricky Ponting also in that list.

"I don't know who plays me better. They are different individuals. Statistics-wise Sachin is heading the pack. You can say Sachin is the best on that basis. But you see the other two players are great players, they are also legends. I think you cannot make comparisons. They play in different conditions and situation," he said.

Muralitharan said he has no regrets in his cricketing career though it was haunted by controversies over his bowling action.

"It (controversy) did not haunt me at all. I went through it and I have done what I wanted to do in my cricketing life. So no regrets. Nothing. I am very happy to retire (from Test cricket)," he said.

He does not agree that players are getting injured due to too much cricket, now that Twenty20 has become big.

"I don't think so. If a player is fit to play, he should play every format. The players' careers are very short, they enjoy all form of the games. So the three forms of cricket will continue, though Test is the ultimate form," he said.

Muralitharan said it would be difficult for India to come back into the three-match series against Sri Lanka as they have little chance to win the second Test.

"Sri Lanka is too strong at the moment. They are playing really well and the batsmen are getting lot of runs. It could be difficult to get a result in this match. If any one can win it, Sri Lanka would be favourites. India cannot win this Test match, unless something unpredictable happens," he said.

He refused to think that the era of Australian domination was over and said they are still a force to reckon with in world cricket.

"Very difficult to say Australia have declined. They may decline for about a year, six months, five months. Then they can come back. So you can't say they are a bad side. They are a very good side," he said.

"Statistically, they were performing brilliantly during the last decade. Now they are missing players like Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath ... Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer to open. So the youngsters will have to come and fill the void. It will take a little bit of time for them," he added.

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