Murali backs R Ashwin to emulate his rare feat of 800 Test wickets

Written by Abhishek Patil

Former Sri Lankan bowler Muttiah Muralitharan, who played his last international match against India, finished with exactly 800 wickets in the longest format of the game.

The 800-wicket haul is no mean feat and not many bowlers can dream of matching it. Muralitharan said while he does not see any youngster reaching the landmark, he backed senior Indian off-spinner R Ashwin to compete 800 Test wickets. Murali also said that he doesn’t think Australia’s Nathan Lyon is good enough to reach the milestone.

“Ashwin [who has 377 Test wickets] has a chance because he is a great bowler,” said Murali. “Other than that, I don’t think any younger bowler coming in will go to 800. Maybe Nathan Lyon is not good enough to reach it. He is close to 400 [396] but he has had to play many, many matches to get there,” he said.

The 48-year-old also highlighted why taking wickets was tougher during his time compared to today where bowlers can bag a five-wicket haul by sticking to a particular line and length.

“The problem in Test cricket is that Twenty20s and one-day internationals have changed the dynamics. When I played, the batsmen were technically so good and wickets were flat; now, they try to finish matches in three days,” he said.

“The bowlers in my day had to do extra work to get spin and do something magic to get results. Nowadays, if you bowl line and length over a period of time, you will get five wickets. It is guaranteed because batsmen cannot stay for long without attacking.

“You have a better chance of taking wickets, which is why spinners only have to set the field properly, bowl line and length and let the pitches and batsmen do the rest. Spinners used to have to work hard for wickets, which is why they worked hard on developing other deliveries.

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Abhishek Patil