This Day in History (5-Jan-1996) – Muralitharan no-balled for throwing in ODI v WI at the Gabba

During the second Test between Sri Lanka and Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Boxing Day 1995, Australian umpire Darrell Hair called Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan for throwing in front of a crowd of 55000. The off-spinner was no-balled seven times in three overs by Hair, who believed the then 23 year old was bending his arm and straightening it in the process of delivery; an illegal action in cricket.

Ross Emerson, an Australian cricket umpire, made his ODI debut in a match between Sri Lanka and the West Indies in Brisbane on 5th January, 1996. He immediately became controversial, no-balling Muralitharan several times, and continuing to do so even when he switched to bowling legbreaks, which are regarded as being impossible to throw. This led to Muralitharan being dropped by Sri Lanka for the rest of the tour, as he was unable to bowl without being called.

Just before the 98/99 tour, Muralitharan’s action was tested in Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. The tests had concluded that Muralitharan could not straighten the elbow due to congenital deformity. The end result of the Test was that the throwing appeared as an optical illusion. The tests in Hong Kong and the green signal by the ICC allowed Muralitharan to play.

On 23 January 1999 in Adelaide, standing at square leg, Emerson once again called Muralitharan, leading to Sri Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga to lead his team off the field in protest and consult team management and the match referee. The match later continued after Emerson threatened to award the match to England, with Muralitharan confined to bowling legbreaks; Emerson claimed that cricket was controlled by Asian countries. The match turned out to be the last international match for Emerson as an umpire.

Ross Emerson admitted in 2010 that his decision to call the bowler was not entirely his own. Emerson told the The Daily Telegraph in Australia that he no-balled Muralitharan due to orders from an unnamed Cricket Australia official.



This Day in History (25-Jun-1983) – India Wins the Prudential World Cup in England

The 1983 World Cup (also known as the Prudential World Cup) was held from June 9th to June 25th 1983 and was the third edition of the ICC Cricket World Cup. Eight countries participated in this world cup and this was an exciting series of matches right from the start. Non-performing teams at that time, like India and Zimbabwe scored surprising wins over teams like the West Indies and Australia. India and the West Indies qualified for the semi final which came as a surprise since the Indian was considered the underdog back then.

When Kapil Dev led India against the West Indies after defeating England in semi finals, bookmakers odds on India were 66-1. This was a young team (seven of the players were in their twenties) being led by a twenty-four-year-old, confident captain. From being the dark horses to world champions, India stunned the world by beating the defending champions who had won two world cups consecutively. Andy Roberts, Malcom Marshall, Michael Holding and Joel Garner took eight wickets between them, ensuring India walked off the field with just 183 runs in 54.4 overs. India took their critics by surprise when Madan Lal and Amarnath took three wickets each. Vivian Richards was batting on steadily and enthusiastically when Kapil Dev took a splendid catch running backwards. The West Indies lost the match by 43 runs.

Kapil Dev lifted the World Cup trophy over the Lord’s balcony and this remains India’s greatest victory ever. What makes it more special was how a team which was considered a dark horse by many won the game against a team who were till then indisputable world champions. Kapil Dev was the captain who led this team to victory and Mohinder Amarnath was the Man of the Match. The 1983 victory ignited such a passion for cricket that many youngsters were inspired to take up cricket professionally, including a ten-year-old Rahul Dravid (who would later go on to captain the Indian team).