GALLE: Sri Lanka’s star spinner Muttiah Muralidaran retired from Test cricket after dominating the International Cricket Council’s player rankings for Test bowlers for the best part of his glittering 18-year career.
Not only was he the first to reach the 800-wicket landmark, he also spent a record 214 Tests and 1,711 days in the number one spot of the rankings.
The 38-year-old bowed out in third position behind South Africa’s Dale Steyn and Pakistan’s Mohammad Asif after climbing two spots in the latest rankings following his figures of five for 63 and three for 128 which set-up a 10-wicket victory for Sri Lanka in the first of the three-match Test series in Galle.
The spinner first surged to the top of the bowling rankings in 2002 after his match figures of nine for 91 made him the quickest bowler to reach 400 Test wickets.
Within a year of making his Test debut against Australia, Muralitharan broke into the top 20 when he jumped to 19th in 1993 and then never dropped out.
The closest he came to slipping out of the top 20 was in 1997 against New Zealand when he was briefly in 20th position.
Muralitharan’s rating was consistently above 800 and often above 900 ratings points, an indicator of sustained and outstanding performances. While his average career rating was 770, he is also the only Sri Lankan bowler to achieve more than 800 ratings points.
Sangakkara questions ICC Test rankings
Sri Lanka’s skipper has questioned the way the ICC Test rankings work. This was in response to a query whether the players take seriously a system that has India at No.1 despite not having won a series in Australia, South Africa and Sri Lanka since 1993. “If you want rankings, they should count towards playing a Test championship” urged the captain.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2010.