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Muralitharan criticized for helping Australians

July 26, 2016

PALLEKELE, Sri Lanka (AP) — Muttiah Muralitharan has come under fire from Sri Lanka’s cricket board chief for helping rival Australia in a heated buildup to the three-test series.

Muralitharan, who retired with a world record 800 test wickets, has been a coaching consultant for Australia ahead of the first test starting Tuesday in Pallekele.

Thilanga Sumathipala claimed the Sri Lanka great had let down his fans by helping a country where he’d been accused of cheating during the 1990s.

The board also complained to Cricket Australia that Muralitharan tried to use practice facilities for the Australian team, without permission, and verbally abused Sri Lankan team manager Charith Senanayake.

The winner of the test series receives the (Shane) Warne-Muralitharan trophy.

Muralitharan, who denied Sumathipala’s allegations, was called for chucking during his first tour to Australia in 1995 and later in 1999 by Australian umpires.

He was cleared by the International Cricket Council after tests on his bowling action.

Muralitharan said Sri Lanka’s cricket board had sought help from him only once since his international retirement in 2011.

Australia has employed Muralitharan as a consultant in the past to work both with spin bowlers and batsmen.

“He is obviously got a lot of experience here in Sri Lanka,” Australia captain Steve Smith said of Muralitharan. “He took a truckload of wickets, he is helping our spinners out and it’s great to have someone like that on board with us.”

Recently retired test great and Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara defended his former teammate Muralitharan from criticism, saying the country should be proud of him.

“Murali is a great son of Sri Lanka and he doesn’t have to defend himself,” Sangakkara posted on Twitter, adding that Muralitharan loved his country but was free to consult or coach anyone.

“If SLC had ever asked him to coach Sri Lanka he always will,” Sangakkara said. “He has given his best to his country on the field and off. He is always available for his country all they have to do is ask.”

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