Warne v Murali
Murali tops the stats but was Warne the better bowler? Join the Sky Sports debate and pick your winner.
Last Updated: 22/07/10 5:47pm
Muttiah Muralitharan enjoyed a fairytale finish to his career as he claimed his 800th Test wicket with his last ever delivery for Sri Lanka, but can he rightly call himself the best ever?
Shane Warne and Murali have been battling it out for the last two decades to be named as the best spinner around, and possibly the best ever bowler of any kind.
The two stand at the top of the all-time standings for Test wicket-takers and are head and shoulders above their nearest rival - Anil Kumble of India.
Murali now ends with 800 scalps while Aussie legend Warne has 708, but many argue that Warne is the better bowler, and back that up by stating the fact that 176 of the Sri Lankan's victims come from Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, compared to just 17 of Warne's.
Should the standard of opponent be taken into account and the level of competition then Warne would come out on top, with his numerous Ashes battles and also fierce competitions with both New Zealand and South Africa.
Warne also had Glenn McGrath for company for most of his career, meaning that competition for wickets was fierce, with McGrath sitting fourth on the Test wickets list on 563, while Murali was undoubtedly Sri Lanka's go-to bowler throughout his career.
Murali does have 112 wickets against England, 105 against India and 104 against South Africa, but Warne fans will point out that he never made a significant impression in Australia, whether that be because of the barracking he received from the home crowd or the pitches - although Warne never had any problems taking wickets at home.
Then we move on to the controversies, while Warne had plenty of damaging headlines off the pitch, Murali was twice called for throwing, and despite undergoing numerous biometric tests and being cleared by the ICC, that scepticism has never quite left him.
Detractors will always point to that action, and the number of wickets against the weaker Test playing sides when backing Warne as the best, but there can be no denying that both men have been masters of their craft.
Perhaps an edge must be given to Warne in his competitiveness, and the way he dominates a batsman both mentally as well as with his dazzling deliveries, whilst cricket has always been a sport to embrace characters and Warne is undoubtedly one of the brightest ever to take to the field.
Murali has the records though, and even Warne admits that his 800 Test scalps will probably never be bettered, while the Sir Lankan magician also has the most five-fors and ten-wicket matches amongst the multitude of records in his locker.
Ultimately opinion will always be divided about who you'd rather be facing down the other end, but either man is a worthy holder of the word 'legend' and Test batsmen will be breathing easier now both men have called it a day.
Who do you think is the best - Warne or Muralitharan? Have your say by joining the Sky Sports debate.