Veteran spinner's magnificent total will never be surpassed, says Aussie
Last Updated: 22/07/10 4:12pm
Shane Warne was full of praise for Muttiah Muralitharan after the Sri Lankan became the first bowler to take 800 Test-match wickets.
"There's so much cricket these days but if you work out the numbers someone will have to play 150 Tests and take five and half wickets a Test match to beat him."
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The 38-year-old went into the last day of his final Test match needing two victims to rack up the magical total, and accomplished it in dramatic style.
Muralitharan had earlier removed India's Harbhajan Singh to edge tantalisingly close to his target.
But he had to wait until last man Pragyan Ojha was at the crease before he achieved the milestone, forcing the Indian number 11 to edge to the slips with his final delivery in the five-day arena.
That record-breaking total of 800 means the effervescent Sri Lankan leaves the Test match domain 92 wickets ahead of spinning rival Warne.
And the Australian, who retired from the game in 2007, believes Muralitharan's magnificent total will never be broken.
"800 Test wickets is amazing and I don't think it will ever be beaten," Warne told Sky Sports News.
"There's so much cricket these days but if you work out the numbers someone will have to play 150 Tests and take five and half wickets a Test match to beat him.
"The way he's gone about it has been amazing. There's been a lot of controversy about his action but the ICC cleared him, he was allowed to play and what he did with the ball was amazing.
"And to face it was quite difficult, especially in those spinning conditions in Sri Lanka."
"I remember in 1992 in Sri Lanka when Allan Border was facing him. He'd played a lot of Test cricket and was a good player of spin bowling.
"But Murali bowled five balls to him in a row and he played and missed every time. He went to Murali: 'Excuse me mate, what are you bowling? Off breaks or leg breaks?' He didn't know!"
During their playing careers, Muralitharan - who also claimed 22 10-wicket Test match hauls - and Warne were in direct competition to top the bowling records.
But while he was always eager to surpass the little Sri Lankan with the ball in his hand, Warne says he had nothing but respect for the way Muralitharan played the game.
"I suppose we always kept an eye on each other," added the Aussie.
"I admired him from a distance and when we played against each other we tried to outdo each other. It was more about Australia and Sri Lanka but the little battle within the big battle was fun.
"There was a lot to like about Murali. He always had a smile on his face and seemed to be enjoying his cricket.
"And we always used to have a catch up with a coffee or a water and talk about the game."