Island Cricket

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Eggs and abuse hurled at Murali in Australia

Cricinfo: Members of the Sri Lankan camp in Australia for the CB series were the target of verbal abuse and had eggs thrown at them on Thursday night in Hobart. Muttiah Muralitharan and a team selector were part of a group walking from a restaurant to the team hotel and the selector was hit on the back by an egg. As a result, the Sri Lankan board has asked Cricket Australia (CA) to tighten security around the team.

"Muralitharan, along with one of the selectors and the team masseur, were walking on the street in Hobart when suddenly from nowhere a car passed them and the guy starts abusing," a source close to the team confirmed to Cricinfo.

"He then came back a few more times and repeated this and suddenly he started throwing eggs in their direction. One landed on the back of the selector. The team management has lodged a protest with the cops but fortunately nothing untoward happened on the ground."

It is not clear whether Muralitharan was the target of the attack, though Sri Lanka's manager, Sriyan Samararatne, suggested it was unlikely, arguing it was dark and that the car was travelling at too great a speed for recognition.

"I don't know the exact motive. I doubt whether they recognised Murali but unfortunately he was there," Samararatne told the Fox Sports website. "We told Cricket Australia about it and they were very upset." Samararatne added also that nothing untoward had occurred when Sri Lanka played a Test in Hobart last November.

Muralitharan's presence is bound to complicate matters. The spinner, who is the world's leading Test wicket-taker, has had a difficult time in Australia in the past. His action was no-balled early in his career in 1995-96, since when crowds have often heckled him at various venues. The reaction was so hostile Muralitharan refused to tour Australia in 2004, but he returned for Sri Lanka's series last November when the heckling seemed to have eased off.

K Mathivanan, the SLC secretary, said the board had informed CA about the matter and had asked for security for the team to be enhanced. "We have drawn the attention of Cricket Australia to this incident yesterday. They have already given the team security. But we have asked the authorities whether this can be beefed up further," Mathivanan told PTI.

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