The cricket world will remember this day as the one on which its greatest offspinner rolled his arm over for the last time in Tests. It was a day rich in emotion and scripted perfectly, as Muttiah Muralitharan ended his career by picking up his 800th Test wicket with the last ball he bowled.
But, in rather typical fashion, the affable Sri Lankan turned it into a day in which he honoured those who taught him the game, and showed that he is not short of gratitude.
Among his special invitees were Sunil Fernando, who coached him in school, and Daryl Foster, who worked with him first at Kent and then in western Australia’s biomechanics lab when accusations of chucking were being hurled at him.
Murali’s family was there too: parents Sinnasamy Muttiah and Lakshmi, Chennai-born wife Madhimalar and son Naren, along with his brothers Shashi, Prabhu and Shree. The significance of the day was lost on young Naren but the others were delirious with delight.
“It was very, very important to him that the whole family be present to watch him today,” Madhimalar told the Hindustan Times as the presentation ceremony unfolded after the game. “It’s his milestone and you can imagine how much we wanted to be here for him.”
But Murali’s loyalty goes beyond family. “He never ever forgets people who have helped in his most difficult times,” explained Madhimalar. “He wanted all the people who went out of the way to help him when he was in trouble to be here and celebrate with him.”