Muttiah Muralitharan has only two more goals to achieve before he calls it quits. The Sri Lankan off-spinner has set his sight on 800 Test wickets and breaking Pakistan Wasim Akram's ODI record of 502 wickets.
"I am targeting 800 Test wickets. I am 65 short of it," Murali told Hindustan Times in an exclusive chat in Bangalore on Monday. "If I get that, I will be very happy. I will try a little more and take 39 wickets to get past Wasim Akram's world record. These are the two major things. There is nothing else left to achieve for me."
The controversial bowler 36-year-old from Kandy said that he has to work in association with India Test captain Anil Kumble in coaching young spinners.
"I think I am going to play another three years of T20. Having started playing at 8, I would have spent 20 years of my life in cricket. I want to enjoy the other side of life rather than think always about cricket, cricket, cricket," said the 120-Test veteran.
"I would like to something with cricket for my own enjoyment and not for money. I have already spoken with Anil to get together and impart coaching on spin to the youngsters. Anil being a leg-spinner and me an off-spinner, we know more about spin. He is one of the greatest bowers I have ever seen. Both of us can help youngster, mainly in the sub-continent, spend a week or two in academies and do it for three or four times in a year. In bowling, coaching is not about technique but
about sharing the knowledge, telling the youngsters how to bowl in different conditions and in varying situations."
Excerpts from the interview:
How different is it playing in IPL from representing the country?
There is no vast difference. The players are different but the competition is same. Every one of us have the desire to win. Winning is most important.
You are a Sri Lankan Tamil. It was apt that you play for a team from Tamil Nadu in the IPL, wasn't it?
I always hoped that Chennai would pick me because I speak Tamil, my sister is from Tamil Nadu, and my wife is also from there.
Many speak about you capable of reaching 1000 Test wickets. Is it realistically possible?
I can achieve it. But the thing is it is too difficult, and you have to be in the game for too long. I am 36 and want to retire when you I am on top and give way to young bowlers coming up in Sri Lanka.
Till when do you intend troubling the batsmen?
I am enjoying T20 now. I want to enjoy T20 for some more years. It gives me more options. I am signed to play in IPL for three years. After that, I will see if I can hold on to play for one more year but it depends on how well I bowl and how I enjoy the game.
Your body must have taken a beating, having been in international cricket for sixteen years. Don't you feel like saying 'enough is enough'?
I had the best time of my career those 16 years. Every moment was new and I loved the experience. The thing is I got used to my body taking the toll. I train hard and keep myself fit.
Is there anything you want to change in world cricket today?
The way cricket is going is fine. T20 is going to benefit cricket for another 100 years. It is the most exciting format. Having said that, we all love Test cricket more than anything else.
How difficult was it personally for you playing in Australia, especially after being called for throwing in 1995-96?
It was a tough place to play. But players have to put up with it. That is how it is going to be. Things can't be going your way every time. Your difficult times will come. The only time I decided not to go there (2004) was because the Australian Prime Minister John Howard made a comment (about his action) and I did not want a head of state to involve politics and cricket together. That is the reason I did not go. Other than that, I went on every tour.
Were you disappointed that you did not break Shane Warne's world record 709 in Australia last year?
I didn't think anything about world record. When it came, I took it. I knew I was going to break it because I was going to play more when he retired. I knew I had the chance.
How's been your relationship with Warne?
We are just friends, we say hello to each other. We are not enemies. He is one of the greatest bowlers I have ever seen. People will remember him as a great bowler, not his records.
How do you remain humble despite all your achievements in international cricket?
We Sri Lankans are islanders, we are friendly. We are used to this kind of life, we like mixing with people and talking to them. That is the way we have been brought up.
Do you generally association with social causes?
I am involved in a foundation called Foundation of Goodness. We helped the needy in Lanka most of the time. Post tsunami, we built 600-1000 houses and help people in whatever way we could including financial assistance. We get funding from various places.