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Symonds urges fans to applaud Murali

The Aussie asks fans not to taunt the SL spinner if he passes Shane Warne's Test record while touring Australia this year.
AFP | By HT Correspondent, Sydney
UPDATED ON JUL 21, 2007 01:04 PM IST

Andrew Symonds on Saturday urged Australian cricket fans not to taunt Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan if he passes Shane Warne's Test wicket world record while touring Down Under this year.

Australian crowds have regularly abused "Murali" since he was twice called for throwing, with even Prime Minister John Howard labelling him a "chucker."

There are fears the harrassment, which led to the spinner boycotting a tour Down Under in 2004, will intensify if he eclipses Shane Warne's 708 Test wicket haul on Australian soil later this year.

Australian all-rounder Symonds, Muralitharan's former teammate at English county side Lancashire, said he would be embarassed if the Australian crowds failed to acknowledge his achievement.

"I just hope the beer drinkers in the sun don't give him a hard time and late one afternoon if he breaks the record they start on him," Symonds told Australian Associated Press.

"I hope that doesn't happen, I hope people can stand up and actually applaud him for what he is - a legend."

Muralitharan has 700 Test wickets and is likely to overtake Warne's 708 in one of the two Tests between Sri Lanka and home side Australia in November.

Symonds said if Murali snared the record, he did not want the Australian crowd to sour the moment.

"Definitely it would be embarrassing for us as a team if they didn't (applaud him)," Symonds told AAP.

"We respect him for his skills and for what he has done and I think it would be rude, straight out rude, if they didn't sort of respect him and give him the pat on the back he deserves."

Controversy over the bowler's action exploded publicly on Boxing Day 1995 when Australian umpire Darrell Hair called Murali seven times for throwing, creating a furore.

He was subsequently called during a one-day series in Australia, which almost prompted Sri Lanka to walk off midway through a one-day match in Adelaide four years later.

Murali refused to tour Australia in 2004 because of his treatment by Australians, including Prime Minister and cricket fan John Howard.

Largely on the back of controversy surrounding Murali, the International Cricket Council set up a detailed study of bowling actions with the latest scientific equipment, and found that just about every bowler threw the ball to some extent.

It was only when a bowler's arm flexed to 15 degrees that it became detectable to the naked eye so the ICC set 15 degrees as the limit for a bowler's elbow movement.

Any bowler now reported by umpires for having a suspect action must be scientifically tested. If found to be outside the 15-degree parameter the bowler is banned and must have remedial work with experts before being allowed to play again.

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