As India's Pragyan Ojha was caught by Jayawardene on Thursday, cricket history was made. It was the moment that Muttiah Muralitharan captured his 800th Test wicket, a landmark that will surely never be eclipsed.
Murali had gone into the Test, which he had already announced to be his last, he was searching for eight more wickets to reach 800. He took 5-63 in the first innings but had only taken a further two in the second innings as his team-mate Malinga took a five-wicket haul. At nine down, Murali toiled away at one end seeking the elusive final wicket and sure enough, as if taken from a Hollywood script, the spinner claimed his 800th wicket with the final ball of his Test career.
It was an outstanding achievement to bring the curtain down for what was an outstanding cricketer. He has left Shane Warne behind on 708 Test wickets and did so having played eleven less tests. Murali played only ten more Tests than the great Glen McGrath surpassed his wicket total by a staggering 237 which puts this achievement into perspective.
He had the ability to spin the ball any which way while giving little indication to a batsmen as to which delivery he was facing until the ball bounced. He used his devastating variety of deliveries with guile and intelligence allowing him to pick up wickets against any opposition, on any wicket and in any form of the game.
Murali has inevitably been lavished with the praise of greats of the game, past and present, and by journalists worldwide, and quite rightly so. Arguably the greatest bowler to ever play International cricket has retired in emphatic circumstances and the cricketing world has duly delivered a rapturous standing ovation.
Since his test debut against Australia in 1992 there has, however, been a constant controversy surrounding Muttiah Muralitharan and his unorthodox action. Questions have been asked throughout his career as to the legality of his bowling technique, many calling it a throw.
It was thanks to Muralitharan that the definitions of a legal delivery, in terms of the angle of the bowlers elbow, were defined. His action was examined on numerous occasions throughout his career where it was discovered that he had a condition that meant he was unable to fully straighten his arm, making his bowling action occasionally look like a throw. Each of his different deliveries were tested and his arm was even placed in a brace to prevent in bending. After all these tests on his arm, his bowling action was declared to be legal.
There have also been some who have attempted to diminish his record by stating that too many of his Test wickets came against the minnows of Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, 176 in total. Critics were outspoken through his career and a few linger on even now. Thankfully their criticism is widely ignored.
Murali's action was far from textbook but it never failed to get results. He picked up wickets whenever his skipper threw him the ball. He made great batsmen look foolish and did it all with that trademark smile on his face. The record will probably never be broken, his cricket legacy will certainly never be forgotten.
In other cricket news. Pakistan have just sealed their first Test match victory over Australia since 1995, which means that Ricky Ponting still remains without a Test series win in England as captain. Pakistan made needlessly hard work of the win at Headingly though.
Their bowlers excelled in favourable conditions on day one and dismissed the Aussies for 88 in their first innings. Pakistan managed to get a score of 258 in their first innings before Ricky Ponting and co battled to 349 in their second innings, setting Pakistan a target of 180 for the win. They seemed to be cruising to that target last night but they struggled this morning and gave Australia hope by dropping wickets before eventually reaching the required total to draw the series 1-1.
While enjoying watching Australia struggle in all forms of the game this summer, England will have been watching this series with interest as they prepare to take on Pakistan in the first of four Tests at Trent Bridge on Thursday. Although, with an Ashes series looming, Pakistan may not provide the sternest opposition, they have still shown that they are able of very good cricket, especially with ball, they have just lacked consistency.
It will be interesting to see how England fare against Pakistan in the upcoming series... a blog will follow at some point on this I am sure.
Thoughts, comments and opinions please...