Sri Lanka’s Murali calls bowling action ‘a gift from God’

July 8, 2010 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s world bowling record holder Muttiah Muralitharan on Thursday brushed aside criticism of his bowling action saying his unorthodox style was a gift from God. Muralitharan’s 18-year career was marred by controversy due to his bent-arm action — the result of an elbow deformity since birth — which helped him impart considerable turn and bounce even on the most placid wickets.

“I have no regrets at all of being called a controversial bowler,” the 38-year-old told reporters in Colombo. “I have proved everything by use of technology. I don’t regret anything. My talent is God’s gift.”

The unusual action sparked uproar in the cricket world, especially in Australia where umpires no-balled him for throwing and former prime minister John Howard once called him a “chucker”.

Muralitharan’s action first came under the microscope when Australian umpire Darrel Hair called him for throwing during Sri Lanka’s tour Down Under in 1995-96.

He was called again during a later tour of Australia in 1998-99 but was subsequently cleared after further tests.

But the International Cricket Council, which carried out bio-mechanical tests on the bowler, cl