SYDNEY, July 21, 2007 (AFP) – 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.