SPIN MAESTRO: Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan appeals for a wicket in a 2010 ODI clash against Australia.
SPIN MAESTRO: Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan appeals for a wicket in a 2010 ODI clash against Australia. DEAN LEWINS

Murali, Law give Aussies an inside edge over Sri Lanka

CRICKET: With spin legend Muttiah Muralitharan and former Sri Lanka coach Stuart Law on the payroll for its three-Test tour of the island nation, Australia cannot be accused of failing to do its homework.

Australian captain Steve Smith has been picking the brains of Muralitharan, who retired from Test cricket six years ago after taking 800 wickets in his 133 Tests for Sri Lanka.

“He’s obviously got a lot of experience here in Sri Lanka and he took a truckload of wickets, so it is great to have someone like that on board to give us that insight,” Smith told reporters in Colombo.

“He’s been really good around the group so far, and he’s enjoying his time with us.”

Asked why he was helping Australia, Muralitharan told Cricket Australia’s website he was “not involved in Sri Lankan cricket at all”.

“I think the gap’s (not there) in the Sri Lanka team, they already have a spin coach, fast bowlers and everything,” he said.

“I think giving quality time to my family is most important, that’s why I take smaller jobs – two weeks, three weeks (stints as a consultant) because those sort of jobs are not available in Sri Lanka.”

Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews sounded comfortable with Muralitharan working for the rival side, but conceded the spin great had plenty to offer.

“Well he’s a professional and he’s into coaching now,” Mathews told ESPN.

“I think helping Australia out with insight – he’s got so much experience – it will be a great help for them to get some advice.”

Law, who has coached Queensland, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, was hired in April for the tour, with Australia coach Darren Lehmann saying at the time the former Australian batsman’s knowledge of batting in Sri Lanka could be a “huge advantage” for the tourists.

Muralitharan also worked for Australia in 2014, coaching spinners Nathan Lyon and Steve O’Keefe during the series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates.

The first of the Tests begins in Pallekele on July 26.

The visitors’ first and only practice match will be against a Sri Lanka Board XI, beginning on Monday.


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