The independent voice of cricket


When Murali spun a web around England to catalyse Sri Lanka’s Test surge

Muralitharan v England, 1998
by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

In The Oval Test of 1998, Muttiah Muralitharan dismantled the England batting line-up, accounting for a staggering 16 scalps across two innings to lead his side to a memorable win.

In 1998, despite having won the World Cup just two years before, Sri Lanka were only granted one solitary Test match in an English summer. The second-class citizens of the first-class family, they were stitched on at the end of more lucrative contests, and that was that.

In three previous attempts, they had yet to beat England in their own backyard. But at The Oval in August of that year, Muttiah Muralitharan and Sanath Jayasuriya were about to mug the old lady and run off with her jewels. England batted first and made 445 with hundreds by Crawley and Hick. Murali took seven wickets, but it took him sixty overs, and with almost two days played already, it seemed Sri Lanka would have to wait for this first win.

Not so. Making up for the lost time in spectacular fashion, a murderous double century followed from Jayasuriya, with 33 fours and a six, and this allowed Sri Lanka, with the great Aravinda de Silva weighing in with 152, to make 591, at four runs per over.

There was still time. Murali went back to work, ripping out nine wickets in the second innings to leave England in pieces, and setting up Jayasuriya to smack the winning boundary late on day five. His figures were the best by a Sri Lankan, and the fifth-best of all time. The man, and his country, had arrived.

Sri Lanka would never play a one-off Test again.

First published in 2007

Have Your Say

Become a Wisden member

  • Exclusive offers and competitions
  • Money-can’t-buy experiences
  • Join the Wisden community
  • Sign up for free
Latest magazine

Get the magazine

12 Issues for just £39.99