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How Muralitharan became the ‘motormouth’ of the Sri Lankan team

Muralitharan Flintoff
by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

Sri Lanka great Muttiah Muralitharan, the highest wicket-taker in international cricket, carried a seemingly quiet demeanour on the field, but was a chatterbox off it, as revealed by his former teammate Russel Arnold.

Arnold, speaking on the chat show Homerun with AV on the YouTube channel Gethist Creative, recalled how Muralitharan was nicknamed MM – Motormouth (a play on his initials), calling him one of the most “annoying” cricketers to play with.

“There were plenty of love-hate relationships [in the team] – fun at times and annoying on other occasions,” Arnold said. “Speaking of annoying, Murali [Muttiah Muralitharan] was most definitely one. He was called MM (Motormouth). At times, when a batsman returned after getting dismissed, he would go and chide him for playing a particular shot. If a batsman were padded up to bat next, he would go up to him and advise him not to play the same shot [and get out] (laughs).”

Muralitharan, who left the highest level after the 2011 World Cup, finishing with 1,347 international wickets, was teammates with Arnold during the all-rounder’s Sri Lanka career from 1997 to 2007. Together, they featured in two World Cups – 2003 and 2007 – playing 144 ODIs and 37 Tests together.

Arnold, now a commentator, said that, despite Muralitharan’s “annoying” chatter, he was a splendid influence on the Lankan team of the 90s and 2000s.

“He had a top-class influence with his performances,” Arnold said. “Apart from that, he is a superb human being with a beautiful heart. Murali might say something in the heat of the moment, but within five minutes he would realise that he had been in the wrong. If you are looking for a friend in times of distress, look no further than Muralitharan. He’s a top-class man.”

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