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Sunil Gavaskar apologises after saying ‘the Indian spinners and Muttiah Muralitharan were better than Shane Warne’

Sunil Gavaskar Apologises After Saying 'The Indian spinners And Muttiah Muralitharan Were Better Than Shane Warne'
by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Sunil Gavaskar has apologised for saying that, in his opinion, “the Indian spinners and Muttiah Muralitharan are better than Shane Warne”, while paying tribute to the great Australia leg-spinner, who died aged 52 on Friday, March 4.

Warne’s death sent the cricket world into shock and mourning, with tributes pouring in for a player many consider to be among the greatest to have ever played the game. Warne was named one of the Wisden Almanack’s Five Cricketers of the 20th Century, and was the only active player to receive the accolade. He ended his career with seven Ashes triumphs and a Cricket World Cup win to his name. Only Sri Lanka’s Muralitharan has taken more Test wickets, 800 to Warne’s tally of 708.

However, Gavaskar, speaking to India Today, suggested that not just Murali, but several unnamed India spinners were above Warne in the pantheon. “No, I wouldn’t say that [Warne was the greatest]. For me the Indian spinners and Muttiah Muralitharan were better than Shane Warne,” he said.

Gavaskar’s reasoning was based on Warne’s lack of success against India, with the leggie averaging 47.18 against them from 14 Tests. Against every other opposition, Warne averaged less than 30.

For comparison, Muralitharan averaged 32.61 against India, with his worst record coming against Australia, taking his wickets at 36.06 apiece against the one team Warne didn’t have to bowl against.

“Look at Shane Warne’s record against India,” Gavaskar said. “It was pretty ordinary. In India, he got five wickets only once in Nagpur, and that too because Zaheer Khan swung wildly against him to give him a five-for. Because he did not have much success against Indian players who were very good players of spin, I don’t think I would call him the greatest. Muttiah Muralitharan with a greater success he had against India, I would rank him over Warne in my book.”

Gavaskar did not discuss which Indian spinners he felt were better than Warne.

There was outcry over Gavaskar’s comments, with several outlets publishing articles collating criticism of one of India’s greatest batters. Gavaskar has since posted a video on Instagram apologising for the timing, though not the content, of what he said.

“Last week was a very traumatic time for the cricketing fraternity, as in the space of 24 hours, we lost two of the most iconic cricketers that the game has seen: Rodney Marsh and Shane Warne,” Gavaskar said. “On TV I was asked by an anchor whether Warne was the greatest spinner ever, and I gave my honest, personal opinion. In hindsight, that question shouldn’t have been asked, nor should it have been answered, because that was not the time for any comparison or critical evaluation. Warne was one of the greatest cricketers to have ever graced the game. Rodney Marsh too was one of the greatest wicketkeepers that the game has seen. May their souls rest in eternal peace.”

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