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Words can’t hurt me anymore, says Murali

56604212.jpgMUTTIAH Muralitharan believes his brush with the devastating Boxing Day tsunami has imbued him with a sense of focus and purpose that no level of Australian crowd jeering will disrupt.

Muralitharan had left the coastal city of Galle barely 20 minutes before the deadly wave struck in 2004. Over the ensuing years, the Sri Lankan spinner has used his star power in his homeland to attract money for the construction of 1000 homes in tsunami-affected areas, securing him a place in the hearts of his countrymen that wickets alone could never have achieved.

The experience, Muralitharan says, reinforced his priorities in life. And on the eve of his first Test tour of Australia in 12 years, Muralitharan is adamant his quest for 1000 Test wickets will not be affected by the taunts and boos of Australian spectators.

“You never know what is the next thing that will happen in life,” Muralitharan said. “In 20 minutes, anything could have happened, we could have been injured or taken back to the sea. So that’s the luck. Life goes on. Someday you might not wake up. That’s the way it is. So you keep on doing what you love.

“I am not too worried about the crowds. It will be the same as before. [Former Sri Lankan coach] Tom [Moody] told me that they only do it to try and distract you. It’s almost 13 years since I played a Test series in Australia, so I am looking forward to the challenge.”

Muralitharan is set to arrive in Australia today with 700 Test wickets to his name, just eight fewer than world-record holder Shane Warne. The Sri Lankan spinner would love nothing more than to claim the Australian’s record on this most hostile of soils, but is under no illusions as to the difficulty of the task, irrespective of the changes to the Australian batting line-up in the wake of the retirements of Justin Langer and Damien Martyn.

“They’ve got another 10 people lining up to take the spots of Langer and Martyn,” Muralitharan said. “They’ve still got the best batsman in the world in Ricky Ponting, and they’ve got [Matthew] Hayden and [Michael] Clarke. The batting line-up appears very strong.

“Still, Australia is the toughest team to beat. They are a very good side, and they are No.1 in the world. Their playing style won’t change, the attitude won’t change. Everything will be the same. You never know if I’ll make [Warne’s record] or not. Eight wickets are a lot of wickets in two Test matches.”

Meanwhile, Muralitharan said the Sri Lankans bore no ill-will towards the Australians over the farcical World Cup final earlier this year. The Sri Lankans were forced to bat in near darkness towards the end of their innings, eliminating whatever faint hope they had of claiming victory.

“We can’t complain, because it’s gone. They are the champions. I don’t bother about complaining, because we had a good World Cup. We were the second best team. I will endorse that, because we played much better than the others. And Australia played better than everyone. We had a chance in the final, but Gilly took it away from us.”

 Kingston: Canadian pathologist Michael Pollanen told the inquest into the death of Bob Woolmer that he couldn’t determine the cause of death of the Pakistan cricket coach who died during the World Cup in March.

Pollanen testified that Woolmer wasn’t strangled, as police initially suggested.

“If the hyoid bone [in the neck] was broken, it would be a good evidence of injury to the neck,” he said. “It was not broken in this case.”

Jamaican Government pathologist Ere Sheshiah had said Woolmer died of manual strangulation – a conclusion that rocked the cricket world as Jamaican authorities said they were treating his death as murder.

The former 58-year-old former England international was found unconscious in his room at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel on March 18, a day after Pakistan made a shock exit from the cricket World Cup, losing to minnows Ireland.

With wires

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