Sri Lanka v Australia: Muttiah Muralitharan hits back at 'traitor' jibe

Muttiah Mulalitharan
Muttiah Muralitharan (right) took a world record 800 Test wickets between 1992 and 2010

Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan has defended his right to coach Australia's bowlers during a Test series between the sides after being called a traitor.

Sri Lanka Cricket president Thilanga Sumathipala also said that the spinner - who took a Test record 800 wickets - "bullied" ground staff into letting Australia practise on the Kandy pitch.

The hosts were bowled out for 117 on day one of the first Test on Tuesday.

"They have no right to accuse me of being a traitor," said Muralitharan.

"Have they done one hundredth of what I have contributed to cricket in Sri Lanka?

"This is a political game to cover their shortcomings. I am being used as a pawn to cover their failings."

Muralitharan, 44, added that Sri Lanka's cricket board had asked for his help only once since his international retirement in 2011.

Sri Lanka v Australia first Test scorecard

Australian umpires reported Muralitharan for a suspect action during his first tour to Australia in 1995 and again in 1999 - but he was cleared by the International Cricket Council after tests.

But he has since worked as a consultant for Australia's spinners and batsmen.

Sumathipala added: "Professionally it is OK for Murali to coach any foreign team, but the irony is that he is supporting Australia which tried to get him out of cricket.

"He is creating long-term damage for himself among his fans. I feel sad."

However, former Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara defended his former team-mate and said the country should be "proud" of their "great son".

"If any Sri Lankan spinner walks up to Muri and asks him about bowling he will be the first to spend as much time as needed to help," he added.

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