From Greg Moylan this morning I have an enquiry which I have to confess has put me on my mettle. It arises out of a discussion between Greg and some friends in the Gym Sportsbar in Phnom Penh:
I hope you can help me to resolve a matter which has been the source of some discussion and dispute at the sports bar in Phnom Penh from where I am writing. The discussion at the sports bar is as to whether Muttiah Muralitharan is, or is not, a chucker.I've written back to Greg saying I don't have a ready answer to his question. I will need to do some research on it.
The majority view (three out of four) is that he is a chucker. The arguments we have advanced are that three separate umpires have called him for chucking and that among those who share that view are Nasser Hussain, Adam Gilchrist, Richie Benaud and Australian Prime Minister and cricket tragic John Howard. We were even able to produce evidence that the former Opposition Leader and handy batsman in his teen years, Mark Latham, shares the Prime Minister's view; the only instance that I am aware of where Mark Latham agreed with John Howard on anything. We thought that given our friend's hatred of all things Howard and enthusiastic support for Mark Latham at the last Australian general election this would be a killer argument, but not so. Our friend Daniel, who thinks we are being racist for our opinions, on the basis that those opinions are not shared on the Indian sub-continent, and who says that Murali has been cleared of chucking by tests done at the Western Australian Institute of Sport (by a mate of Murali's, it turns out), has revealed himself to be a Trotskyist and says that he will only accept that Murali is a chucker on the say-so of Marx and Trotsky.
While I appreciate that Karl Marx did not devote a great deal of attention to cricket [Eh? - Ed.], and that Trotsky, being a Russian, probably had no great interest in the game, I was wondering if, from your scholarship as a Marxist historian, you can give us some guidance on what the views of Marx and Trotsky would have been had they been called on to adjudicate on whether Murali's bowling action conforms with the rules of cricket. (I note that CLR James met Trotsky in Mexico City in 1939 and have wondered if, in his writings, he mentions whether the topic of corrrect bowling action came up in their discussions and, if so, what views, if any, Trotsky expressed. Sadly, however, books on cricket are hard to come by in Phnom Penh so I haven't been able to follow up on that.)
I look forward to your reply and even if you are unable to find anything definitive in Marx's writings I would be very interested in the Marxist perspective on Murali's bowling action, especially with the Doosra, which even Shane Warne thinks is little bit suss.