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New Zealand unmoved by run out furore

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand – The New Zealand cricket team Monday remained firm in the face of international criticism over the runout of Muttiah Muralitharan which controversially ended its first test match against Sri Lanka.

The furore started Saturday when wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum took off the bails to dismiss Muralitharan as he left his crease to congratulate his batting partner Kumar Sangakkara on a century.

The ball was still alive, between the fieldsman and the wicketkeeper, when Muralitharan turned after completing a single and set off down the pitch to shake Sangakkara’s hand. South African umpire Brian Jerling upheld New Zealand’s appeal for the dismissal, which cost Sri Lanka its last second-innings wicket, and allowed New Zealand to win the match by five wickets.

Relations between the New Zealand and Sri Lankan teams have been soured by the incident and Sri Lanka has won international support for its claim that New Zealand’s action was outside the spirit of cricket.

New Zealand has staunchly defended itself, saying the runout was within the rules of the sport and insisting Muralitharan was in error for leaving his crease while the ball was alive.

McCullum maintained that stance Monday but admitted surprise at the level of criticism New Zealand has received over the incident.

"I didn’t expect the repercussions from it, it’s been pretty hard to swallow," he said. "I’m a proud New Zealander, playing for my country. I’ve done nothing wrong.

"I never thought it the wrong thing to do. The rules are there and you can’t reward stupidity."

New Zealand Cricket has supported its team, citing the letter of the law.

"The umpires take the same view as us," chief executive Martin Snedden said. "It was a lapse of concentration on Murali’s part. It wasn’t a marginal situation and it was out."

Veteran batsman Nathan Astle also supported McCullum who has borne the brunt of criticism over the past two days.

"We’re fully behind Baz (McCullum)," he said. Muralitharan "was definitely out. I’ve been surprised by the reaction. It’s totally unjustified."

However, Saturday was no laughing matter and Sangakkara, while acknowledging an apologetic Murali was at fault, was still disappointed at the Black Caps reaction.

Sangakkara expressed his further disappointment Monday at an incident which is likely to influence the mood of the teams in the second test which starts at Wellington on Monday.

"Players take it for granted, once the ball’s gone you’re allowed a certain leeway when it comes to courtesies extended between sides," he said.

"Murali was out but it’s a case of how you want to interpret the rules. A lot is said about match referees and umpires being the guardians of the game but the players have a lot of responsibility as well.

"I think there’s a huge responsibility on players when it comes to sledging and upholding the spirit of the game, though how you do that is up to you." – The Island


December 12, 2006 - Posted by | South Asia, Sports, Sports News & Opinion, World News

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