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Cricket-Murali 'may skip Australian cricket tour'

06-11-2004 , 11:31© 2004 AFP

Sena Vidanagama - (AFP/File)

- Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan is likely to boycott next month's tour of Australia in protest against Prime Minister John Howard's remarks that he was a "chucker", cricket sources said.

Muralitharan, with a record 527 Test wickets to his credit, is expected to formally inform Sri Lanka Cricket about his stance at the weekend, the sources said, adding indications were that he would opt out of the tour.

"The chances are that he is most likely to stay away (from the tour)," one source said on Friday.

The ace off-spinner was not immediately available for comment.

Sri Lanka are scheduled to play two Tests in Australia in July.

Sri Lanka Cricket president Mohan de Silva said this week the cricket authority was encouraging Muralitharan to go to Australia.

De Silva said it would advise Muralitharan not to bowl his controversial "doosra" in Australia as he ran the risk of being called for "throwing".

Sri Lanka has urged the International Cricket Council to change the rules in order to end the row over the bowler's "doosra", a delivery which spins away from right-handers instead of coming into them like a normal off-break.

Muralitharan said in a statement last week that he had been defamed, pilloried and severely criticised by the world's cricket media.

"Even the prime minister of Australia has called me a chucker and then in the next sentence says I will be welcome to tour his country," he said.

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