What’s the story?
Sri Lankan legend Muttiah Muralitharan was appointed as mentor of Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL) franchise Thiruvallur Veerans on Thursday with the owner and former Indian cricketer VB Chandrasekar making it clear that the 45-year-old will be with the side for the entire duration of the second season of the T20 tournament.
Expressing his delight at securing the spin wizard’s services, Chandrasekar expressed his gratitude to the Sri Lankan for agreeing to be part of a regional T20 league.
"Muralitharan will be the mentor for Thiruvallur Veerans. It is something we never dreamt of, nor was it planned," he said. "He is a good team man and I am sure the Veerans players will learn a lot by being with him. Murali has a wealth of experience, having played at the highest level and coached various teams. He can pass on a lot of knowledge to the young squad,"
After narrowly missing out on progressing to the knockout stages of the TNPL in its maiden edition, Chandrasekar is hopeful that Muralitharan’s experience can rub off on the side and help them close out tight situations.
"The team required someone experienced to guide the boys and we felt Murali, with his vast knowledge of the game, could fill that role," he added.
Since retiring from international cricket as the leading wicket-taker in Test cricket with 800 scalps in 2011 – a record which he holds to this day and with no imminent danger of being broken – Muralitharan played T20 cricket in various leagues across the globe including the IPL, he played for the Royal Challengers Bangalore from 2012 to 2014.
He was appointed as the bowling coach of the Sunrisers Hyderabad side ahead of the 2015 edition and was also named as a bowling consultant for the Australian side that toured Sri Lanka in 2016.
Despite finishing level on points after the group fixtures along with eventual champions Tuti Patriots, as well as Lyca Kovai Kings and Karaikudi Kaalai, Thiruvallur missed out on the knockout stages of the tournament owing to poor run rate and it is the prime reason that the team management has decided to rope in someone like Muralitharan for the second edition of the TNPL.
With his vast experience and knowledge of the game, Muralitharan is expected to provide a great helping hand to former Indian fast bowler B Arun, who has been retained as the coach of the side which was captained by Baba Aparajith in the inaugural season.
The presence of a number of slower bowlers in the side means Muralitharan will have a key role to play for the side. Having been with Sunrisers Hyderabad for 3 seasons now, the former off-spinner has grown into his role as a bowling coach, something which has been evident from the IPL side’s impressive bowling unit over the past few seasons.
The inaugural edition of the TNPL proved to be a huge success with people turning out in huge numbers to witness the matches which were played at three venues across Tamil Nadu, including the historic MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai.
The presence of Muralitharan will add to the overseas flavour in the league which counted upon legends such as Lance Klusener and Michael Bevan – the latter albeit for a brief amount of time – amongst the support staff for the various franchises.
The Veerans are expected to start their preparations for the second edition with training at the VB Nest in Kelambakkam soon.
With his work behind the scenes at Sunrisers Hyderabad, Muralitharan has made a successful transition from being an accomplished cricketer to a bowling coach who knows exactly what’s expected of him from his role.
The Veerans will no doubt benefit from having someone of his calibre to talk to and the youngsters in the side, especially the spinners, will be keen to learn a few tricks and ultimately help the side improve on their sixth-place showing in the first edition of the TNPL.Published 25 May 2017, 20:54 IST