Cheating is one of the worst things a player or team can do in the sporting world.
Two of the five cricketers of the 20th century, plus Test cricket’s leading wicket-taker. That’s quite a hat-trick.
Shane Warne took centre stage at Melbourne’s Crown Casino at a Cricket Victoria luncheon on Thursday, on the eve of the opening BBL Twenty20 clash between the Warne-led Melbourne Stars and the Melbourne Renegades at Etihad Stadium.
To his right sat Renegades’ recruit and Sri Lankan spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan.
On his left was former West Indies captain Viv Richards, named alongside Warne in Wisden magazine’s five cricketers of the 20th century.
Murali described Viv as his childhood hero while Warne said Viv was “the man”.
“Just outside of Don Bradman … but as far as cricketers go and batsman, Viv was the greatest for me,” Warne said.
Viv told the 700 guests that he regarded Warne as the king. Viv has been engaged by the Stars as a team mentor this summer.
Viv’s 8540 runs at 50.23 in 121 Tests don’t get him in the top 17 of Test run-scorers on the current list – although, as Warne said of the 60-year-old Richards, people remember the style of play rather than the numbers.
And besides, bats back then were toothpicks compared to the modern clubs available.
Viv, however, is disappointed his two years with World Series Cricket (WSC) in the late 1970s weren’t classified as official Tests.
The TV mini-series “Howzat” about WSC has been re-run this week on the Nine Network.
“I’m a little bit pissed off really with the people who organise the stats,” Richards said.
“That was some of the hardest cricket ever played and, when you have a boss like Kerry Packer, he’s a seriously tough nut.”
Warne backed Viv, saying not including the WSC stats was a joke.
“It was the best cricket that was ever played,” Warne said.
Murali spoke of his love for Australia, despite being called for chucking.
“I had kind of bad memories in 1995 but I’ve put all that back (to the back of my mind),” Murali said.
“I’ve loved Australia always because it’s a sporting country.
“I have played all over the world in Twenty20 competitions. I thought come and play in Melbourne, especially because of the big Sri Lankan community.
“I love cricket. I want to be involved.
“Without cricket, there is nothing.”
Murali said it would have been very difficult to bowl to Viv at his peak.
“On my day, I would get him out!,” Murali said.
While 43-year-old Warne and 40-year-old Murali are confident of having success in the BBL, Warne joked his bowling was mainly bluff.
“I only bowl the straight one really these days,” he said.