A controversy monger
Retired spin great Muttiah Muralitharan on Wednesday lashed out at his long-time detractor Bishen Singh Bedi, calling the former India captain a controversy monger and ordinary bowler who would have been hammered by any batsman if he was playing now.
Bedi has been an untiring critic of Muralitharan by repeatedly calling the Sri Lankan a "chucker" and asking the ICC to ban the Sri Lankan's doosra, saying it is illegal.
Image: Muttiah Muralitharan and Bishen Singh Bedi
Bedi doesn't even come into the contest
Muralitharan, who retired last week after collecting 800 Test wickets, at Galle against India, made an uncharacteristic attack on Bedi, saying he was just an ordinary bowler.
Asked about the lack of world-class spinners in India, Muralitharan said Bedi was not in the league of B S Chandrasekhar, Srinivas Venkataraghavan and Erapalli Prasanna.
"Bedi, I don't think he even comes to a contest on that. I saw some (of his) bowling of his playing days. In modern era, if he plays he will get hammered every ball that is what will happen. So no comparison," the world's most successful spinner said.
"Prasanna is a good bowler. I have seen his bowling. Venkataraghavan is good. But Bedi does not come under it," he said.
Image: Bishen Singh Bedi
Kumble is the best spinner India has ever produced
Though without mentioning the constant criticism he got from Bedi, the affable Sri Lankan advised the former India captain to refrain from whipping up controversies.
"He (Bedi) is also a controversial person. He has lot of controversies everywhere in the world. And he should think about himself first rather than talking about other people," Muralitharan said.
Asked about Bedi's comments to ban the doosra from international cricket, Muralitharan lampooned the Indian, saying he had no variations in his bowling and was therefore critical of others.
"He (Bedi) did not have any variation. He just bowled left arm spin and pitch did the variation for him. That is what he bowled," he said.
Muralitharan said Anil Kumble is the best spinner India has produced and records speak for themselves.
"You forget the best spinner is Anil Kumble. Not Bedi or Venkataraghavan or any other. I think the best ever spinner produced (in India) is Kumble. No doubt about it and nobody can doubt it.
Statistics-wise and on the basis of other things, he is far ahead than other guys", he said.
Image: Anil Kumble
'Sachin played me better than anyone'
Muralitharan refused to draw comparison between Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara, but said on the basis of statistics, the Indian maestro is far ahead of any batsman.
"Sachin and Lara have been the most consistent batsmen in the world (to face my bowling). I admire them. I have most regard for those two guys and now place Ricky Ponting also in that list.
"I don't know who plays me the better. They are different individuals. Statistics-wise Sachin is heading the pack. You can say Sachin is the best on that basis.
"But you see the other two players are great players, they are also legends. I think you cannot make comparisons. They play in different conditions and situation," he said.
Image: Sachin Tendulkar
'I'm happy to retire'
Muralitharan said he has no regrets in his cricketing career though it was haunted by controversies over his bowling action.
"It (controversy) did not haunt me at all. I went through it and I have done what I wanted to do in my cricketing life. So no regrets. Nothing. I am very happy to retire (from Test cricket)," he said.
He did not agree that players are getting injured due to too mauch now that Twenty20 has become big.
"I don't think so. If a player is fit to play he should play every format. The players' careers are very short, they enjoy all form of the games. So the three forms of cricket will continue though Test is the ultimate," he said.
Image: Muttiah Muralitharan
SL too strong at the moment
Muralitharan said it would be difficult for India to come back into the three-match series against Sri Lanka as they have little chance to win the second Test.
"Sri Lanka is too strong at the moment. They are playing really well and the batsmen are getting lot of runs. It could be difficult to get a result in this match unless Sri Lanka wins. India cannot win this Test match, unless something unpredictable happens," he said.
Image: Kumar Sangakkara and Parnavitharna
Young Aussies are a good bunch
He refused to think that the era of Australian domination is over and said they are still a force to reckon with in world cricket.
"Very difficult to say Australia have declined. They may decline for about a year, six months, five months. Then they can come back. So you can't say they are a bad side. They are a very good side," he said.
"Statistically, they were performing brilliantly during the last decade. Now they missed players like Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath ... Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer to open. So the youngsters will have to come and fill the void. It took a little bit of time for them," he added.
Image: Australian team