Emerson reflects on Murali controversy

718f48793d9b1cf750b533306f1d266aSeventeen years ago to the day, standing at square leg during the 1999 one-day series between Sri Lanka and England at the Adelaide Oval, umpire Ross Emerson no-balled Muttiah Muralidaran for chucking.

There had been an ominous air of expectation as Murali took the ball in the 18th over — Emerson had called him before during the 1995-96 tour. Channel’s Nine’s Tony Greig set the mood: “Right, well this is the moment everyone’s been a little bit nervous about, we’ve got Muralidaran about to be introduced into the attack. These two umpires when they were together both no-balled him for throwing, umpire Emerson, he started it last time.”

It only took four balls. What followed was a remarkable scene, as both Sri Lanka captain Arjuna Ranatunga and Emerson set their fingers to point and very publicly went at it. Ranatunga then marched his players from the field.

Ultimately the heated exchange and the controversy that followed was the end of Emerson’s career, but ask him 17 years later whether he’d do it again and he has no hesitation.

“Do I regret calling Murali, no,” he told The Weekend Australian. “I regret what happened to me, but I don’t regret calling him.

“Why not (call him) for chucking, it’s one part of 42 laws. What if I don’t like the lbw, do I not apply that? The one thing that did piss me off though was that every umpire in the world, certainly in Australia, thought that he chucked, but it was only Darrell (Hair) and me that had the guts to do it — or the integrity.”

But while Emerson stands by the Muralitharan decision he doesn’t by another.

Midway through the 303-run chase England appealed for a run-out against Mahela Jayawardene.

“I made a mistake, I didn’t call for the replay with Jayawardene when he was run out for not many and he went on to score a hundred (120),” Emerson said.

“Sri Lanka won the game, but I reckon that evened out because McQuillan didn’t give (Graeme) Hick (126) out caught behind when he wasn’t very many and he scored 100 as well.”

Emerson maintains it was a “travesty of justice” England — who were his only supporters on the day — didn’t win the match.

“All the Pommies were running past me in the field tapping me on the back and saying, ‘Stick with it, you’re doing a good job.

“Alec Stewart, who I knew pretty well because he played a fair bit of club cricket in Perth, he put his arm around me after the Jayawardene decision and said, ‘It’s bloody lonely out here by yourself, isn’t it’ — and it was, it was terrible.

“And then I got sacked in the taxi on the way to the airport. I was due to do the next two games in Perth, both Sri Lanka games, and I got the phone call from Malcolm Speed.

“I umpired the first game of the next Shield season and then got told I lost form and wouldn’t be considered for the rest of the year.”

After 10 one-day internationals and 51 first-class games Emerson’s cricket career was over.

Emerson said he always knew he was up against it given the politics of the International Cricket Board at the time. “It was country v country. As my colleague said to me, ‘He throws, but you won’t get much support around the place’.”

“Because the countries are divided, the ICC used to always vote 7-3 because India and Pakistan want to throw nuclear bombs on each other in real life but in cricket they’ll vote together, Sri Lanka will vote with Pakistan and India, and Bangladesh they brought in — so that’s four out of the 10 straight off.

“South Africa and Zimbabwe are so racist they’ll only vote for the black countries, the West Indies are probably the most racist side in the world, so they’ll always vote with the black countries unless it’s a tour of England or Australia where they make their money and that leaves Australia, England and New Zealand.

“Now the ICC has started clamping down on chucking, why? Murali’s not playing any more — that’s why,” he said.

“They needed Murali to play for Sri Lanka because he was what kept them competitive. Now that he’s gone and Chaminda Vaas is gone — he was a great bowler — they’re a rabble again.” (Courtesy The Australian)


  1. Earlier, Ross Emerson said Cricket Australia asked him to call Murali “No ball” and this became poison to Cricket Australia, and he was punished for revealing internal confidential information. Probably Australia wanted to promote Shane warne as the best bowler, but it back-fired.
    Ross Emerson was on sick leave from his work on the day he called Murali ‘no ball’, and he was in big trouble when this was revealed; which was cheating to Australian Government.

  2. Murali was no-balled while he was bowling leg breaks. You cannot throw a leg break. It is impossible. That is why Emerson was fired. His comments about blacks here are quite inflammatory and I now tend to think that he is a racist himself and his actions were driven by such prejudices rather than any kind of integrity that he talks about.

  3. So Sri Lanka is a “rabble”. That is, unfortunately the way these white people look at the darkies. That is the truth. Unfortunate. But true.

  4. Ross Emerson, it was Australia that tested his bowling action and cleared him that the action is legal, not a so called black country.

  5. Black white green blue red…….all human afterall …all make mistakes…..when money talks nobody checks grammar…..that how they play the game ….

    Man will always be a Man …..”weak”

  6. The Murali affair was an organised and orchestrated move by the Aussie Press to discredit him and knock his confidence as he was perceived as live threat and not many batsmen were able to read him. The fact that he had a deformity at birth which enabled him to rotate his wrists almost 360 degrees was ignored and tests conducted proved that he was within the limits.
    Also as he was a spinner, there were no threats of physical injury to the batsmen if he was chucking. The sporting world accepted him and he excelled in his career unlike those umpires who only had orders to fulfill.

  7. He fails to stay Murali has undergone hundreds of tests infront of international specialists and some of the tests conducted in Australia. So many reputed Australian players and commentators have found actually Murali is not chucking and it’s just a optical illusion.

  8. Forget Emerson. He’s a Nutter.
    Hair or ,no Hair Murali’s Balls were fair. After testing they found most bowlers were throwing due to flex including McGrath. Murali had a bent arm to start with.

  9. Ross Emerson is now talking from both ends. look like Cricket Australia used Ross to do their dirty work when it revealed CA cut him loose. When SL team started the tour in Australia the stage was set to eliminate Murali but Ross has overdone it. He should be working that day rather than on stress leave, may he enjoys cricket so much he get a stress relief therphy by bullying a black guy? interesting.

  10. If Ross Emerson was capable of blatantly lying to his employer, saying he is sick while officiating at a cricket match for extra cash what credibility has he got? A cheat is a cheat no matter which country he comes from. He got what he deserved being kicked out from umpiring. Victor was the sport.

  11. Ross Emerson has no place in cricket. He was fired because he no-balled Murali when he bowled leg breaks. By saying all these racial remarks about SA and WI it is clear that this guy is medieval. Obvioulsy he didn’t do it by him self all these, he was told to do so.

  12. What a pathetic exhibition of hypocrisy.Fails to even make a passing reference to the fact that Murali undertook the most rigorous of testing, not in far out Timbaktoo if that fact would lend some weight to his argument, but in Perth WA. In this world full of deceit and deception Liars and lies seem to have a longer shelf life.However the currency with which Emmerson pays for it is what little reputation he is left with.He boldly accuses all other countries of ganging up together for alleged racist causes but sees nothing the matter with Australia,England and NZ working mysteriously collaboratively to scratch each others back albeit for no reason except the most obvious.Let us hope he will be put out of his misery by one last publication of his pitiable tale.His hatred is clearly displayed by his reference to Sri Lanka cricketers as rabble.If this be the definition of rabble Emmerson obviously needs more help than is evident.It is now obvious he was set up and he went out that day to cause mischief but unfortunately met his match in Arjuna and crushed as the Rat who challenged the Elephant to battle.


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