Australian legend Shane Warne insists Sri Lanka spinner Muttiah Muralitharan’s record total of 800 Test wickets will never be beaten.
Muralitharan reached the astonishing haul with his final ball in Test cricket when he dismissed Pragyan Ojha to bring India’s second innings to an end in the first Test at Galle on Thursday.
The 38-year-old had announced before the start of the series that he would retire from the Test cricket after the Galle clash, setting up the prospect of a final bid to the become the first man to reach the 800 landmark.
He went into the Test needing eight wickets and completed the task in dramatic fashion, much to the delight of retired leg-spinner Warne.
The 40-year-old is second to Muralitharan in the all-time list on 708 wickets after the Sri Lankan passed Warne’s mark in December 2007.
“I don’t think anyone will get there, so well done to Murali for getting his 800,” Warne, commentating on the second Pakistan-Australia Test at Headingley, told Sky Sports.
“The way he’s gone about it has been amazing. There’s been a lot of controversy about his action but at the end of the day the ICC (International Cricket Council) cleared him, he’s allowed to play, and what he did with the ball was amazing.
“To face it was quite difficult, especially in those spinning conditions in Sri Lanka.”
Warne and Muralitharan were the best spinners in the world over the last two decades and the Australian admits he relished the battle to be top dog.
“We always kept an eye on each other,” Warne added. “There was a lot to like about Murali, he always had a smile on his face and he always seemed to be enjoying his cricket.
“I admired him from a distance and when we played against each other we always tried to outdo each other.
“It was more about Australia and Sri Lanka but it was good fun the little battle within the big battle.”
Pakistan coach Waqar Younis, who played against Muralitharan, told reporters at Headingley: “You dream of getting 800 wickets in first-class cricket and he’s done it in Tests.
“He’s a legend and a magician. What he’s done with a cricket ball in the last two decades is just outstanding.”
And current Australia all-rounder Shane Watson, who took a Test-best six for 33 against Pakistan on Thursday, added: “I just can’t see anyone ever beating that. I can never envisage anyone getting that again, it’s a phenomenal achievement.”