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CRICKET: Marathon man; Murali told to shoulder burden of Sri Lankan Test threat.

Byline: RICHARD GIBSON

SRI LANKA coach John Dyson insists there are no concerns over Muttiah Muralitharan's heavy workload during the three-Test series with England.

Muralitharan, whose marathon effort in the tense draw in Galle read 68.4-33-93-11,did not bowl in the final preparation sessions for this week's Test in his home town of Kandy.

Instead,he spent yesterday morning with his right shoulder bearing an ice pack.

With 15 days of Test cricket scheduled out of 21 on this tour, the fact that the Sri Lankan star turn sends down more than a third of his team's overs could increase the strain on his joints.

Prior to this series,England made Murali wait 17 overs for each of his wickets in the previous five Tests although injuries -including a dislocated left shoulder during the 2002 summer -also exacerbated that statistic.

But Dyson believes he has the stamina to cope with the burden of being his country's primary threat with the ball during the remaininder of the series,even if it means him sending down 200 overs in the process.

``It is always a worry when someone bowls that much,'' saidDyson.

``That is why we are not too bothered about him bowling at practice.

``Australia rest players from matches because of the demand on their bodies and you have to be aware of the fitness levels of all your players.

``There is no problem with him. ``He might have had an ice pack on his shoulder but he puts ice in his drinks as well.

``It is a standard procedure for anyone. Bowlers these days come off the field and go straight into an ice bath.

``Our entire squad is very fit so it does not worry us that we have got three weeks' worth of cricket. ``We don't mind playing five days in every Test.We'll preferably do it in 40 to 45 degree heat and with plenty of humidity.''

The legality of Murali's action in delivering during his newlydeveloped, excessively-turning wrong `un has been questioned in some quarters.

But he has previously been cleared by the International Cricket Council. And former Australian Test player Dyson insisted: ``It's clutching at straws.

``He has been scrutinised by the experts and they have cleared his action. What more do they want?''
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Dec 10, 2003
Words:380
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