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Muralitharan to help coach Australian team ahead of Pakistan test series

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MELBOURNE, Australia - Former Sri Lanka spin great Muttiah Muralitharan has gone from longtime adversary of Australia to a coach of its national team.

Cricket Australia said Wednesday that Muralitharan, who finished with a record 800 test wickets, would help prepare Australia's batsmen for a two-test series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates in October and early November.

One of his tasks will be to familiarize Australians with the 'doosra' delivery, which has baffled them in the past and is part of the armoury of Pakistan's Saeed Ajmal.

"Ajmal bowls a little bit similar to me so perhaps if I can bowl to the Australian batsman it might help a little bit and give them some tips." Muralitharan said in a statement.

Muralitharan, who made his test debut against Australia in 1992, has had a checkered history in Australia because of a suspect bowling action caused by a mild arm deformity.

His seemingly bent arm and a strong wrist rotation caught the eye of Australian umpire Darrell Hair, who called the Sri Lanka spinner for "chucking" — or bowling with an illegal action — during a test match at Melbourne in 1995.

A scientific analysis ordered by the International Cricket Council determined that his bent arm caused an optical illusion of throwing and he was cleared to continue bowling in international cricket.

But Muralitharan was called for throwing again by Australian umpire Ross Emerson in 1999, prompting then Sri Lanka captain Arjuna Ranatunga to threaten to take his team off the field in protest. In another case, Muralitharan's revolutionary 'doosra' — an offspinner's delivery that spins away rather than into right-handed batsmen — was reported to be suspicious.

But extensive tests with Australian biomechanical experts, and the ICC's decision to revise rules on how much a bowler can bend his arm, cleared Muralitharan's action.

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