Some will say Murali is somewhat Indian anyway (his wife is Indian, he has family in TN). We all know Murali is a very loyal and patriotic Sri Lankan, and he wouldn’t have it any other way. But consider this scenario for a moment – what if he was playing for India?
India would surely have won a lot more Tests and ODIs in the last 15 odd years. Look at this incredible stat – Sri Lanka have won 61 Tests since inception (trending word these days), and Murali has featured in a staggering 54 of them. Simply put, Sri Lanka don’t know how to win Tests without Murali in the side. Arguably, India had the better bowling attack for much of Murali’s career – Kumble, Srinath, Prasad, Zaheer definitely stack up better than Vaas and assorted others. Thus, Murali could have won more games for India than he did for Sri Lanka. Of course, he may not have got to 800 wickets because the afore-mentioned Indian bowlers would have shared the spoils.But imagine Kumble and Murali bowling for the same team – devastating.
Cricket-wise, one can safely say that Murali would not have gone through half the anguish regarding the chucking controversy if he was Indian. The BCCI is so much more powerful than the SL cricket board, and there would have been no need for a Ranatunga to stand up for Murali. I cannot see any international umpire calling an Indian bowler.
It would have been financially much more rewarding as well. It is a good time to be a cricketer in India these days, with Ranji cricketers make close to Rs. 3 Lakhs a game (~6500 $). Murali would have been on a Grade A contract (60 Lakhs a year – 130,000 USD, plus match fees). However, the big difference would have been in terms of endorsements. Conservatively, he could have been earning Rs. 2 crores (~ 425000 $) a year for the last few years. Not to mention the wall-to-wall media adulation and demi-god status that a billion people would have bestowed upon him. The icing on the cake would have been a fatter IPL contract. If Murali was indeed Indian, it is highly likely that he would have been an icon player for the Chennai Super Kings, thereby earning upwards of 1.2 million $ (double of what he gets currently). All told, back-of-envelope, he could have earned close to Rs. 5 crores (~ 1.1 million $) more per year in India.
What a difference the Palk Strait makes.