Free Press Journal

Cricket’s Lost Talents! Murali Kartik: Domestic giant who couldn’t spin his way to success at international level


What is the difference between domestic cricket and international cricket? The difference is not that much, but that of class and perception. There is an old saying that if you want to progress to international cricket then you have to crack domestic cricket and become a successful performer. Indian team is filled with stories of players doing the hard yards in domestic cricket but struggling in international cricket due to a variety of reasons and one such cricketer was Murali Kartik.

Murali Kartik made his debut for India in Test cricket in 2000 against South Africa at Mumbai and plenty of great things were expected from this slow left-arm bowler. The misfortune for Kartik since his debut was that he was in the same team as Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh, so his chances were restricted and was one of the primary reasons for him playing so little. Kartik was a traditional left-arm spinner and relied on flight and accuracy and was also a handy batsman down the order.

From the Vault: Kartik bamboozling Australia, Mumbai, 2007

In any discipline of sports, you need the support and backing of captain, but to Kartik’s great disappointment then India captain Sourav Ganguly had little faith in Kartik and was more reliant on Harbhajan and Kumble. Another hurdle for this spinner was when India travelled abroad, the team only played with one front line spinner and Kartik was not the first choice. They say disappointments make you work hard on your game and Kartik did exactly that and became a workhorse in domestic cricket both in India and overseas (English County cricket).

Even in his short career in the blue jersey, Kartik had some outstanding moments in both ODI and Test cricket against Australia. Kartik picked up figures of 4/44 and 3/32 in a low-scoring win over Australia in 2004 at Mumbai. This performance earned him the man of the match award and looked like his career would finally take off.

But, when destiny is not with you then you can’t do much and Kartik played sporadically after that and was only in the reckoning if lead spinners were injured or unavailable. This unfair treatment of Kartik continued under various selection panels and management, and he played his last match for India in 2007 at the age of 31.

Kartik also had limited chances in ODI cricket and had one standout performance against his favourite opposition i.e. Australia at his favourite ground i.e. Mumbai and picked up 6/27. Overall, Kartik played 203 first-class matches and picked up 644 wickets at an average of 26.70. At least from the outside, it looked like that he was appreciated much more abroad than in India. Cricket is a game which is ruthless and Kartik despite ticking most boxes never took centrestage. His career remained unfulfilled and now when he looks back at his career, there could be a tinge of sadness and regret.