Off-spinning wizard Muttiah Muralitharan said pitches were increasingly made to favour batsmen these days because the sponsors and the television channels desired so.
"They do not want a Test match to end in three or four days. The sponsors and the broadcasters want the Test to continue till the final session of the fifth day. The pitches are prepared keeping this in mind. The bowlers are suffering," he said here ahead of the first Test.
The Sri Lankan added, "You hardly see a green-top or a pitch that offers the spinners a lot of assistance now. Even in the 90s, you came across plenty of such wickets. But these tracks have disappeared now. Now everybody gets runs, from the specialists to the tailenders.This is the era of the flat tracks."
The bowlers have always suffered, he pointed out. "This is a batsman's game. Everything, from the rules to the conditions, favour the batsmen. For instance why should the bowler always have a minimum of four fielders on the off-side? Is there any such restriction on the batsman? And why is a paceman not allowed to bowl more than one bouncer in an over in an ODI."
The highest wicket-taker in Test and ODIs said, "You see, bowling is considered a labour class job. Batting has always been viewed as officer class. Even the crowds come to watch sixes and fours. Spectators do not come to see a bowler get wickets. This game is like that."
Muralitharan was all for the umpire referral system - it was shelved for the upcoming series here due to a variety of reasons - in all forms of the game. "We were to be allowed only two unsuccessful appeals. That was all. I just cannot understand why some are saying that the referrals slow down the game. I think more time is consumed when the substitutes run in with refreshments during unscheduled breaks. You were only going to get more decisions right. One right decision or one wrong one could mean the difference between a victory and a defeat. If you have technology, why don't you use it?"
Then he reminds you again, "Cricket is a batsman's game, you see."