Cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan became a hot trend on Twitter yesterday, becoming the first Sri Lankan to top the global social networking site of over 190 million users. The website was used by average fans as well as players like Shane Warne to ‘tweet’ messages like “Congrats to murali on his 800th wicket and a wonderful career !!! Well done buddy awesome…” (@warne888).
Murali’s dramatic performance in his last test match sparked the Internet trend. The spin wizard made history by ending his test cricket career with a round 800 wickets, the most ever taken. This was all the more exciting because Murali declared his retirement before the game and had to get a challenging 8 wickets to make the milestone. With millions watching, including Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa in the stands, Murali dramatically took his 800th wicket, dismissing Indian batsman Pragyan Ojha. His teammates hoisted him on their shoulders as they exited the stadium to thunderous applause.
This sparked excitement on the field, in the stands, and across the global Internet via Twitter. Sri Lankan ‘tweeps’ like @Laktek, @Nazly and thousands more began cheering Murali from their mobile phones and computers. This groundswell of activity made the keyword ‘Murali’ a trending topic on Twitter, a measure of the most popular conversations on this site. This territory is usually reserved for hit movies or pop stars like Justin Bieber. Murali was the first Sri Lankan since Prabhakaran to generate such traffic, and the first to do so in an entirely positive context.
Sri Lankan tweeps were joined by their counterparts in India, Australia and England – cricket playing countries. From South Africa, cricketer Graeme Smith tweeted “Murali 800 test wickets!!!!brilliant.great test career and a really good man.glad I don’t need to face him in test cricket again:)”. Fans and detractors from all over the world offered their two cents in 140 characters or less. You can read some of their comments online as the trend continues.