Speaking on Star Sports' show Cricket Live, Laxman revealed that batsmen used to fear facing Murali at his peak. He said, "I was privileged to be against all these greats of the game. Steyn, for someone who could swing the ball, not only the conventional swing but also the reverse swing, used to suffocate you and get you out. The presence of Shane Warne had on the cricket field was just unbelievable."
"But for me, it has been Muttiah Muralitharan -- the greatest of all time bowler of the 21st century -- because he is one spinner who troubled all the batsmen around the world, not only in Sri Lanka, not only in the subcontinent conditions but apart from Australia, everywhere in the world. He has been the greatest of all time.”
According to Laxman, Murali achievements were beyond numbers because of the mental impact he had on the batsmen. "It is not only about statistics, and also not just the number of wickets. He has got 800 Test wickets is a big achievement, the way he bamboozled batsmen. I could see the fear in the eyes of the batsmen when facing Muralitharan," Laxman further continued.
Former Indian batting coach Sanjay Bangar pointed out that Muralitharan didn't have great support from the other end, barring left-arm seamer Chaminda Vaas. He thus single-handedly did most of the damage for his team. Bangar explained:
"I thought Anil Kumble would feature in the list because he's somebody who's won a lot of matches for India, 619 Test wickets. And doing that without the ability of a Shane Warne or without variation and guile of somebody like a Muralitharan, it was a phenomenal achievement for Anil and for India," said Bangar.
"But I will have to give it to Muttiah Muralitharan purely for the reason that he didn't have the luxury of some pressure being applied from the other end except for somebody like Chaminda Vaas, he had to do it all alone. I think for that particular reason, for having the record alone for having shouldered the responsibility of an international attack, it has to be Muralitharan," he added.
Muralitharan claimed 800 wickets in 133 Test matches and 534 in 350 ODIs. He is the leading wicket-taker in both formats of the game.