Sat, Aug 01, 2009 - Page 18 News List

Muralitharan to quit Test cricket at end of next year

AFP , DAMBULLA, SRI LANKA

Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan bowls at a practice session ahead of the second one-day international match between Sri Lanka and Pakistan in Dambulla, Sri Lanka, yesterday.

PHOTO: AP

Sri Lanka’s world record bowler Muttiah Muralitharan said on Thursday he would quit Test cricket next year, but continue to play limited-overs cricket.

The 37-year-old off-spinner, with a record 770 Test and 507 one-day wickets, announced that he would play his last two Tests in the series against the West Indies at home in November next year.

“I am not going to play for a long time,” Muralitharan told reporters after the first one-day international against Pakistan, in which he was named man of the match after taking two wickets for 32 runs off 15 balls.

“Next year’s West Indies series will be the last two Test matches I will be playing,” Muralitharan said. “That’s the right time for me because I will be 38 years old. The 2011 World Cup is my aim, but I will enjoy playing Twenty20 cricket for a few more years.”

Muralitharan missed the recent three-Test series against Pakistan because of a knee injury.

“The hardest game in cricket is Tests,” he said. “The hardest part is you have to take wickets and get batsmen out, and sometimes you have to spend two days in the field.”

The 127-Test veteran said he had been working hard on his fitness as age caught up with him.

“I put in a lot of effort in the last one month to be fit,” he said. “I trained very hard with the physio and trainers who helped me to get through the difficult period. I also enjoyed the rest. I trained hard, although I knew my knee was not right. The doctors said that I can definitely play with the injury for about one to two years, but in the end when I finish [they] will have to operate on it.”

Muralitharan, who once said he was aiming to take 1,000 Test wickets, said the few Tests played by Sri Lanka in recent years had made it difficult for him to achieve that milestone.

“If I am to get 1,000 Test wickets we have to play Test matches regularly,” he said. “These days, we play fewer Test matches.”

Sri Lanka play two Tests against New Zealand next month and three in India at the end of the year. Next year Sri Lanka just have the two Tests against the West Indies.

Muralitharan, who made his Test debut against Australia in 1992, passed Australian Shane Warne’s record of 708 Test wickets in December 2007.

He also overtook pace man Wasim Akram’s record one-day tally of 502 wickets earlier this year.

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