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MUTTIAH MURALITHARAN TO RETIRE FROM TEST CRICKET

By NBF News

Muralitharan is a superstar in his home country of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka spinner Muttiah Muralitharan will retire from Test cricket after the first Test of the home series against India in Galle starting on 18 July.

News of the 38-year-old's retirement was made public an hour after the BBC Sinhala Service revealed his plans.

Muralitharan, an off-spin bowler with a unique action, has a world record 792 wickets from 132 Test appearances.

He is expected to continue to play in some limited-overs internationals, including next year's World Cup.

Nishantha Ranathunga, Sri Lanka Cricket secretary, said: “Murali informed us about few weeks ago that he wanted to retire from Test cricket as he is getting tired and due to some other reasons.

“He first discussed his decision with the selectors and then informed us of his his decision. I believe he will continue to play ODIs and Twenty20 games.”

SLC said it would hold an official press conference to reveal more details “in due course”.

Muralitharan is the greatest bowler Sri Lanka has ever produced, and one of the finest players to grace the game.

In addition to his feats in the Test arena, he has also played 337 one-day internationals, taking 515 wickets.

He has courted controversy in the past with some umpires, as well as former international players, questioning the legality of his bent-arm bowling action.

The International Cricket Council has looked into the mechanics of how he bowls, but has cleared him from wrongdoing.

Former Australian prime minister John Howard once called Muralitharan a “chucker”. He later apologised.

Last year, Muralitharan said he intended to focus on playing one-day cricket until the 2011 World Cup, and would thereafter concentrate exclusively on Twenty20 cricket.

Injuries and age have been creeping up on Muralitharan, who has not been able to produce the match-winning performances that were once routine.

The BBC understands he feels the time is right for him to end his Test career, at least at international level, feeling his body cannot stand up to the demands of five-day cricket.

Unlike batsman Sanath Jayasuriya, still playing at 41, Muralitharan does not want to force the selectors to drop him, preferring to bow out under his own terms.

It remains unclear whether he intends to continue playing domestic Twenty20 cricket, which includes an agreement to turn out for Chennai Super Kings in the lucrative Indian Premier League.

A brilliantly economical spell of 1-17 in his four overs helped Chennai win this year's IPL final against Mumbai.