County news January 31, 2012

Muralitharan back at Gloucestershire for T20s

ESPNcricinfo staff

Muttiah Muralitharan, the leading wicket-taker in Test and ODI cricket, will be back at Gloucestershire this year to play a part in the county's Friends Life t20 campaign. The Sri Lanka offspinner, who retired from international cricket after the 2011 World Cup final, has most recently turned out for Wellington in New Zealand's domestic Twenty20 competition, the HRV Cup.

Muralitharan was Gloucestershire's joint most-successful bowler in the Friends Provident t20 last season, with 12 wickets - though his presence was not enough to prevent the Gladiators finishing second-bottom in the South Group with four wins from 16. "I thoroughly enjoyed my first FLt20 season with Gloucestershire and I am looking forward to returning to the club," he said.

The 39-year-old took his 800th wicket with his final ball in Test cricket, in 2010. He has also taken a record 534 ODI wickets and was a part of Sri Lanka's 1996 World Cup-winning team. In Twenty20 cricket, he has claimed 122 victims at an average of 20.18 and with an economy rate of 6.37. He was part of Chennai Super Kings' successful run to the biggest prize in domestic Twenty20, the Champions League, in 2010.

"As a side we are delighted that Murali is returning," Gloucestershire's director of cricket, John Bracewell, said. "His experience was invaluable last year, given the shortness of the T20 game and the amount of rain-affected matches we had. We did not see the best of what he can offer. I know our players gained a great deal from having Murali in and around our dressing room. His enthusiasm and love for the game, combined with his exceptional skills, are something that will draw any crowd."

Muralitharan could be Gloucestershire's only overseas player in 2012. Finances are tight in Bristol after planning permission to develop Nevil Road was turned down, but the club have signed Dan Housego from Middlesex to fill the number three slot in the County Championship. Kane Williamson, the New Zealand batsman, batted at No. 3 last season, but his potential international assignments in West Indies in June-July, and Gloucestershire's tight budget, make his return to the county unlikely.

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  • Philip on February 1, 2012, 17:51 GMT

    Murali is greater charitable giver. Those who have followed his career will know how much he has contributed to improvement of cricket and most importantly the lives of the destitute, children, orphans, villages and peace initiatives. It so great to see him back in the England. The Tsunami surely took the stink and also the zeal he had for cricket which he transferred to his charitable foundations. Life is more precious than cricket, and that is how he saw things. People who follow will know where his money goes just because he does not advertise his charitable givings. His funding of under privileged children to go through medical school too is not know to many. Murali never courted publicity it was the arrogance and jealousy from certain quarters that deprived him of 4 years of misery in not being able to play. Those years would have been wonderful to SL and to his haul of wickets too. Hope he is able to help Gloucestershire this time around more. Philip Gnana, Surrey

  • Luke on February 1, 2012, 12:57 GMT

    @johnathonjosephs - you have basically backed-up my argument. Credible teams such as CSK and Kochi haven't played him in recent years, and the fact that he wasn't picked up in a high-profile tournament such as the Big Bash says it all. How on earth you think the highest wicket-taker of all-time 'isn't hyped at all', is beyopnd me. And it just undermines you whole argument, and the credibility of your position.

  • sachit on February 1, 2012, 12:45 GMT

    @chandi69 - Murali is only playing 20-20 cricket nowadays and he DID play for Kandurata in the last Inter Provincial T20 in 2011. what could he have gained from playing a low profile tournament like the Inter Provincial T20 conducted by a bankrupt cricket board? So it is unfair to say he plays for money isn't it?

  • Johnathon on February 1, 2012, 3:36 GMT

    @the wallster... You kidding me? Murali: 122 wickets from 102 matches @ economy of 6.37 Warne: 66 wickets from 66 matches @ economy of 7.15... Wickets aren't as important as economy in T20 and Murali wins on that. In fact, Murali wins on both.... Its sad though because Warne is overhyphed by his country who have a big say in International Cricket. Murali, well, poor Murali was born in Sri Lanka and isn't hyphed at all. He still has his magic, but for some strange reason, people don't look to him anymore. Sad he barely played last IPL and didn't get to play in the KFC Big Bash. I would have been very interested if he was playing in the Big Bash

  • Chandani on February 1, 2012, 3:05 GMT

    Come on Murali !! You were a great in your hay days !! The best that Sri Lanka had. Please stop playing for money !! I am sure you have enough money. Please do something for your country !! Please help young player in the country rather than trying to earn more money around the world. Murali, you are gone, Please help Sri Lanka before you help other countries. If you are very genuine why don't you play for a rural team in sri lanka and your presence in the dressing room will help the younger players in the country. Please Murali, don't sell urself for money. Help your country since it's because of Sri Lanka that you are here !!!

  • Dummy4 on January 31, 2012, 13:40 GMT

    Legend is a Legend ..he's unstoppable

  • Luke on January 31, 2012, 12:25 GMT

    It's a shame really. While he is a legend of a game, he isn't getting a second wind from this format that warne, hogg et al have done. Any fair minded observer of the game know he lost his ability to be effective around 3/4 years ago. Wasn't great at gloucestershire last year, and nor has he been for chennai and kochi.

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