Murali may quit before 2011 World Cup
Muttiah Muralitharan, the Sri Lankan spinner, has said he may quit international cricket before the 2011 World Cup in the subcontinent.
Murali, on his fourth tour to India, his final overseas tour, is struggling to come to terms with the placid Indian pitches and a strong batting line-up which has treated him harshly in the series so far. In the second Test, in Kanpur, he went for over 100 runs for the second time in two Tests in the series, and so far his five wickets have cost him 396 runs, at an average of 79.20.
"I am 37 years old and I can't bowl as much as those days because I get tired after 15-16 overs. But I will try and play a little bit of one-day cricket - that's only 10 overs to bowl. If I find everything is not going well I might retire from both forms of the game before the World Cup," Murali said. "Everything depends on how much my body can take. In Test cricket it's a little bit harder because I have always been a threat to other sides [but] at the moment it's not looking like that because others are playing me well. I think I made the right decision to retire from Test cricket at the end of the West Indies series next year.
"Two to three years ago it was not like this. Now you have niggles here and there and my groin is not the same as it used to be. We got the worst bowling conditions in the last two Tests. We didn't have the bowlers, that was one of the factors. But that's the way cricket goes, everything won't work in your favour."
Sri Lanka are struggling in the series because Murali has not been able to give them the breakthroughs he usually does. "I've played only eight Tests this year: two against Bangladesh, two against Pakistan, and two against New Zealand when I really did well bowling in the second innings of the second Test with a groin injury," he said. "Whenever the side wanted a breakthrough I got it for them in the New Zealand series. I don't know why it's not happening here.
"You have to give credit to India also for playing well. Whatever we were expecting didn't happen. Even the spinners didn't do well in any Test because everyone was not up to the mark and the wicket was not assisting them."
Sri Lanka are yet to win a Test in India, but Murali said that he won't be too disappointed if he had to return home without a Test victory in India. "Every cricketer has to go through disappointments. Everything you want to happen in life won't happen; something will be missing. Looking back I can say what an amazing career I have gone through but if we can't win in India that's it. Life has to go on."
Already the leading wicket-taker in Tests, he needs 12 more wickets in a possible three Tests to reach 800, but he said he was not targetting personal milestones. "I am not really focussing on finishing off my career taking 800 Test wickets. My focus is on winning matches. I don't believe in numbers. Eight hundred is just a number everyone will forget once you retire. It's a number to have in your mind. It is good if I get it but if I don't, still I will be happy and go out knowing I had a great career."