Sri Lanka news July 30, 2009

Murali sets Test retirement date


Sri Lankan offspinner Muttiah Muralitharan has said he will retire from Test cricket next year. Murali, who is the highest wicket-taker in Tests with 770 wickets in 127 Tests, announced that the two-Test home series against West Indies in November 2010 would be his last.

Speaking at the end of the first ODI against Pakistan, in which he won the Man-of-the-Match award, the 37-year-old Murali said he would focus on playing one-day cricket until the 2011 World Cup, to be held in the subcontinent, and would thereafter stick to Twenty20 cricket.

"I am not going to play for a long time. 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. "The hardest game in cricket is Tests. The hardest part is you have to take wickets and get batsmen out and sometimes you have to spend two days on the field. You have to mentally prepare yourself for every game. In Twenty20, you look to contain the batsmen and he tries some shots and gets out. Fifty-over cricket is also the same. In Test cricket you have to read the batsmen, set the fields properly and get the wickets."

Muralitharan missed Sri Lanka's 2-0 win in the recent three-Test series against Pakistan due to a torn tendon in his right knee, which could be one of the factors in his decision.

"I put in a lot of effort in the last one month to be fit," said Muralitharan. "I trained very hard with the physio Tommy [Simsek] and trainers Jade [Roberts] and Mario [Villavarayan] 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.

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Murali's milestones
  • August, 1992 - Murali made his Test debut against Australia at the Khettarama Stadium and took 3 for 141.
  • December, 1995 - No-balled by Darrell Hair seven times for a suspect action during the Boxing Day Test at the MCG.
  • March, 1997 - Became the first Sri Lankan to reach 100 Test wickets.
  • January, 2002 - Became the fastest to reach the 400-wicket landmark. It took him only 72 Tests.
  • May, 2004: Went past Courtney Walsh's record for the most Test wickets when he claims his 520th wicket.
  • July, 2007 Reached the 700-wicket milestone in his 113th Test. The last 100 wickets came in 12 Tests.
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"The doctors said that I have to go through with it and train harder. I can't go for an operation because I will be out for six to seven months. That will mean my career is almost over and that I am not going to play for a long time.

"A torn tendon is a very big injury and it will take a long time to heal. The best suggestion was for me to rest for two to three weeks, train hard and play with a little pain. I was prepared to go through with it. The doctors said that I can definitely play with the injury for about one to two years but in the end when I finish I will have to operate on it."

Muralitharan, who once harboured hopes of becoming the first bowler in Test history to take 1000 wickets, said the lack of Test cricket for Sri Lanka had made it difficult for him to achieve the milestone.

"If I am to get 1000 Test wickets we have to play Test matches regularly," Muralitharan said. "These days we play fewer Test matches."

In 2010, Sri Lanka have only the two-Test series at home against West Indies to look forward to. However, Muralitharan said 800 wickets would be a more realistic target as Sri Lanka are due to play two home Tests against New Zealand starting next month, followed by three Tests in India at the end of the year.

Muralitharan made his Test debut against Australia in 1992, and became Test cricket's leading wicket-taker when he went past Shane Warne's record of 708 wickets against England in December 2007, fittingly on his home ground in Kandy. He achieved the grand double of being the highest wicket-taker in ODIs as well when he went past Wasim Akram's record of 502 wickets in 2009.

He currently has 507 ODI wickets from the 330 ODIs played, at an average of 22.74. He has also featured in eight Twenty20 internationals, picking up 11 wickets at 16.81.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • hayden on August 6, 2009, 1:51 GMT

    i wonder how many aussies tried to comment on this page but werent posted??? me thinks quite a few! murali will always be remembered as one of the most controversial bowlers to ever grace the cricket field. i will give him credit for always smiling through out the many dramas of his career but i cant help but wonder is his nominated date of retirment because he doesnt want to tour australia again? and for the record i dont think Liquifier's comments represent the way most aussies think of murali, you only have to listen to the no ball chants form the crowd when he bowls down here to know what we really think!

  • Dwight on August 3, 2009, 16:14 GMT

    Saim93- I too always thought Murali would quit T20's after the world cup in 2010 then ODI's after the WC 2011 and continue to play Tests till he got a 1000 wickets or was unable to continue playing.

    Regardless Murali you are not only our nation's but the world's greatest bowler of all time...

  • Michael on August 1, 2009, 21:54 GMT

    I just wanted to add to the massive tributes paid already to Murali. He has been the most revolutionary bowler of my lifetime,when there have been a few, and totally beyond the mundane. Watching him has been a treat even when my own team's players have been fighting for their wickets. It is pity that he has not been spared a lot of controversy because he has always been one of the game's great entertainer's including the expression's upon releasing the ball-replicating certian traditional sri lankan masks. Always a fascination, his bowling has changed the whole concept of spin bowling. The smile too has been a great joy to see. Hope he reconsiders retirement.

  • Anoop on August 1, 2009, 18:45 GMT

    Murali has made a right decision, a decision which majority - if at all any one - of the Indian players fail to make, at the right time. He is much more magnanimous an individual than Shane Warne, and comparisons are, but, not to stay.

    I wish him all the very best in his future endevours, and urge my Indian counterparts to follow the suit, rather than wait for the treatments dolled out to Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, Sourav Ganguly....

  • Chan on August 1, 2009, 17:35 GMT

    huh.. ? minnows . ? datz really an unfair tag... dude.. If itz so what about his ODI record.. ? shame on you stupids. Dont you people know how may 5 wickets holds and 10 wickets holds he has against India, England,South Affrica, West indies,New zealand.. ? that count is enough to compete with Mr. SK warne who has only 10 - ten wickets 37- five wickets.. in 145 matches .. lol Murali has 22- ten wicket holds and 67- five wickets in 127 matches. hehehe and he hold the title for highest wicket taker in ODI as well.. NOW WHO IS THE BEST .. ? other thing is dnt u kno dat even the bangladeshi player are good at playing spinners.. ? and tracks in colombo doesnt spin always..DO SOME HOME WORK BEFORE SAY SOMETHING !!!!

  • Saim on August 1, 2009, 15:16 GMT

    This is weird, i always thought murali would leave T20,then ODI and then stick with tests.

  • Philip on July 31, 2009, 17:05 GMT

    All good things must come to end at some point. Records, moments and memories will live. Thank you Murali for having kept the spirit of cricket bright. You have been fair and have fought for fairness right through. Not only have you done it in cricket, but you have showed the whole world what it takes to be a true gentlemen when you worked tirelessy in the aftermath of the Asian Tsunami. You were nursing injuries during that period, but you "spoke" by physically working for those who needed help. May God bless you and your family. Philip Gnana, Surrey.

  • Husni on July 31, 2009, 17:05 GMT

    Murali is 1 f da best bowlers cricket hav cum across, so glad to say tht the highest wicket taker in both formats f da game is an sri lankan. What cn v ask more frm him, even tho wht i feel is he shud play test cricket, bcoz he has cme soo close to da 1000 wicket milestone. Which no other bowlers seem to be cmg evn closer. So he deserves to achieve da 1000 wicket milestone !!! Anyway thnx a lot murali 4 da memories!!!

  • Tissa on July 31, 2009, 16:44 GMT

    Murali is a fighter, he never gave up during the chucking controversy, never when he had shoulder injury. Why now ? If you reflect on what is going on in SL cricket this seems to be part of the plan of Sanga+de mel politics. First it was Marvan, then Sanath, then Vassy, now Murali. Sanga, however, you may be talented as captain may be , you are not going to be successful if you try to push out legends due to your own insecurity. Murali deserves his chance at least another 2 years. All the new bee has not been consistent (Mendis, Hearath) Sanga you may have been lucky winning unprepared Pakistan with gambling, but I did not see any strategy. wait until you meet MS Doni or ponting. I hape Sanga you would not pushout, Prassanna Jayawardana as well as part of your grand scheme of politics. with that you and de mel have done the greatest damage to SL cricket since infamous South African tour in early 1980's

  • shihan on July 31, 2009, 15:24 GMT

    Murali you are a true gentlman.As sport lovers we really love you.No one can compare with you COZ YOU ARE THE NO 1 BOWLER!!!!!!!

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