Muttiah Muralitharan: feeling the strain

With the world record for the highest number of Test wickets within his reach, and age catching up on him, Muttiah Muralitharan has asked the Sri Lankan selectors to handle him with care. His plea for a reduced workload was based on the battering his body received during the series against England, by the end of which he needed an ice pack for his sore shoulder.

"Breaking the record is within my reach," said Murali, speaking to the Associated Press, a news agency. He has 485 wickets in 85 Tests, behind Courtney Walsh (519) and Shane Warne (491). "I think there will soon be a race between Warne and me," he said, "but that is a challenge which I like."

But not if there was danger of his body giving way. "If they [the Sri Lankan board] make me play in the provincial tournaments, it will be difficult when the Australians come."

Meanwhile John Dyson, Sri Lanka's coach, said that the ice pack should not be taken too seriously. "There is nothing wrong with Murali's shoulder," he said. "One should not keep looking at the iced pack, which is not unusual these days."