Gloucestershire have confirmed the signing of legendary Sri Lankan bowler Muttiah Muralitharan for the next two seasons of their Twenty20 campaign.
Having retired from test cricket last July, the 38 year old has been playing his domestic cricket for Tamil Union since 1991 as well as turning out for a number of sides throughout the world, including both Lancashire and Kent. He will arrive at Nevil Road after playing for Kochi in the Indian Premier League, where he has played the last two years for the Channai Super Kings for the last two years.
With his vast experience of cricket both on a domestic level and on the international stage the signing of “Murali” represents a massive coup for the county. Director of cricket John Bracewell said “This is an exciting opportunity to work with one of the greatest cricketers in the history of the game” while Gloucestershire captain Alex Gidman confirmed he is “sure we will learn a huge amount from him. This has given us a huge boost going into the 2011 season.”
Muralitharan played 133 test matches for Sri Lanka, taking 800 wickets, with best figures of 9/51 in his 18 year test career. On the ODI stage he has taken 519 wickets in his 341 matches, while his averages in the two forms of international cricket are 22.72 and 23.18 respectively. He has also been named the Leading Cricketer in the World by Wisden in both 2000 and 2006; while he won the World Cup with Sri Lanka in 1996 and reached the final again in 2007 as well as the Twenty20 World Cup final in 2009.
As well as bringing knowledge and experience to the young Gloucestershire squad, it is also though that his signing could lead to an increase in ticket sales, as fans flock to see the great man bowl over the next two seasons on the domestic Twenty20 competition which gets underway in June.