Gloucestershire have sealed the signing of legendary Sri Lankan off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan on a two-year deal to play Twenty20 cricket.
Muralitharan, who will retire from international cricket following the 2011 World Cup, has taken a record 800 Test wickets and to date 519 One-Day International wickets.
A World Cup winner with Sri Lanka in 1996, he has won the Indian Premier League and Champions League Twenty20 tournaments with the Chennai Super Kings.
He has previous experience of county cricket as well, having played for Kent and Lancashire, although he has only represented Lancashire in Twenty20 cricket in England before.
He is set to join up with Gloucestershire following the World Cup and the fourth edition of the Indian Premier League, in which he will be playing for new franchise Kochi.
“I am really looking forward to playing for Gloucestershire," Muralitharan told the club's website (www.gloscricket.com).
"It is a young exciting team and I hope I can add some experience to the mix. The last time I played at Bristol I took five wickets and I look forward to an exciting t20 competition with the Gladiators.”
Chief Executive Tom Richardson added: “Signing Muttiah Muralitharan has given everybody in the club a great boost and there is a real buzz about the place. He is someone who can add huge value and we are all very much looking forward to working with him.”
Director of Cricket John Bracewell said: “This is an exciting and once in a lifetime opportunity to work and play with one of the greatest cricketers in the history of the game. Whenever I have watched and observed 'Murali' he has always had and shown an infectious love for the game of cricket. This is something that I personally am looking forward to working with.”
Club captain Alex Gidman added: “I can’t wait to meet and to play with Muttiah Muralitharan. From the players point of view, it will be a great experience and I am sure we will learn a huge amount from him. This has given us a huge boost going into the 2011 season.”
Muralitharan has played 73 Twenty20 matches, taking 95 wickets at an impressive economy rate of just 6.16 runs per over.
© Cricket World 2011