Spin King Murali joins Gloucestershire

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Sri Lankan ace signs up for Twenty20 Cricket

SPIN King Muttiah Muralitharan has signed for Gloucestershire County Cricket Club.

The 38-year-old has agreed terms on a two-year deal to play exclusively in Twenty20 cricket during 2011 and 2012.

Muralitharan quit Test cricket last July after taking a record 800 wickets and recently announced that he would be retiring altogether from the international arena after the forthcoming World Cup.

He will join Gloucestershire after playing in the World Cup for Sri Lanka and the Indian Premier League for new franchise Kochi and will be available for the t20 domestic season.

Muralitharan said: “I am really looking forward to playing for Gloucestershire. 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.”

There is an understandable buzz amongst the players over the arrival of the Sri Lankan ace.

Club captain Alex Gidman said: “I can’t wait to meet and to play with Muttiah Muralitharan. From the player’s 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.”

Director of Cricket John Bracewell added: “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.”

Muralitharan, who helped Sri Lanka win the 1996 World Cup and was a losing finalist in 2007, has taken 517 wickets in 339 one-day internationals during a career which has spanned nearly two decades at the top level and left him as the world’s leading wicket-taker in both the major formats of the game.

In 133 Test appearances he claimed 800 wickets at an average of just 22.72. He also played in 12 Twenty20 internationals for his country.

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