Muttiah Muralitharan, the leading wicket taker in international cricket, is to join Victoria for the upcoming Australian domestic Twenty20 competition.
Cricket Victoria chief executive Tony Dodemaide announced the signing on Wednesday, saying the Sri Lankan spin great would join West Indies all-rounder Dwayne Bravo as the Bushrangers’ international players for the interstate T20 league.
“Murali is without peer in terms of current spinners in world cricket and a true legend of the game,” Dodemaide said in a statement. “He holds records for the most wickets in both Test and ODI cricket and has an impressive record in Twenty20s as well, capable of match-turning spells and conceding less than 6 runs an over on average — a remarkable performance in this frenetic new format.”
Victoria was also home to Australia’s leading spinner Shane Warne. Warne retired from Test cricket in 2006-07 as the leading wicket-taker in Test cricket with 708 dismissals - a mark Muralitharan passed in December, 2007.
Muralitharan, who was no-balled for chucking at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in 2005, and had regularly been subjected to barracking by Australian fans, was eager to experience being a crowd favourite at the 100,000-capacity ground.
“What a thrill it will be to play in front of a ‘home’ crowd at the mighty MCG,” he said in a statement. “It’s an exciting prospect and a great honour, and I look forward to playing my part in the Bushrangers’ team and hopefully entertaining Victorian and Australian fans.”
The trophy for the Australia-Sri Lanka Test series is named after both of the great spin bowlers, something Muralitharan noted ahead of the signing.
“Shane Warne and I share the honour of having a trophy that bears our names, and I’m delighted to be following in his footsteps as a Victorian spinner.”
Australia’s six state teams are each allowed two international players for the December 28-January 23 T20 competition. The two finalists in the competition qualify for the Champions League, which features the leading T20 provincial teams from around the world.
Victoria and New South Wales qualified for the inaugural Champions League, which will be held in India in October.