The Sri Lanka spinner Muttiah Muralitharan has confirmed he will retire from Test cricket later this month. Muralitharan, the leading wicket-taker in both Test and one-day international (ODI) formats of the game, will play his final Test against India in Galle starting on July 18. The 38-year-old has taken 792 wickets in 132 Tests and 515 wickets in 337 ODIs. A statement on the Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) website read: "The world's leading wicket taker and champion spinner Muttiah Muralitharan has decided to retire from Test cricket after the first Test in Galle versus India commencing July 18, 2010. "Mr Muralitharan has had discussions with the national selectors, SLC officials and has had the blessings of the President Mahinda Rajapakse and the Minister of Sports CB Ratnayake."
His decision to retire solely from Tests means he will still be available for next year's World Cup, which Sri Lanka will co-host with India and Bangladesh. Muralitharan had been due to retire from Tests in November but his manager Kushil Gunasekara revealed he had opted to bring that date forward. Gunasekara told Cricinfo: "Murali took a decision to retire from Test cricket during the West Indies series in November, but with an unscheduled Indian series coming up he has fast tracked his retirement from Test cricket. "The selectors want Murali to be around just in case they don't find a suitable replacement for him for the 2011 World Cup. They probably want the spinners to work around Murali."
Muralitharan has been one of the greatest and most controversial players of his generation with his unusual action leading to suspicions about its legality. He was called for throwing while in Australia on the 1995-1996 tour, first in the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne by Darrel Hair and later in the ODI series that followed. He was later cleared by the International Cricket Council (ICC) only to be called for throwing once again in Australia by Ross Emerson on the 1998-1999 tour. Having been cleared once more, the rumours disappeared only to resurface in March 2004 when he was reported by the ICC match referee Chris Broad following a prolific three-match series against Australia in which his doosra delivery did much of the damage. The ICC failed to find any evidence with which to punish Murali and he continued taking wickets.
He overtook Courtney Walsh's 519-wicket world record to become the highest wicket-taker in Test history in May 2004. He was overtaken by Australian great Shane Warne but surpassed the leg-spinner against England in December 2007. He then broke the Pakistan paceman Wasim Akram's ODI record by claiming a 503rd victim in 2009. * PA
792 - Muttiah Muralitharan, Sri Lanka (132 matches) 708 - Shane Warne, Australia (145) 619 - Anil Kumble, India (132) 563 - Glenn McGrath, Australia (124) 519 - Courtney Walsh, West Indies (132) 434 - Kapil Dev, India (131) 431 - Sir Richard Hadlee, New Zealand (86) 421 - Shaun Pollock, South Africa (108) 414 - Wasim Akram, Pakistan (104) 405 - Curtly Ambrose, West Indies (98) Muralitharan is the only active player in the list