Cricket: Lancashire secure magic of Muralitharan

LANCASHIRE HAVE confirmed the signing of Muttiah Muralitharan, the Sri Lankan off-spinner, as their overseas player for next season. The 27-year-old bowler replaces Wasim Akram, the Pakistan all-rounder, who has been at the club since 1987 and has led them to both the NatWest Trophy and the AXA League title this season.

Muralitharan, who was pursued by two other counties, including Kent, has signed a one-season contract and will report to Old Trafford when Sri Lanka's World Cup commitments come to an end next summer. He will only be available to play half of Lancashire's Championship matches and two thirds of their one-day games and could be called away again at the end of the season for Sri Lanka's home Test series against Australia.

Wasim, meanwhile, has announced himself open to offers from other counties after Lancashire's decision: "If someone wanted to sign me for next year and the year 2000 then that would be great, but I don't want to hang around playing after that," he said. "I've had some fantastic times with Lancashire and I'm going to miss the place so much, the club, the dressing-room and being part of it all. I don't think I've got a single bad memory of my time here.

"I wanted to stay but they decided on Murali, which is fine by me, and if we can win our third trophy at the end of the season then that would be a dream come true.

"Muralitharan is one of the best off-spinners in the world and there is no doubt he's a match-winner. I think he will fit in well in the Lancashire dressing-room because he's very bubbly and he's always laughing," Wasim said.

Muralitharan produced one of the great performances in Test history earlier this month by claiming 16 wickets for 220 runs, the fifth-best figures of all time, to help Sri Lanka complete an emphatic 10-wicket victory over England at The Oval. He has taken 68 wickets in eight Tests this year - more than any other player.

Leicestershire's hopes of winning a second County Championship title in three years are being threatened by an injury to Alan Mullally their fast left-arm bowler - and the unpredictable English weather. Mullally, who will tour Australia this winter with England, could miss his side's penultimate game against bottom of the table Essex at Grace Road today with a calf strain. He will have a fitness test this morning before a decision is made. James Ormond is standing by.

Essex, champions in 1996, lead Surrey - who they face at The Oval in the final game of the season next week - by five points, with treble-chasing Lancashire three points back in third.

Rain and high winds are expected in the Leicester area over the next four days and the Leicestershire manager, Jack Birkenshaw, said: "It's becoming an exciting finish to the season but because of the weather forecast, things are very much in the lap of the Gods. Hopefully, we'll get a fortnight's decent weather for everyone and may the best team win.

"It's in our hands now and we've got to play like we can. Essex have got some useful players and they'll be looking to redeem themselves after losing the Sunday League. They certainly won't roll over."

At the Riverside, Durham take on Surrey with the 26-year-old Martin Saggers given his first appearance of the season. He takes over from Marc Symington, who made his Championship debut against Derbyshire, while Steve Harmison returns in place of Neil Killeen, who suffered a knee injury against Glamorgan on Sunday.

Gloucestershire are expected to keep faith with the side that defeated Northamptonshire inside two days as they aim to keep their faint Championship title hopes alive against Middlesex at Lord's today.

The Bristol club are in fourth place, 21 points behind Leicestershire, and their attack will be spearheaded by Courtney Walsh, who has 89 first- class wickets and is looking to take 100 in a season for the second time.

Yorkshire's Darren Gough will again be on the injured list as Dickie Bird umpires in his final first-class match when Warwickshire visit Headingley. Brian Lara, the visiting captain, is out of the game with an injured left knee, and is replaced by Trevor Penney.

Shane Warne, the Australian leg-spinner, hopes to be fit for the first Ashes Test against England in late November. He said the progression of his reconstructed shoulder was ahead of schedule.

Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark episode 8, review
United States President Barack Obama, right, uses actor Keegan-Michael Key from Key & Peele to play the part of 'Luther, President Obama's anger translator'
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions