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The Sri Lankan off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan has been denied permission by the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka (BCCSL) to fulfill his English county cricket commitments as Lancashire's overseas player for 1999. Muralitharan, who has been called for throwing in successive tours to Australia, has been told he must undergo surgery on the shoulder of his bowling arm. Old Trafford chief executive Jim Cumbes admitted: "It is a worrying situation. "Obviously we have been concerned recently, but this news is a surprise and if he is not allowed to come it will be a big blow. Meanwhile, South Africa beat the West Indies by 99 runs at St George's Park to take a 3-1 lead in the seven-match series. Spearheaded by a maiden international century by Herschelle Gibbs (125), South Africa scored 278 for six wickets in their innings after the West Indies won the toss and decided to field. In response, the West Indies were in early trouble as Steve Elworthy struck twice to get rid of Junior Murray (0) and Philo Wallace (1). Keith Arthurton and Shivnarine Chanderpaul briefly rebuilt the innings, and Carl Hooper hit 57 off just 40 balls, but the West Indies' innings then folded.