Muralitharan in Lancashire return

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The Independent Online

The Sri Lanka off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan is to return to play for Lancashire in next year's County Championship.

The Sri Lanka off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan is to return to play for Lancashire in next year's County Championship. The world's leading Test wicket-taker, with 532, has had two spells at Old Trafford, in 1999 and 2001, and will only be available for the first half of next season because of international commitments.

However, he has taken 116 wickets at an average of 15 in 14 first-class matches for the county, and will be a tough prospect for Second Division batsmen following Lancashire's relegation. Muralitharan is currently recovering after surgery on a shoulder injury earlier this year.

The county's chairman, Jack Simmons, said: "I'm delighted to have him at Lancashire for another season. He must be considered one of the best to have played the game."

The seam bowler Simon Cook has left Middlesex to join First Division runners-up Kent on a two-year contract. Cook was Middlesex's leading wicket-taker in the 2004 County Championship with 35, and had an even better season in the one-day league, taking 39 wickets at an average of 15.3.

The West Indies coach Gus Logie has had his contract with the team "terminated by mutual consent", the West Indies Cricket Board has said.

* Sachin Tendulkar misses the first Test against Australia, which was due to start in the early hours of this morning, because of an elbow injury.

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