Lara will not return next year

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The news Warwickshire supporters had been fearing broke yesterday. Brian Lara has ruled out a return to the county as their overseas player next season. The West Indian batsman, who helped Warwickshire to a unique treble in his debut season with them last year, has been released from his contract because he felt unable to give them the "necessary commitment".

Warwickshire "reluctantly agreed" to his request and will discuss the remaining two years of Lara's three-year deal at their next general committee meeting on 13 November.

Dennis Amiss, the chief executive at Edgbaston, said he had been optimistic "but I spoke to him last night and he feels that he needs time off because of his international commitments."

Lara replaced Manoj Prabhakar when the Indian withdrew through injury after agreeing to fill in for Allan Donald, who was touring England with South Africa. His signing proved inspirational as Warwickshire became the first side to win the County Championship, Benson and Hedges Cup and Sunday League in the same season.

He hit a world record first-class score of 501 against Durham and scored six hundreds in his opening seven Championship innings, averaging 89.82 after scoring 2,066 runs in first-class cricket.

Donald ruled himself out by taking up a coaching post at the club, but Roger Twose, a member of two Championship winning sides, is likely to be considered after leaving Warwickshire this year to become a Test player with New Zealand.

Salim Malik, the former Pakistan captain who was cleared by his national authorities of bribery allegations made by three Australian Test players, arrived in Australia yesterday to join Pakistan's tour.

At Perth airport, he refused to comment on the issue, raised by Shane Warne, Tim May and Mark Waugh of offering them money to play poorly during Australia's tour of Pakistan last year. "I am just here to play cricket. Please excuse me, let me go," he said as he pushed through a throng of reporters. "I am under contract and I am not allowed to say anything controversial."

n The Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar has signed a five-year commercial deal with WorldTel that is believed to be the most lucrative involving a cricketer. The American-based company has bought the television broadcast rights for next year's World Cup.