Legendary Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan has signed a two-year deal to play Twenty20 cricket for Gloucestershire in 2011 and 2012.
Fresh from helping one new team – Kochi – launch their IPL career, Murali is set to join his third county as they bid to put behind them a poor 2010 season.
Having lost the services of William Porterfield, Anthony Ireland, Gemaal Hussain and Steve Kirby over the winter, the recent news that captain Alex Gidman has signed a new contract and now the high-profile signing of Muralitharan has given the Bristol-based team a huge boost.
The club hasn’t won a top-flight competition since 2004. Could 2011 be the year that they get back to winning ways?
In 2007, they reached the final of the Twenty20 Cup and they will be hoping that Muralitharan – a man who has won both the IPL and the Champions League, not to mention the World Cup – can produce some of his magic in the two years he is with them.
He has an outstanding T20 record, conceding just 6.16 runs per over, which in the shortest format of the game where batsmen often dominate, is nothing short of world-class.
He may be retiring from international cricket following the 2011 World Cup, but Gloucestershire supporters will hope he can add his name to the long and illustrious list of stars to have played for their club. Even for Murali, living up to the feats of the likes of Mike Proctor, Zaheer Abbas, Courtney Walsh, not to mention W.G Grace and Wally Hammond, will be a tall order, however.