Sri Lanka face up to life without Muralitharan

July 23, 2010 (AFP) – Sri Lanka entered a new cricketing era on Friday, facing an uncertain future without the legendary Muttiah Muralitharan, the world’s leading wicket-taker. Muralitharan, 38, quit Test cricket on Thursday after reaching the unprecedented 800-wicket landmark, having played a major role in a 10-wicket victory over India in Galle.

The off-spinner finished with more Test (800) and one-day (515) wickets than any bowler in history, a record that is unlikely to be surpassed in the foreseeable future.

Among bowlers still playing Tests, India’s Harbhajan Singh leads the pack with 355 wickets and New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori has 325.

Muralitharan was the kingpin of the Sri Lankan attack for the past 18 years, and skipper Kumar Sangakkara admitted his inspiring presence will be missed – besides the bagful of wickets each time he came on to bowl.

“My theory is that I am not going to look for another Murali because you are not going to find one,” said Sangakkara. “There will be no one like him.

“For me, leading out the side without Murali will be a huge loss. But it gives us an opportunity to see how really the other bowlers will be