Dubai:ICC President Sharad Pawar on Saturday paid glowing tributes to retiring Sri Lanka spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan, describing him as a legend, role model and a great ambassador of the game.
Muralitharan will retire after the opening Test against India at Galle starting Sunday.
"He has enjoyed a remarkably successful career and I am sure that while we will all be sad to see him leave the Test Match arena, the pinnacle of international cricket, that his achievements will inspire a new generation of young cricketers," Pawar said.
"In this format he has re-written the history book and created a mark that will be difficult to surpass. He is a true legend of our great sport.
"Murali, a modest man, has also been an excellent role model and great ambassador throughout his career - playing the game with not only great skill but also great spirit.
"His record is truly astonishing for not only does he have 792 Test match wickets but he also has 512 wickets in One-Day International cricket," he said.
Pawar also expressed happiness that Muralitharan will continue to play in the shorter version of the game till next year's World Cup, which will be held in the subcontinent.
"We are all thrilled that he will continue his one-day career until the end of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011, to be held in India, Bangladesh and, of course, his home country of Sri Lanka," he added.
Muralitharan needs just eight more scalps to touch the 800-mark in Test cricket and Pawar hopes the Lanka spin wizard achieves the rare feat in his swansong Test match.
"I am sure there will be cricket lovers all over the world who will hope that Muttiah Muralitharan breaks the 800 Test wicket barrier," Pawar said.