Muttiah Muralitharan, the eldest of four sons, began his career as a medium-pace bowler before switching to off-spin when he was 14 years old.
He made his Test debut aged 20 against Australia on August 28, 1992, claiming three wickets for 141 runs.
Eighteen years later, Muralitharan is cricket's greatest wicket-taker in both Tests and one-day internationals and one of the most successful bowlers in the game.
The legality of the 38-year-old off-spinner's bowling action might have split opinion but was cleared by the International Cricket Council (ICC) in 1996 and again in 1999.
Image: Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan bowls during the match against England at the Gabba, Brisbane 11 January. England went on to beat Sri Lanka by four wickets to take a commanding lead at the top of the standings in the three nation limited overs contest.
Image : AFP
Text : Reuters