Sri Lankan bowler Muttiah Muralitharan
is seen as setting an example [AFP]
Record-breaking bowler Muttiah Muralitharan has been honoured in Sri Lanka's parliament where the lawmakers praised him as an icon of unity to a divided nation.

Muralitharan broke the world record for most test wickets in December, surpassing Australia's Shane Warne tally of 708 dismissals.

Many of his present and former teammates were seated in the parliament's gallery when the speaker and lawmakers spoke.

"Our country's rulers have been unable to bring glory to our country the way some of our sportsmen have,'' said Wimal Weerawansa, a lawmaker from Marxist People's Liberation Front.

"The cricket team is a good example of different races coming together to succeed. We politicians must emulate them,'' he said.

Muralitharan is the only ethnic Tamil in the national cricket team and this status has helped an otherwise divided country come together to support cricket.

Tamil groups have argued they are overlooked for jobs and education by the majority ethnic Sinhalese government.

Grievances held by the Tamil minority have resulted in a civil war between rebels and troops of the majority Sinhalese government that has claimed more than 70,000 lives over the past quarter-century.

Source: Agencies