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Veteran Murtagh aims to extend Middlesex career

PUBLISHED: 16:45 07 June 2019

Middlesex bowler Tim Murtagh celebrates taking a wicket (pic Martin Rickett/PA)

Middlesex bowler Tim Murtagh celebrates taking a wicket (pic Martin Rickett/PA)

PA Archive/PA Images

Tim Murtagh plans to extend his playing career for at least another season and reinforce his status as one of the most prolific bowlers in Middlesex history.

Murtagh claimed his 680th first-class scalp this week, against Sussex, to move ahead of Angus Fraser - now the club's managing director of cricket - into 18th place on the Seaxes' all-time list of leading wicket-takers.

The Ireland international needs just six more to overtake another legendary Middlesex paceman, Wayne Daniel and, although he will turn 38 in August, Murtagh's enthusiasm for the game is undiminished.

"I'm still loving playing cricket and I want to play as long as I can," said Murtagh. "I'd like to play for at least another year and then we'll see what happens.

"I'm feeling fit enough body-wise - although I know that might change, which would affect any decisions that need to be made.

"At the moment the hunger and passion are certainly still there, it's enjoyable and I love competing. These young boys keep me on my toes."

Murtagh, who joined Middlesex in 2006 after beginning his career with cross-city rivals Surrey, has already picked up 23 Specsavers County Championship wickets this summer at an average of just over 13.

But his prospects of a 14th campaign with the club have been made more complicated by a change in ECB rules following Ireland's elevation to Test status in 2017.

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Ireland internationals such as Murtagh - and his Middlesex team-mate Paul Stirling - will become classified as overseas players in the county game from the end of this season.

"I've had initial conversations with Middlesex, but it's still a bit up in the air at the moment what's going to happen," Murtagh admitted. "Unless I play for Middlesex as an overseas player, which would be nice.

"How possible that might be, I don't know. Throughout the summer there's going to be discussions between myself and Ireland and Middlesex, but nothing's been decided at the moment."

Irrespective of that conundrum, Murtagh is eagerly anticipating the opportunity to claim his third Test cap on 'home' turf next month.

Ireland are due to play their inaugural Test against England at Lord's - an added incentive for the veteran seamer to maintain his consistent level of performance for Middlesex.

Having slumped to defeat against Sussex by an innings and 50 runs, the Seaxes badly need to regain form when they travel to Leicestershire for their next four-day game, starting on Monday.

"I've got to stay fit and keep bowling well," Murtagh added. "It's a good period of four-day cricket to get myself match fit before the Test in July.

"I think every Irish cricketer has had that date at the back of their minds and it'll be really special, being at my home ground, knowing the conditions fairly well and playing in a Test against England.

"It's not going to get any better than that. I think it'd be the pinnacle of my career really."

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