September 18 2014 Latest news:

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Tim Murtagh is content to sacrifice next week’s one-day international series as he concentrates on spearheading Middlesex’s battle for top-flight survival.

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Along with county colleague Paul Stirling, the Middlesex seamer will be missing Ireland’s three-match series against Scotland, which gets under way next Monday.

And Murtagh is urging his Middlesex team-mates to rally together as they continue their fight to stay in County Championship Division One with a crucial match against rivals Durham next week.

“It’s the same for all the county players – we’ve not been called up by Cricket Ireland and I think they know how important these games are for teams that are trying to chase the title or stay up,” said Murtagh.

“We’ve got three more big games to come and the division’s so bunched up that no-one’s really safe and everyone’s scrapping for every point.

“There are always some surprise results in September and the weather might play a part as well. We need to pick up enough points to get away from that bottom two, but it’s not going to be easy.

“We’re all desperate to stay in this division. I know people are feeling the heat a little bit, but we’ve got to play as we have done throughout the last few years and pull together.

“It’s going to be a group effort to make sure we do stay in this division – this is where we want to be competing and we’ve got to be up for the fight.”

The 33-year-old has been a mainstay of the Middlesex bowling attack for the last eight years since his switch from Surrey, taking in excess of 50 County Championship wickets in all but two of those seasons.

Having moved up to 44 during Middlesex’s drawn match against Warwickshire, Murtagh is determined to reach his half-century again – at least – in their remaining games.

“That is always a target at the start of the season,” he added. “It’s what I see as the bare minimum and, if I play enough games, I should take 50 wickets in the year.

“But I’ve found it a bit harder this season and there’s no doubt it’s been a harder year for us bowlers. Things haven’t quite clicked as they have done in previous years.

“I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it has been harder since the first half of the season. Wickets haven’t been so easy to come by and you’ve just got to keep working hard and plugging away.”

Middlesex expect to have Eoin Morgan and Steven Finn – both of whom missed the Warwickshire match due to their involvement in England’s one-day series against India – available for the Durham game, which gets under way on Tuesday at Lord’s.

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