Murtagh: Our main aim is promotion

By Pat Mooney TIM Murtagh this week urged his Middlesex team-mates to forget about another dismal Twenty20 Cup campaign and focus on the club s top priority this season – promotion back to the first division of the County Championship. The 25-year-old

By Pat Mooney

TIM Murtagh this week urged his Middlesex team-mates to forget about another dismal Twenty20 Cup campaign and focus on the club's top priority this season - promotion back to the first division of the County Championship.

The 25-year-old Murtagh, who made the short trip across London to Lord's from Surrey earlier this season, bowled the last over in Middlesex's final Twenty20 group game against Essex in front of another big home crowd on Friday.

And after top scoring with an unbeaten 40, the seamer took a wicket with his first ball but then suffered as Essex won the game with just one ball to spare.


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"We were gutted not to win and I was desperately disappointed not to have produced more off the final over," Murtagh told Wood&Vale Sport.

"Overall, we didn't play good enough cricket to qualify - we certainly did not bat well enough throughout the competition.

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"Our main aim, however, is to win promotion back to the top flight of the County Championship and I'm confident we will. We've made a reasonable start in the first half of the season. It has not been spectacular and we were unbeaten before this week's defeat against Derbyshire at Southgate.

"It was so disappointing to lose - it was our game in hand over two of the top three teams - and we also had the benefit of having Chris Silverwood and Alan Richardson back after both were rested for the Twenty20.

"We want to get back to the top division as quickly as possible. But nobody is guaranteed success and now we have to work extra hard to get there this season.

"I feel we have bowled well as a unit this season and have a quality spinner in Murali Kartik. Yet, as a team we have not scored as many runs as we would have liked. We need to start putting the big scores on the board."

Murtagh admitted the reason he made the switch to Lord's was because he wanted to play more four-day cricket. "I've really enjoyed my time at Middlesex so far," he said. "I've been playing in all forms of cricket, which I never really managed to do at Surrey. It was the right move for me and I've contributed with both the bat and ball.

"There is a new regime at Middlesex with a new coach in Richard Pybus and new captain in Ed Smith. Ed has not had a lot of experience as captain but he is open to ideas and is willing to listen. Personally, I get on very well with him."

Murtagh has also been impressed with young players like Billy Godleman and Eoin Morgan, who are breaking through into the first team this season. "Billy is improving all the time in the four-day game and opened with Andrew Strauss against Derby on Sunday. He has good concentration and although is not the finished article it won't be too long before he is.

"Eoin has come into his own in the Twenty20. He strikes the ball so clearly and I feel both have big futures in the game."

Murtagh, who was a member of the England Under-19 squad during the 1999 World Cup, has not given up on making the breakthrough at senior level. "I'm still learning in both forms of cricket," he said. "I'm only 25 years old and playing for England is certainly an aim of mine in the long term."

pat.mooney@hamhigh.co.uk

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