Murtagh's Childhood And Dreams Come True On The Honours Board > Cricket News, cricinfo, mobilecric, cricbuzz, livescore and more
Cricket news - Murtagh's childhood dreams come alive on the other honours board
The stories of qualifying for a new country are full of colour.
Ed Joyce was in a hot-tube with Angus Fraser when the Middlesex director of cricket suggested the Irishman qualify to play for England. Though Ireland lost him for a few years, Joyce made amends - and then some - in 2011 when he pestered Tim Murtagh about his Irish-sounding surname.
As it happens, Joyce was right: Murtagh had an Irish grandfather, and after tracking down the required birth certificate to France where it was in the possession of his aunt, the wily seamer from Lambeth began his journey as an international cricketer. On Wednesday, he entered himself into Ireland folklore.
With a ridiculous 5 for 13 in his opening spell of nine overs from the Nursery End, the 37-year old dismantled England for just 85 in the first session. His figures are now the most economical spell on the visiting honours board situated in the away dressing room. It is not one he is familiar with considering he plays all his domestic cricket at this ground across this hall in the one marked "home". Nor is it the one he had his sights on as a youngster after playing age-group cricket for England.
"It's as special as it gets as a cricketer," said Murtagh after stumps. "Growing up as a kid, I dreamt of being on that honours board, though probably not in that dressing room. As it works out, it's the away dressing room which perhaps makes it a bit more special now. It's a fantastic feeling walking off at lunchtime holding the ball up. It's as good a feeling as I've had in my career."
Knowledge of conditions seemed paramount. Murtagh's end has always been the Nursery End, and as it stands he has 295 first class wickets at Lord's, at an average of 22.88. His debut in County Cricket came in 2001, when he was south of the river at Surrey. Such is the longevity of his career that he played alongside England's batting coach, Graham Thorpe, who remembers giving Murtagh his old bats. "He was a bit quicker back then," remarked Thorpe, before heaping praise on a master seamer at the height of his craft.
He saw off Jason Roy with a delivery hung outside off stump, then found an edge when going across the left-handed Rory Burns. Jonny Bairstow, yearning to drive, was bowled through the gate to one that went up the slope, as did the prized fifth which trapped Chris Woakes in front.
"I should know how to bowl here by now. I'm a bit long in the tooth and played for a number of years here. I knew if I found my length today, hopefully I could cause some problems.
"I said that to the other guys. If we're disciplined as we should be and pitch the ball up, there'll be enough in the wicket to cause a bit of damage."
They certainly heeded his words. Mark Adair shared the new ball well, taking three for 32 which included Joe Root, with Body Rankin finishing off the tail with two wickets for just five.
Could the recent World Cup win and Ashes on the horizon have been a distraction? It's hard to say, certainly for Murtagh. But he did cede there was something of a perfect storm of playing England after such a high, with players rested and focus drifting to next week and that first Test against Australia in Birmingham.
"If you gave us the time to play England, this would be the time we would choose: coming from such a massive high of winning the World Cup and with an Ashes around the corner. There maybe eyes elsewhere. I said leading up to the game that we need to use it to our advantage. There are obviously guys under pressure to get in that first Ashes team next week. That, I guess, is how it panned out this morning."
He was not done there. A cameo of 16 with the bat helped push Ireland past 200 and eventually to a first innings lead of 122: "We know it's going to be tougher. It might not happen as quickly as it did this morning.. But we also know that wicket is doing enough. We can make some inroads in the morning and put them under pressure tomorrow."
Though he did not want to dwell on his batting, it does sum up Murtagh as a cricketer. No frills and as simple as it comes. He hammers out a length on off-stump, the makes room and tries to hammers the ball to where the fielders aren't. Never has a player made the game look more simple and not for a while has one made England look more foolish.
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