A CANDID Tim Murtagh admitted there are whispers in the Middlesex dressing room of a first County Championship title for 20 years.

The Championship penchant has not flown from the Lord’s pavilion at the Home of Cricket since Mike Gatting’s side, complete with current Director of Cricket Angus Fraser achieved the feat back in 1993.

However, back-to-back wins over fellow contenders Sussex and Durham have Middlesex up to third in the table and back in the heart of the 2013 race.

And rather than hide behind all the normal clichés of ‘it’s early days’ and ‘one game at a time’ stalwart seamer Murtagh claimed it was appropriate for he and his team-mates to be talking of ending the 20-year drought.

He said: “I think winning the championship title is something we should be talking about in the dressing room and at least having in the back of our minds because having played as well as we have in these last two games we have put ourselves right back in the mix.

“The Durham victory is a big win in the context of the championship race. After playing so well at Sussex a couple of weeks ago it was important we backed it up with another good performance.

“Barring the first hour of the second day I think we pretty much dominated the game and it took a special performance by Onions to keep Durham in it.

“If we string another good performance together at Derby we will be right up there, so I don’t see why we would not talk about winning titles.”

Murtagh again led the victory charge in the six-wicket win over Durham in a match finished inside the first hour of day three at Lord’s.

The 32-year-old pace-man’s new-ball spell in partnership with Corey Collymore on the first morning reduced the visitors to 13-3 en route to 143 all out and though Middlesex only gained a slim first innings lead Murtagh and co then ensured the victory target was kept to 147 - a task achieved comfortably enough thanks to Eoin Morgan’s unbeaten 39.
 
Murtagh has now clocked up 47 championship wickets at an average of just 18 - more than twice the number of victims claimed by any of his team-mates.

Typically however, the former Surrey man was keen to stress the contribution of the rest of the Middlesex attack to the county’s blossoming fortunes.

He said: “I bowl with the new ball and I’m under no illusions I bowl at the best time of the innings.

“I’ve got a very strong seam attack around me and I also thought Ollie Rayner bowled very well yesterday, so we have a strong bowling unit now which compliments each other really well.”