TIM MURTAGH has pencilled in June 30 as the day to make his comeback from season threatening injury.
The Middlesex seamer has been out of the side since badly tearing his hamstring on the final day of the four-day game against his former county Surrey at the Oval last month.
Initially it was feared he’d need surgery and wouldn’t bowl again this year.
However, having escaped going under the knife, the man nicknamed ‘Dial M’ is targeting the return County Championship match with Surrey at Lord’s to resume his new ball duties.
He said: "I initially thought my season was over because the first doctor I saw said I’d need an operation to reattach the two tendons in my hamstring which had ripped away from my leg bone.
"But I went for a second opinion and they said the tendons should reattach themselves and I could be back in about eight weeks.
"Things have since improved quicker than I ever imagined and a championship match against Surrey as my old club is something I would never want to miss, so that’s become a bit of a target.
"I started jogging about a week ago and I’m now running at about 50-60 per cent pace and riding a bike."
Murtagh says he knew the moment the injury happened he’d done himself serious damage. And he admitted it may have been a legacy of a huge workload over the first three four-day games of the season.
He added: "I awkwardly went to field a ball and I heard something pop. I remember thinking ‘that’s not good,’ and then I went to get up and pretty much passed out.
"I think I’d bowled about 130 overs in the first three championship games because we’d been chasing victories, so spending that much time in the field might have contributed to the situation.
"But I’ve been really lucky with injuries over my career – this is about the first serious one I’ve had. I know all the other bowlers I’ve played with have been quite jealous of me, so I guess it was just my time."
On the field in Murtagh’s absence, a return to County Championship cricket seems to have revived Middlesex’s fortunes after a woeful first half of the Twenty20 campaign.
The Panthers were pushing for victory as the game entered the final day of four, with opponents Essex 79-2 needing 415 to win.
Gareth Berg (56) hit a maiden first-class half-century in the Middlesex first innings, while Murali Kartik, normally noted for his wizardry with the ball hit 62 not out, his highest score ever outside of India.
The inspired Berg (4-35) and Steven Finn (5-57) then both took career bests with the ball as Middlesex pressed for a first Championship win.