TIM MURTAGH is to be put into cold storage at Middlesex this week to save him for the county’s assault on a first County Championship title in 20 years.
That was the word from Director of Cricket Angus Fraser this week as he indicated the Seaxes’ leading red-ball wicket taker would be rested from their upcoming trio of YB40 fixtures beginning with the visit of the Unicorns to Lord’s on Sunday.
Murtagh turned 32 on the first day of the six-wicket win over Durham which lifted Middlesex to third place in the standings.
Five wickets in the victory took the pace-man’s tally for the season to 47, more than twice that of any of his team-mates.
With Toby Roland-Jones and James Harris poised to return to the fray after injury it is little wonder Fraser is keen to save his talisman for four-day duties.
He said: “I think we probably will wrap Tim up in cotton wool and save him for the Championship push.
“We have got Toby and James Harris whose return to fitness has been geared for them to start playing at the weekend against the Unicorns.
“They will play in the seconds at Radlett on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, so we will have a full entourage of fast bowlers to pick from and that will allow Tim Murtagh to have a rest and save himself for red-ball cricket which he is magnificent at.”
Given his international ambitions with Ireland, a rest from three crucial 40-over affairs might not be the best news Murtagh has had all season.
He confesses he is probably a victim of his own red-ball success, but while he would love to be involved all the time he admits the rotation has probably left feeling stronger ahead of the final push for glory than in previous years.
He said: “Possibly I am my own worst enemy when it comes to one-day cricket in that my four-day form means our selectors might want to make sure I’m fit to bowl in Championship stuff.
“However, that also comes with having a strong squad as well and wanting to give as much opportunity to everyone as we can.
“I’ve always said I want to be playing one-day cricket and that my record in it is pretty good, but the breaks I have been given have kept me rested and fresh considering it is August now.
Playing or watching Murtagh knows with Middlesex playing catch up on leaders Somerset in YB40 Group C they have no wriggle room if they want to reach the semi-finals.
He added: “We are probably one win behind where we would like to be at this point of the competition.
“We have got The Unicorns first up and hopefully we should put in a strong performance against them.
“Then there are two crucial games against Glamorgan and Gloucester and if we win those three we are right back in it.”