TIM MURTAGH’s career best against Derbyshire last week was a performance he’s dreamt about during his long injury lay off.

The Middlesex seamer only returned to action earlier this month, after two months out of the game with a severe hamstring tear suffered against former county Surrey at the Oval on May 9.

Yet it seems there is no such thing as warming up again where Murtagh is concerned.

Four wickets in the first innings in defeat to Leicester was just the prelude to 7-82 up at Derby in a game Middlesex looked likely to win until the weather intervened.

Not known as one to boast of his achievements, ‘Dial M’ as he’s called in the dressing room claimed the performance didn’t surprise him that much.

He said: "In a way I’d seen those figures coming. It was my aim all through rehab to come back and prove I was as strong and as good a bowler as before the injury.

"All the dark days of working with my fitness trainer thinking I was nowhere near fit and wondering if I’d ever be ready to return, acted as my motivation to make the most of my opportunity when I did get back on the field.

"It’s what I do – I just love bowling and playing cricket."

The 27-year-old’s perfect seven took him to 27 Championship wickets from

the five four-day games he’s played in 2009.

And he insists he’s still gunning for last year’s tally of 64 as he

attempts to help Middlesex climb off the bottom of Division Two.

"I always aim to take more wickets than I did the season before. It’s going

to be a tall order now, but I didn’t miss too much Championship cricket

during my lay-off and there are still eight games left, so I’ll be giving

it my best shot.

"I didn’t seem to lose that much rhythm while I was out, so it’s really

been about getting the psychological confidence of bowling again and

getting overs under my belt."

Next on Murtagh’s radar are Northants, visitors to Lord’s on Friday for the

start of a four-day Championship game.

The Steelbacks couldn’t be in better form, having decimated the early

season Division Two pace setters Gloucester at Cheltenham last week.

The former Surrey quick admits it’s a tough assignment in more ways than


He added: They will be coming to Lord’s full of confidence and it’s tough

to take 20 wickets at Lord’s, but we must try and capitalize on what’s a

home match for us."