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Australia can be first upset of many - Murtagh

Daniel Brettig

June 15, 2012

Comments: 28 | Text size: A | A

Tim Murtagh appeals successfully for the crucial wicket of Ricky Ponting as Middlesex took control, Middlesex v Australians, Tour Match, Lord's, June 19, 2010
Tim Murtagh dismissed Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke when the touring Australians played Middlesex in 2010 © PA Photos

As a travelling spectator during the last Ashes series, Tim Murtagh watched James Anderson's dismantling of Australia's batting with no little awe. Called up to play for Ireland against the Australians in an ODI in Belfast on June 23, Murtagh now has the chance to emulate Anderson - and he has happy memories of a past meeting with Michael Clarke and company to aid his search for wickets.

Murtagh, 30, qualified for Ireland via his grandparents, leaving the move until a point in his career when he knew that an England call-up was out of the question. He had played for England at Under-19s level in 1999 but his medium-fast swing and seam has not caught the attention of the ECB since. England's oversight is Ireland's gain, at a time when Murtagh feels he is putting the ball more or less where he wants to.

"I played Under-19s and I had no contact or been selected for any squad after that, so my chance is gone now, it probably disappeared a few years ago," Murtagh told ESPNcricinfo. "They're a very strong team, but certainly having grown up through the age groups, starting at Surrey and moving to Middlesex, I had ambitions to play for England. But it's obvious they didn't want to utilise my services, so the Ireland thing came in. I probably should've done it a few years ago if I'm honest. It'll be a great opportunity to play international cricket.

"I'm a much better bowler now than I was four or five years ago … all bowlers get to a certain stage where you start to know your game a lot better than you did as a youngster and just feel more confident because of that. Over the last few weeks my bowling has felt in really good rhythm, so hopefully leading into that Australia game I'm peaking at the right time. The last couple of years I've bowled better than at any stage of my career, so that's some confidence I can take into the game in Belfast."

Murtagh's interest in the England team extended to a visit to Australia for the Ashes of 2010-11, where he watched Anderson intently. Clarke, Ricky Ponting and others struggled to counter Anderson's swing and accuracy, leaving Murtagh with hope that he could do something similar on what may prove to be a seaming Stormont pitch, given the rain that has drenched the UK and Ireland so far this summer. Murtagh is also bolstered by a tour match during Australia's 2010 ODI visit, in which he deceived Clarke and Ponting and returned a snappy 3 for 43.

"Any time you get Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke, guys like that out, it sticks in your memory," Murtagh said. "It was a game I enjoyed. It was their first game in England for that ODI tour and they were a little rusty, and hopefully it will be more of the same [this time]. The Aussies will have come from back home from a series in the Caribbean, so it'll take them some time to adjust back to English conditions and hopefully that's something we can exploit in the game in Belfast.

"They're world-class players, but if we can catch them a little bit on the hop, it does take time to get used to conditions, especially with the amount of rain and dampness we've had around in the early part of summer, it might just take them a little bit of time to get used to that. We'll have a team meeting and go through specific plans to all these guys, we've been sent footage of all the players from Cricket Ireland just to have a look through and start thinking about it."

Ireland's summer is building towards the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka, but there is also the 2015 World Cup beyond. Murtagh said the team he had joined in camp in Dubai earlier this year was growing from a group "punching above their weight" to one that will become a genuine international force. The match against Australia will provide a useful measure of that growth.

"The last few years watching them, they've punched above their weight and taken down some pretty big scalps in world cricket," Murtagh said. "I think now having spent a bit of time out with them in Dubai, they've got some genuinely top-class players. I know from first-hand experience Paul Stirling, who's at Middlesex as well, is I think one of the best T20 players going around at the moment and I'd be very surprised if someone doesn't snap him up in the IPL in years to come.

"We've got two games against Afghanistan in the summer as well, after the Australia game, and the points in those games will go towards that 2015 World Cup. Those are two very important games. Irish cricket wants to compete on the biggest stage now, qualifying for the T20 in Sri Lanka later this year is a massive thing, but that tournament in 2015 will be a massive thing as well. There's some genuine top-class players that can perhaps prove a few people wrong and provide a few upsets in the years to come."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by Chris_P on (June 18, 2012, 14:26 GMT)

@Meety. Not cynical, that is the exact reason. How any team can enter test status without a decent frist class structure defies logic. And the results confirm it. Unfortunately, there has been almost zero progress on the development of a fc structure so any dreams of competitive Bangladesh in tests, are, unfortuneatly at the moment, just dreams.

Posted by Hammond on (June 18, 2012, 9:00 GMT)

@RandyOZ- you are absolutely right mate. Australia are not anywhere near England. And they are about to find that out. Get your excuses ready..

Posted by Meety on (June 18, 2012, 2:13 GMT)

@jmchilinney - there is also the arguement (cynical one) whereby Bangladesh's promotion to Test status had absolutely nothing to do with sporting ability, rather another vote in the Boardroom. The Bangas promotion was handled badly, it should of been more like Zimbabwe's readmittance has been handled. A lower volume of tests & let their domestic structure create the talent over time. I think the Bangas have a come a lot further their than record suggests, I think most of their current problems are behind the scenes. As for Ireland, I have seen the articles on their push for test status, I remember during or just after the last W/C Trent Johnston (the Ozzy bowler) said that they weren't ready for tests. I would rather they get a provisional test status, whereby they played the lower ranked nations in one off tests. I don't believe it would warp the integrity of Tests the way the Bangas entry did.

Posted by Tamimfan on (June 17, 2012, 19:57 GMT)

Its quite hilarious how people are comparing bigger teams WI & NZ to the levels of Zimbabwe, Ireland and Bangladesh. There is a huge margin of potential between the Test sides and the minnows that you are comparing them with. Agreed Ireland can surprise a team or two once in a while but that doesn't mean they are as good as WI or NZ. And someone is saying Ireland will beat India in Tests.. Haha. was that meant to be funny or is it just over-optimism?

Posted by AKS286 on (June 17, 2012, 18:54 GMT)

@fourworldcups i agree buddy but Oz team played against WI where WIN is the universal truth, SL was facing the badest day ever on test. SA is appreciable. beer is better than lyon. beer bowling definately looks like the next spinner of Oz but clarke's favorite is LYON. beer must get a chance in sub- continent. and adam voges must get a permanent place in Oz team.

Posted by Fourworldcups on (June 17, 2012, 15:22 GMT)

@AKS286 . IRL could possibly beat this current WI side in the UK, but it would still be highly unlikely. I agree with your opinion on the Katich axing, but I'm not sure if you've been following Aus closely over the last 12 months in Tests. We won in SL and WI, drew in SA, and the newer bowlers played a significant part in that. Agree on the spin issue, but Lyon has been managing quite well since coming into the side, both home and away.

Posted by Chris_P on (June 17, 2012, 14:39 GMT)

Tim Murtagh may have watched the Ashes tests down under, but I seriously doubt he was around for the ODI's where Australia won 6-1. If he thinks the English seamers set the tone, he is for a huge disappointment. Of course, on any given day, the minnows can win the odd game, but overall will be lagging in the debit. Agree with jmcilhinney, a warm up hame. That said, any international exposure can only be of benefit to Ireland & they have appeared to be planning their entry into tests with unblinkered vision & meticulous planning. They will not be embarrassed in the manner the Bangers have been in tests.

Posted by RandyOZ on (June 17, 2012, 13:30 GMT)

It's funny how Ireland think they have a chance, we are no England.

Posted by AKS286 on (June 17, 2012, 6:25 GMT)

@fourworldcups IRiSH team will definately beat WI no doubt on that. and all the teams which i've mentioned are test killers. and why you mention IND i don't understand . one more thing EXCEPT WI every team is stronger at home. and only SA & Oz are the teams who perform all over the world. Oz secondly because current Oz team is still not tested outside.Oz team is having 3 major problems. 1st thanks to M. Clarke opening pair as he axe katich, 2nd young pace bowlers very promising but in the home. 3rd a international spinner.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (June 17, 2012, 5:27 GMT)

I think that, realistically, Australia are looking at this as a warm-up game for the England series. Some may point to Ireland's WC victory as evidence that Ireland can be as good as England and, on their day, there's no doubt that they can. Does anyone realistically believe that Ireland could have beaten Pakistan 4-0 in UAE though (even if they probably could have batted as well as England in the Tests)? Ireland are making progress but have a ways to go. I don't see why they couldn't provide more tour games, both ODI and FC, to other nations touring England though. I'm not sure whether ECB have a specific objection to this but it seems like a good idea to me. If touring teams played the Lions and Ireland then it would provide good experience on one side and good competition on the other.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (June 17, 2012, 5:20 GMT)

@Meety on (June 17 2012, 01:56 AM GMT), from what I've read, the ICC think that maybe they were a bit premature in giving Bangladesh Test status and they want to avoid the same mistake again. The lack of their own FC comp is seen as one of the main issues in both cases. Ireland know this and have plans in the works for their own FC comp. The Irish board are looking at gaining Test status by 2020, which is more realistic than many calls for it to happen now on these boards. That said, running their own FC comp might not be all it's cracked up to be. More Irish players will get FC exposure but the overall standard will be lower than in the English comp, so it will be a step backwards for the top players. You're right about the Eng/Ire relationship. I don't think Ireland would be where they are today without English county cricket. Not sure that Bangaldesh had anything similar with India or the like, even though India seemed to support their Test status.

Posted by Meety on (June 17, 2012, 1:56 GMT)

@PunchDrunkPunter - such an informed decision! So well balanced - not! @r0ketman - I would love to see Ireland get test status, but why that means a dig at the Bangas on the way is beyond me! @jmchilhinney - not sure if it is chicken or the egg, but I didn't think you could have a FC comp, without test status, or is it that not having a FC comp mean you can't? There is an obvious link, & Ireland can do a lot more, atm though as you would know they have a symbiotic relationship with the ECB which sorts of is a double edged sword, but means their players can better quality contests than most Test nations get! == == == IMO - Bangladesh, all things considered, are a better team in ODIs & Tests than Ireland. That being said, Ireland are far stronger & better equipped for International battle than Bangladesh were in 2000. I can't see why Ireland couldn't get LIMITED test esposure, one off tests against teams touring England, say Zim, Bang & WI & NZ???? Toe in the water?

Posted by redneck on (June 17, 2012, 0:46 GMT)

australia need to come out and blow the irish away! start building momentum as they probably lost a bit over in the west indies. ireland are the best of the minnows but you first 15 comments are seriously deluded if you think that ireland will get anywhere near aus in this match!!! @PunchDrunkPunter you do know this is a ODI match nothing to do with tests and the ashes? you would also remember the 2 6-1 floggings the aussies gave the poms in the ODIs that followed the ashes?

Posted by whatawicket on (June 16, 2012, 20:00 GMT)

course they can beat them. not many of this aussie squad that got them to the #1 position

Posted by jmcilhinney on (June 16, 2012, 18:53 GMT)

@huttse96 on (June 16 2012, 08:00 AM GMT), all the infrastructure and programs in place? Ireland don't have a first class competition yet, so how can you possibly say that? Some will point to the fact that Bangladesh didn't either when they were awarded Test status but some others will say that that just proves the point. It was too soon to make Bangladesh a Test nation and it's too soon for Ireland too. Just look at Eoin Morgan's performance in the England Test team, and he's considered one of Ireland's best, if not the best, batsman. One of Ireland's greatest triumphs was their WC win against England but how often do you think an innings like Kevin O'Brien's, which is the main reason they won, will be possible in Test cricket?

Posted by jmcilhinney on (June 16, 2012, 18:48 GMT)

@Avinash Singh on (June 16 2012, 08:58 AM GMT), it's exactly because Bangladesh didn't really justify their having been awarded Test status with results that the ICC are reticent to award Test status to Ireland. Some good results in ODIs and T20s is a long way from being competitive in Test cricket. Just look at the current WI team and how much more competitive they are in the shorter formats. The last thing the ICC wants is another easy-beat in Test cricket because that won't do the image of Test cricket any good.

Posted by Fourworldcups on (June 16, 2012, 17:46 GMT)

@AKS286 - Really? REALLY? I think Ireland would initially get hammered by everyone in Tests except for Zim and India.

Posted by AKS286 on (June 16, 2012, 14:37 GMT)

IRISH TEAM for international test. definitely beat WI, Bang, Zim , Pak, Nz.

Posted by HatsforBats on (June 16, 2012, 10:17 GMT)

Every team has its day; Bangladesh famously beat Australia in 2005. Even if they aren't as good as they were, Australia is still ranked no.1 and have the results to prove it. It will be great to see cricket continue to advance & develop in the non-test playing countries, hopefully with test status an eventual fitting reward. As an aside, comparing Murtagh to Anderson is a bit of wishful thinking; right now, Jimmy is the best in the world

Posted by   on (June 16, 2012, 8:58 GMT)

It is sad that Ireland who have performed relatively better than many International ODI teams like Bangladesh or Zimbabwe... have not been given the stage to perform beyong ICC events!! which brings serious doubts as to how serious is ICC about promoting Cricket!! Bangladesh got the test status immediately after their 1st world cup appearance and since then it has taken them a decade to be taken seriously... Ireland had much better prospect, had it been given the chance like Bangladesh did!! Ireland should be invited by other test playing nation for tri series or bi lateral series which will give them a lot of experience and help them put their case strongly!

Posted by Winsome on (June 16, 2012, 8:01 GMT)

It would be their best chance to win. The Aussies are not a particularly strong ODI unit now. Good luckk to 'em.

Posted by huttse96 on (June 16, 2012, 8:00 GMT)

Ireland are amongst 6 minnows nations with a serious and realistic ODI future (Ireland, Afghanistan, Scotland, Netherlands, PNG and Nepal) if they do well in this match and the 2012 & 2014 20/20 and 2015 ODI CWC's. I dont see why they shoudnt be given Test status. Ireland have all the infrastructure and programs in place, its time the ICC reward them with Test status. Also more ODI's are needed for associate and affiliate nations if the ICC seriously wants to grow the game they will realise that this is a must to grow the game and give these nations experience, it will then make the world cup more competitive to. None the less best of luck to Ireland and hopefully test status is rewarded to them soon. :)

Posted by   on (June 16, 2012, 6:37 GMT)

How many times Ireland has beaten Bangladesh??? Bangladesh beat them many times.plz dont compare Ireland with BD team.Ireland is a minnow team,Bangladesh is far far better than Ireland.Ireland should not get Iest status.If they will get,that will definitely harm for da cricket

Posted by Tamimfan on (June 16, 2012, 0:11 GMT)

Boyd Rankin has already made it to ENGLAND LIONS team and is tipped to get his chance for England. Unfortunately he is injured and that's why he's not in the team. Its great for Ireland to have somebody as experienced as Murtagh come into their team.. I think this Irish team will give a hard time for the Aussies and prove to undeserving teams like Bangladesh that they deserve the Test status.

Posted by PunchDrunkPunter on (June 15, 2012, 23:17 GMT)

Murtagh and Rankin are a stronger new ball pairing than anything Australia can put out based on the last 2 Ashes series!

Posted by   on (June 15, 2012, 19:02 GMT)

Ireland deserves to get test status Cricket is popular in Ireland and they really should be given test status rigth away within 1-2 years time

Posted by   on (June 15, 2012, 18:44 GMT)

As long as Ireland can win this then they have a bright future ahead of them.

Posted by NAZMO-CRICKFANN on (June 15, 2012, 18:11 GMT)

yes, go em ireland.. i'm backing you

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Daniel BrettigClose
Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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