Ireland news June 15, 2012

Australia can be first upset of many - Murtagh


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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Peter 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.

  • Geoffrey 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..

  • Andrew 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.

  • Deccan 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?

  • Anupam 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.

  • Claire 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.

  • Peter 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.

  • Randolph on June 17, 2012, 13:30 GMT

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

  • Anupam 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.

  • John 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.

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