Friday 28 April 2017

Another boost for Ireland as Murtagh ends T20 retirement

Tim Murtagh prepares to bowl during the ICC InterContinental Cup, Ireland v United Arab Emirates at Malahide Cricket Club in June this year (SPORTSFILE)
Tim Murtagh prepares to bowl during the ICC InterContinental Cup, Ireland v United Arab Emirates at Malahide Cricket Club in June this year (SPORTSFILE)

Tim Murtagh is set to give Ireland another early Christmas present by making himself available for the World T20 in March after reversing his decision to retire from the shortest form of the international game.

The 34-year-old Middlesex seam bowler missed the World T20 qualifiers last summer as he looked to manage his workload but as reported in the Irish Independent in July, he always had one eye on the showpiece tournament in India.

At the time, he said: "It's a case of never say never. If the opportunity was there and Ireland wanted me, then I'd have to give it serious thought - and I'd probably say yes."

With Boyd Rankin confirming his return to Ireland colours earlier this week, coach John Bracewell's fast bowling cupboard is not looking anywhere near as bare as it did earlier in the month when John Mooney announced his retirement.

A week ago, Bracewell was looking at an opening attack of Craig Young, a promising but still raw seamer, now he has Rankin back with Murtagh to follow and Ireland have a line-up capable of upsetting favourites Bangladesh in the qualifying round.

Rankin's return, after a three-year sojourn with England that included a lone Test cap against Australia in early 2014, has been greeted enthusiastically by Irish fans on social media but it comes at a cost to Cricket Ireland.

The 31-year-old from Tyrone cannot change his allegiance again. The England and Wales Cricket Board rewards counties for fielding "England-qualified" players, so every time Rankin appears for Warwickshire it will cost his employers a significant bonus payment - which in turn will be some way compensated by Cricket Ireland.

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