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over 5 years ago | Player

Tim Murtagh reckons his keen duel with James Harris to top Middlesex’s wicket-taking charts is helping to keep the county’s season alive.

Murtagh, who turned 37 on Thursday, has claimed 35 County Championship victims so far this summer – just two behind team-mate Harris.

Along with fellow seamer James Fuller, the pair made key contributions to the Seaxes’ thrilling 18-run victory over Division Two leaders Warwickshire last week – a result that keeps their side just about within reach of the promotion places.

“James Harris has been magnificent from the start of the year and I think we’ve complemented each other pretty well,” said Murtagh.

“I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a healthy rivalry. We are hunting each other down and he’s a few ahead of me, so the chase is on!

“Whenever Harry gets wickets, I’m pleased for him, and I’m sure he is for me as well, but there is always that element of wanting to take the most wickets.

“I do think that’s a good thing, as long as it doesn’t lead to selfishness – but there’s certainly none of that. Nobody’s looking towards the end of the season and just drifting along.

“It’s been a tough season, but we’ve still got six Championship games to play. There’s a lot of cricket to come and a lot of points to play for.”

Murtagh and his team-mates will need to find a great deal more consistency in that final tranche of the County Championship campaign if they are to retain any hope of an immediate return to the top flight.

The Lord’s side again failed to qualify for the knockout phase of the Royal London Cup, while their Vitality Blast prospects are also looking bleak after losing five of their first seven games in the South Group.

However, that win over Warwickshire highlighted their ability to edge close contests – having also squeezed past Leicestershire by one wicket earlier in the season.

“To get over the line in a close one – against a good team we’ve had some very good battles with over the last two or three years – was exactly what the doctor ordered,” Murtagh added.

“We needed a challenge against a very good team and, at 76-7 on day one, things were looking pretty grim. It was a great effort by a lot of people to turn that game around.

“Having come through some close games – even the Championship-winning game against Yorkshire two years ago – does give you confidence when you get in those situations again.

“I think we can take a lot of heart from that. We’re under no illusions – there are elements of our game that need a lot of improving but I feel that win could prove to be massive.”

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