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Tim Murtagh announces Ireland retirement, signs new Middlesex deal

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Tim Murtagh has announced his retirement from Ireland duty after signing a two-year contract extension with Middlesex. The decision, forced in part by the change to ECB regulations that would have seen him classed as an overseas player had his continued his international career, means Murtagh’s final outing in an Ireland shirt was his honours board-worthy performance in their maiden Test at Lord’s.

Murtagh, 38, has instead committed to Middlesex, where he has taken almost 1000 wickets since moving from Surrey in 2007. He was first capped by Ireland in 2012, qualifying through his Irish grandparents, and went on to feature in all three formats, delivering their first ball as a Test nation at Malahide last year.

However, with Ireland’s rise to Test status came the ECB’s decision to revoke their status as non-overseas players. With that rule due to come into effect from next summer, Murtagh has lived up to his word after telling Middlesex’s director of cricket, Angus Fraser, that he would stick with the county if required to make the choice. Several Irish players have been forced to give up county contracts in recent times, including Paul Stirling at Middlesex.

“This is a day that I have known has been coming for a few years since the ECB changed their regulations, but it hasn’t made the decision any easier,” Murtagh said. “I’ve had eight great years playing international cricket and loved every minute of it. It’s sad that it has come to an end but a decision that I have made my peace with.

“I made a promise to Angus Fraser when I first started playing international cricket that if I ever had to make a choice between playing for Ireland or rewarding Middlesex for the commitment they’d shown to me over the years, that I would commit to finishing my playing days at Lord’s.

“Having been a member of the Middlesex family for over a decade now, I believe that with the additions we’ve made over the winter, we have one of the most promising squads here now that I’ve ever been a part of.

“I wouldn’t have committed my future to Middlesex unless I felt that the club shared my ambition to win trophies and we have a huge amount of young talent here to drive us forwards towards that goal. Under the new coaching regime, we’ve got a harmonious dressing room that is excited for the new season to get underway and a new captain that everyone is keen to impress.”

Murtagh made his T20I and ODI debuts within a few days of each other in July 2012, although his hopes of playing at the 2015 World Cup were dashed by a foot injury. He was part of the 2016 World T20 team, before making three Test appearances as Ireland rose to Full Member status at the ICC.

Each of them were memorable: he opened the bowling against Pakistan in 2018, taking six wickets as Ireland briefly threatened an upset; against Afghanistan, in Dehradun, he scored a maiden Test fifty batting at No. 11; and then at Lord’s earlier this year, his five-wicket haul saw England dismissed before lunch on the first day, although Ireland then collapsed themselves in the second innings as the wait for a first Test win went on.

“On behalf of the management and staff of Cricket Ireland I’d like to thank Tim for his eight years of service to Irish cricket,” Cricket Ireland’s performance director, Richard Holdsworth, said. “It only seems like the other day that we were organising the paperwork to allow him to declare for Ireland – while you always hope for the best when opportunities like that arise, little did we know the impact he would have on the international setup.

“Irish cricket has been on quite a journey over the last decade, and Tim has certainly played a key role in our rise. That the Lord’s Test will be his last game for us is very appropriate, and he certainly gave a lot of Irish fans great pleasure on that first morning having written his name on the honours board before lunch.

“We know how hard the decision was for him, but we wish Tim, Karina and his family well. I would also like to thank Angus Fraser and all at Middlesex Cricket for their support and flexibility in working with us on Tim’s availability for internationals and tours. Cricket Ireland and Middlesex have had a great relationship over many years, and it is always appreciated when club and country can work so well together for the benefit of the player.”

Murtagh is set to play on into his 40s with Middlesex, with the club aiming to push for promotion in the Championship next season. Middlesex finished a disappointing eighth in Division Two in 2019, with Dawid Malan resigning the captaincy and subsequently moving to Yorkshire; they will be led next year by Australia batsman Peter Handscomb.

Middlesex’s head coach, Stuart Law, said: “To have Murts commit to Middlesex for the future is really great news for the club. It has been a tough decision for him no doubt, but we are looking forward to seeing him continue to provide the team with quality and experience.

“A vital member of our squad, both on and off the field, I look forward to working with him again in 2020.”



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PSL franchises seek legal action against PCB over financial model of league

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All six Pakistan Super League (PSL) franchises have collectively sought legal action in a bid to force the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to change the financial model of the league. They have submitted a law suit in the Lahore High Court over the long-running dispute because the franchises claim the PSL is making the PCB richer while the franchises are running losses every season. The petition asked the court to direct the PCB to “formally redress the grievances of all franchises” and “revise the model of PSL in accordance with its statutory mandate and make it financially viable”.

The PSL is now entangled in legal disputes with two of its major stakeholders: the broadcast-rights holder and now the six franchises. The PCB had last week terminated the contract of PSL’s international media-rights holder, Techfront, citing a series of breaches, including matters relating to payments. At the same time the PCB is also in arbitration against PSL’s local media-right holders – Blitz – who went to court for a stay order against the board’s move to cash in an insurance guarantee from the broadcaster (held as security for the deal) of PKR 1 billion.

More to follow…



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Kings XI Punjab vs Royal Challengers Bangalore, IPL 2020 – Rolling Report

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All the buzz from the game between KL Rahul’s Kings XI Punjab and Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore



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All-round Sophie Molineux delivers warm-up win for Australia after Sophie Devine cuts loose

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Australian XI 8 for 247 (Mooney 80 ret, Molineux 57, Haynes 54) beat New Zealand XI 236 (Devine 89, Satterthwaite 48, Molineux 5-29) by 11 runs

Super Over New Zealand XI 1 for 13 beat Australia XI 0 for 8 by five runs

Sophie Molineux produced a fine all-round display, scoring a half-century and taking five wickets, as Australia held on for an 11-run win in a 40-over warm-up match against New Zealand with Sophie Devine‘s powerful 89 not quite enough for the visitors as they prepared for the T20I series which begins on Saturday.

However, it remains uncertain if Ellyse Perry, who is on the comeback trail from a severe hamstring injury, will be fit to return for the start of the series having sat out today’s match although she did train in the adjacent nets.

Molinuex (57 off 60 balls) was one of three players to make half-centuries for the Australians in their 8 for 247 with Beth Mooney top-scoring with 80 and Rachael Haynes making 54 after both Alyssa Healy and Meg Lanning had departed early during an impressive spell from Holly Huddleston.

Twice in the chase New Zealand appeared on course, first when Devine and Amy Satterthwaitethe latter playing her first innings since returning from maternity leave – added 90 for the third wicket and again when they were 6 for 220 with five overs to go before the lower order was undone by Molineux and Molly Strano.

Molineux, who finished with 5 for 29, claimed the key wickets of both Satterthwaite and Devine, who was about to be retired to give others a bat, while the recalled Belinda Vakarewa claimed 2 for 31 by removing both openers.

The day had started well for New Zealand when Huddleston castled both Healy and Lanning with excellent deliveries. The home side recovered through a stand of 69 between Haynes, who needed just 45 balls for her 54, and Mooney before Molineux joined for a 103-run fourth-wicket partnership.

Mooney was retired out on 80 and the innings fell away somewhat in the latter overs as Amelia Kerr and Lea Tahuhu claimed a brace each.

Following the main match, the two sides took part in a Super Over which the New Zealanders managed to win as Tahuhu defended 13 against Healy and Haynes. Satterthwaite had struck her one delivery for six.

“Thought it was a really good hit out, not often you play a warm-up against the Australian team,” Suzie Bates said. “In the first game for six months it was really nice to get a bit of a bowl and good for Amy Satterthwaite to bat really nicely. It would have been nice from the position we were in to finish it and get one up early, but it was one of those games that it wasn’t until the end when it got close that it got really serious.”



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