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England v Ireland

Tim Murtagh: Why isn’t he playing for Ireland anymore?

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Seven months ago, Ireland seamer Tim Murtagh retired from international cricket to continue playing for his county side Middlesex.

The right-armer, who has 100 international wickets and claimed Ireland’s maiden Test five-for against England at Lord’s last summer, was forced to make a decision between turning out for Middlesex or Ireland, as Ireland cricketers were no longer allowed play in county cricket as non-overseas players due to their recently gained status as a Full Member of the ICC. Irish county cricketers were given a two-year grace period after Ireland became a Full Member before they had to make a decision on who they’d represent. This grace period ended at the end of 2019.

There was speculation that Murtagh could continue to play both for Ireland and for the Seaxes as an overseas player but that option was closed off when the Lord’s-based side signed Australia’s Peter Handscomb.

“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,” said Murtagh at the time.

“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.”

The 38-year-old has a prolific record in county cricket – since the start of the century, no one has more first-class wickets in England than his 782.

“This is a day that I have known has been coming for a few years since the ECB changed their regulations,” added Murtagh. “But it hasn’t made the decision any easier. 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.”

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