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Timís got Twenty20 vision

Tim Murtagh is determined to bring a little Twenty20 know-how into the Middlesex camp - and has set his sights on causing an upset against his former club Surrey on Friday.

The 25-year-old seamer joined Middlesex from their cross-town rivals earlier this year, and will make his first return to the Oval in Friday's Twenty20 curtain-raiser.

While Middlesex have traditionally struggled in the game's most abbreviated form, winning just one game last year, Murtagh sees no reason why the club cannot reach the standards set by Surrey, who have never failed to reach the competition's final four.

"For some reason Middlesex haven't really performed in the Twenty20 format so far, which I have always struggled to understand because we have some excellent players here," said Murtagh, who has established himself as one of the format's most prolific bowlers.

"It's a format that I have always enjoyed, and had some success with, so hopefully I can translate some of the that to the Middlesex team."

Middlesex continue their travels in the eight-game group stage with a match against Hove on Sunday, before hosting Shane Warne's Hampshire at Southgate on Monday.

But for Murtagh, his first task will be to prevent Surrey's big hitting openers James Benning and Alistair Brown from cutting loose.

"That's going to be a big challenge," said Murtagh, who expects to be fit to take the new ball on Friday.

"When I was at Surrey, we held the view that the team who hits the most sixes generally wins the game, and those two certainly have the ability to clear the boundary."

"They will always give the bowler a chance though. Twenty20 is all about maintaining your calmness as a bowler.

"You have to keep your cool even if you have been hit for four fours in an over. It's about producing a good ball when the pressure is on and putting that pressure back onto the batsman."

Murtagh demonstrated that ability to produce when it matters most two years ago, when he coolly hit the stumps in a bowl-out against Warwickshire which saw the Brown Caps through to the semi-finals.

After sealing the victory, the normally laid-back Murtagh embarked on a football-style shirtless lap of honour.

"I have taken a bit of stick for that in the past and I don't see myself doing it again - maybe if something extraordinary happens!"

Usually, Middlesex's own batsmen are among the most feared in the game, with several England internationals among their ranks, but in the past, translating that talent to Twenty20 has been difficult.

"We'll be expecting Owais Shah to hit a few sixes, and there is a chance that he will open the batting with Tyron Henderson, who is apparently a very big hitter," said Murtagh.

Nicknamed 'The Blacksmith' on account of his ability to score and bowl rapidly, Henderson arrives from South African side Warriors, and has represented his country at Twenty20 level.

He will take over from Chaminda Vaas, who has returned to Sri Lanka until the end of July, while the emphasis will be on Murtagh to maintain his steady form with the ball.

"I've really enjoyed my time at Middlesex so far. I've been playing in all forms of cricket, which I never really managed to do at Surrey, and I feel we are making strides as a team," said Murtagh, who has been impressed by Ed Smith's captaincy.

"Personally I get on very well with him. He's a laid-back guy who thinks very deeply about the game, and his calmness spreads around the dressing room. He gives us every reason to feel confident.

source - hornseyjournal.co.uk
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