Murtagh proved too good for England
IMAGE: Ireland’s Tim Murtagh reacts after England’s first innings. Photograph: Andrew Boyers/Reuters
If any bowler was tailor-made for a green-tinged Lord’s wicket it was Ireland seamer Tim Murtagh but even he could not have imagined writing his name on the honours board in such devastating fashion as he did on Wednesday.
The London-born 37-year-old produced one of the best spells of bowling ever seen at the old ground, taking five wickets for 13 runs in nine overs as England were skittled for 85.
Only once has a bowler taken five or more wickets against England for less runs — and the list includes the greats.
Murtagh’s spree began in his second over when he had Jason Roy caught at first slip by Paul Stirling and he barely strayed a millimetre off line throughout his overs, his modest 75mph deliveries invariably honing in on the top of off stump.
He proved too good for England, who had won the toss and batted in scorching conditions.
Next he sent opener Rory Burns packing before dismissing Jonny Bairstow and Chris Woakes for ducks in the same over, splattering Bairstow’s stumps and snaring Woakes lbw.
His fifth wicket, having Moeen Ali edging behind, put his name up on the Lord’s board — the first bowler to do so since England’s record-breaking James Anderson last summer.
Murtagh is often described as Ireland’s Anderson and on Wednesday the comparison did not look out of place — even if he is still 563 test wickets behind the Englishman’s total.
Then again this is only his, and Ireland’s, third test match.
“Not quite sure what’s happened there the last two hours, to be honest,” Murtagh, who is one of the most reliable county bowlers in England, having taken 800 first class wickets in his long career, mainly for Middlesex, said.
“It’s a dream to play here, but to get on the honours board, it’s a fantastic first session. Thought it would take longer than that. I should know how to bowl at this ground, I’ve been here long enough.”
He never usually uses the away dressing room, however, which is where his name will now be displayed.
“I didn’t think I’d be on the away board when I first started playing, but I’ll take it,” Murtagh, who is 38 next month said.
“It’s a dream for any cricketer playing a test match here, so I’m just over the moon.”