Bowler of the day
Tim Murtagh, Middlesex’s 31-year-old pace bowler, upstaged his more illustrious team-mate, Steven Finn, as they beat Derbyshire by nine wickets at Lord’s yesterday. After his side conceded a first-innings deficit of 16 to newly promoted Derbyshire, the pressure was on Middlesex’s much-vaunted pace attack. Led by Murtagh, capped for his adopted country Ireland last season, they produced. The man with the military-march of a run-up – and the memorable nickname ‘Dial M’ (you work it out) – tore through Derbyshire’s top order to finish with figures of 5 for 12 off 12 overs. Toby Roland-Jones hacked off the tail with a hat-trick but by then murderous Murtagh had inflicted the telling wounds.
Batsman of the day
Shiv Thakor, Leicestershire’s 19-year-old batting all-rounder, scored a fluent century against Kent at Grace Road, his second first-class ton in 11 matches. Big things have been expected of the local boy since he hit a hundred for the county against Surrey at Under-9 level, then followed it up with teenaged double hundreds for Loughborough Grammar and Uppingham. His youthful promise means he pips Steven Davies to the honour. The Surrey wicketkeeper, who joined Elton John’s entourage for six weeks over the winter to recharge after a harrowing year, returned to form with a stylish 147 against Somerset at The Oval.
Heaven forbid England’s leading twirler Graeme Swann fails to recover from surgery on his right elbow in time for the Ashes. But, just in case, the England management will be keeping the beadiest of eyes on James Tredwell, who proved such an effective back-up during the India ODI series. The Kent offspinner may have gone wicketless yesterday against Leicestershire but crucially conceded just 67 runs from 35 overs of bowling as tight an Ian Blackwell tank top.
Chris Adams, Surrey’s director of cricket, revealed he took an awkward phone call on the first morning of Surrey’s opening match of the season. When his mobile rang, it was the softly spoken but hard-as-kevlar Zimbabwean drawl of Andy Flower on the other end. Just like most Surrey fans, England’s team director wanted to know why on earth gigantic fast bowler Chris Tremlett was not terrorising the Somerset batsmen. “More than anything, he was just checking that he hadn’t suffered any new injury,” said Adams, diplomatically.