Aug 3 2012 By Jon Batham
TWO OF the biggest hands in cricket will soon be sending opposition batsmen packing again.
That was the view of Tim Murtagh on team-mate Ollie Rayner following another costly spill by the 6ft 5’ slip fielder on day two of the clash with Warwickshire at Uxbridge.
The German-born spinner has built a reputation of having hands like buckets, catching all nicks which come his way, but the halo has slipped a bit lately.
Two catches went down against Notts in the last game at Gatting Way and Rayner spilt two more yesterday, one a routine chance at slip off an edge from Bears skipper Jim Troughton.
Murtagh was the unlucky bowler on the receiving end of the spillage, but there were no hard feelings from the Middlesex pace-man who believes Rayner is too good a fielder to spurn chances for long.
He said: “Ollie is a bit down, but he is one of the best slip fielders I’ve seen so he will come back strong from that and go again.
“He has got to tell himself he is only one catch away from coming back into form.”
Warwickshire made the most of their reprieve to move to 178-2 in reply to Middlesex’s 402 and Murtagh knows the impending arrival of the second new ball is now pivotal to Middlesex’s hopes.
He said: “We are aware the new ball is key because throughout the first two days wickets have fallen in bunches with it.
“We have got another one due in seven overs, so ideally we can nick either Westwood or Troughton out and get stuck into their middle-order.
“It will be the critical phase of the match.”
Earlier, ‘Dial M’ as he is dubbed found himself demoted to no.11 and this on his 31st birthday to boot, but made the most of his limited opportunity with 36 not out in a stand of 72 with Steven Crook for the last wicket.
Murtagh had to go back a long way into his memory bank to recall the last time he had played the role of team rabbit.
He joked: “It’s a disgrace isn’t it.
“It happened early in my career at Surrey when I was a young pup, but I haven’t batted 11 much and hopefully I won’t be again.
“But there’s no pressure on you when you are batting 11 so I had a swing today, got away with a couple and quite enjoyed it.”