If Ireland wanted a big stage for their second ever Test appearance, and their first against England, they couldn’t wish for bigger than Lord’s against a host nation still joyous after winning the Cricket World Cup. As England take stock and potentially blood three debutants, Ireland will be intent on spoiling the party over four days in north London.
ENGLAND BACK INTO RED BALL MODE AHEAD OF THE ASHES
The feel-good factor swirling around English cricket is tangible, but this four-day Test is a short second act sandwiching World Cup glory and what they hope will be a successful final act of reclaiming the Ashes urn this summer.
Expecting England to steamroll Ireland off the back of their global one-day success is a bad idea. Back to the red ball and white clothing, this is a completely different format, but still one where England hold all the cards.
That said, there are a five of the England squad who were at the forefront of their World Cup experience who have had precious little red ball action since their 2-1 series defeat in West Indies in February and March.
But if you are playing the game of which Ireland players would get into the England side, the answer is none. That is not being disrespectful to Ireland is any way, it is simply judging an embryonic Test nation against the team that played the first ever Test match way back in 1877.
IRELAND GEARED UP FOR THEIR BIGGEST MATCH
The respective Test pedigrees of the two sides may be vastly different but Ireland are the team with all the motivation. To play a match at the home of cricket in only their second ever Test is a huge occasion.
Ireland’s inaugural Test match was played against Pakistan in May 2018 in Dublin. Their early Tests come infrequently as they lay the foundations for their future at Test level. They gave Pakistan a few scares in a five-wicket defeat.
Pakistan declared their first innings on 301 for nine and bowled the Irish side out for 130. But the Ireland side showed their fight to make 339 in their second dig and gave Pakistan a few scares when they reduced them to 14 for three before the visitors managed to get across the line.
Kevin O’Brien scored 40 and 118 against Pakistan and is Ireland’s man for the big occasion. For a country best known for World Cup giant killings, O’Brien starred in the biggest shock of all. In 2011, Ireland were chasing England’s 327 and O’Brien belted a 50-ball century to steer his side to the highest successful run-chase in World Cup history. It was an astonishing day in Bangalore that paved the way for the rise to Test status and their route to Lord’s.
Ireland lost last summer’s ODI series with England 2-0, but gave England a scare in the second game, and will see this Test as a chance to further confirm their credentials at the top table of the international game.
ENGLAND COULD GIVE THREE DEBUTS
England will hand a Test debut to Jason Roy, a star of the World Cup. He potentially opens with Surrey teammate Rory Burns, but beware of betting too heavily on the one-day opener. He doesn’t open in red ball cricket and this match will provide a massive examination of his technique, mentality and patience.
Two other uncapped players have been included in the squad too, with hard-hitting Somerset all-rounder Lewis Gregory and Northamptonshire fast bowler Olly Stone potentially claiming their first Test caps.
With Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler rested, Jofra Archer given time off too, there are still some vastly experienced members of the England team, led by one of the best batsmen in the world in Joe Root. He is the Rolls Royce in the batting line-up with 6685 runs at 49.51 to his name and the obvious pick to top score. Jonny Bairstow is a contender too, but I’d steer clear from a player who has only seen the white ball recently after playing the IPL and then the World Cup.
Jimmy Anderson is fit and included and along with Chris Woakes leads the seam attack. Moeen Ali and Jack Leach are the available spinners, with Sam Curran left-arm pace and important lower order runs.
IRELAND HAVE EXPERIENCE OF ENGLISH CONDITIONS
Ireland are led by opener Will Porterfield and are likely to include one men with experience of playing Test cricket for England too. Paceman Boyd Rankin has played one Test apiece for both countries.
Middlesex’s Tim Murtagh will provide a threat with the ball and, if conditions suit at a Lord’s ground he knows well, he could cause England problems. Kevin O’Brien, Paul Stirling and Gary Wilson are two other Irishman with experience of English county cricket.
Fast bowlers Mark Adair and Craig Young could win their first Test caps after impressing for Ireland A.
Ireland too have little red ball experience and prepare for the Test with a two-day warm-up against Middlesex 2nd XI at Merchant Taylor’s School.
It’s a four-day Test and if the sun shines that would normally make a draw more likely, although plenty of Tests have not gone to day five in recent times. You are not going to get rich backing England at short odds-on prices and it’s tough to see Ireland winning. The question is, can Ireland secure a draw? Perhaps that is the value play.
- Back the draw for the value at 12/1 with Boylesports
- Back Tim Murtagh to be Top Ireland bowler at 3/1 with Boylesports
- Back Paul Stirling to be Top Ireland batsman at 7/2 with Boylesports.
*odds were correct at time of writing and are subject to change