Ben Duckett leads the way with record hundred as England turn screw on Ireland
Ben Duckett marked his first Test innings on home soil with a chanceless and record-breaking 150 to help England reach lunch on day two on 325 for one with total control of the one-off Test with Ireland.
Duckett had closed the opening day on 60 not out but raced through to his milestone with a succession of drives to bring up his second red-ball century for his country from 106 deliveries.
In his 10th Test since his debut in Bangladesh in 2016, opener Duckett showed why he is the perfect fit for Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes’ aggressive ‘Bazball’ style to reach his 150 off the same amount of balls and in the process beat Australian great Don Bradman’s record for the quickest 150 at Lord’s.
Duckett walked off at lunch unbeaten on 161 with a strike rate of 100.62 alongside Ollie Pope, who had not been at his fluent best but played his part with 97 not out in an unbroken 216-run partnership for the second wicket and will eye his own place on the Lord’s honours board in the afternoon session.
Day one of this Ashes summer started “almost perfectly” in the words of Stuart Broad, whose five-wicket haul helped bowl Ireland out quickly after tea and saw England almost into a lead by the close.
England barely needed 15 minutes to move beyond the tourists’ total on the second day with Duckett, who had been watchful following Zak Crawley’s dismissal on Thursday night, again in fine touch.
Duckett cut the first ball of the day to the boundary and a drive straight down the ground off Graham Hume nudged England into a lead after 29.2 overs, 27 fewer than it had taken red-ball novices Ireland to reach 172.
Another drive saw Duckett move into the eighties and within sight of a second century at Lord’s this season after he hit 177 here for Nottinghamshire in April.
With Mark Adair struggling with his line and length, Duckett raced onto 99 with a cover drive and flick off his pads down to the fine leg boundary in a 35th over that brought up the hundred partnership with Pope.
The next over produced further milestones with Duckett able to celebrate three figures after he nudged into the leg side for a single to short midwicket.
Duckett held his arms aloft after he made it to a hundred from 106 deliveries, having hit 14 boundaries in a chanceless innings where the only hint of danger occurred when he raced down the wicket for a quick single before he equally rapidly turned back off Adair’s second over of the day.
With Duckett’s name on the Lord’s honours board, Pope set about joining him and reached fifty in the same over.
Pope had looked at his effortless best at the end of day one, hitting five fours to close on 29 not out off 35 balls, but was more frenetic during the first hour with the occasional play and miss married with the odd boundary down to third man that did not always look completely controlled.
Despite that, England were still rattling along at more than six runs an over with Ireland lacking the X-factor of rested seamer Josh Little following his Indian Premier League exploits.
Off-spinner Andrew McBrine and debutant Fionn Hand were tasked with stemming the flow of runs after the drinks break and while they momentarily did, Pope survived a review for lbw to close in on his own century.
The session belonged to Duckett though, who started to bring out the sweep shot and two off Hand helped him beat Bradman’s previous record of 150 off 163 deliveries during the 1930 Ashes.
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