England openers shine after Stuart Broad takes five on first day against Ireland
Ben Duckett and Zak Crawley wasted little time getting back into the groove for England with a century stand against Ireland at Lord’s in what proved to be a near-perfect first day to an eagerly anticipated Test summer for the hosts.
Both openers scored fifties and played true to the aggressive ‘Bazball’ style that has taken the nation by storm since Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum took over the red-ball team last summer.
England finished the opening day of this one-off Test on 151 for one and only 20 runs behind Ireland, who were dismissed for 172 at the start of the evening session thanks to Stuart Broad’s first five-wicket haul at Lord’s in 10 years.
Broad ripped through Ireland’s top order during the first hour with a trio of scalps to reduce the tourists to 19 for three before Paul Stirling played fire with fire in an entertaining knock of 30.
Ireland opener James McCollum backed him up with 36 and all-rounder Curtis Campher chipped in with 33, but Broad would not be denied his chance to go on the Lord’s honours board and finished with five for 51 off 17 overs after good support by Jack Leach and Matthew Potts.
All eyes were then on Crawley, who kicked off an enormous two months for England with a punch through cover for four off his second ball.
It was a sign of things to come with the fifty partnership brought up after 7.2 overs and Duckett happy to cut away to the boundary on his first Test innings on home soil.
After a slight lull of 28 balls without a boundary, Crawley produced four fours from his next six balls but three were via the inside edge with the heavily scrutinised Kent batter not as fluent as his fellow opener.
Duckett beat his partner to a half-century off 53 balls with two runs down to third man during a milestone 16th over that also saw Crawley reach fifty, from 39 deliveries, with a sumptuous cover drive.
The hundred partnership was also brought up in that Mark Adair over but, in the next, the opening stand was ended when Ireland Test debutant Fionn Hand produced a stunning caught and bowled to see off Crawley for 56.
Nottinghamshire’s Duckett remained undeterred and finished the day 60 not out after England’s new vice-captain Ollie Pope helped himself to a breezy 29 not out at a sun-soaked Lord’s.
England’s start to the day had not been smooth sailing with their arrival from the team’s Kensington hotel delayed by five minutes due to Just Stop Oil protesters but once Stokes had put Ireland into bat, Broad quickly set about trying to get his name on the honours board.
In the absence of rested duo James Anderson and Ollie Robinson, the Nottinghamshire seamer relished the chance to lead the attack and produced a fine opening spell of three for 14 from five overs.
Broad had to wait until his 14th delivery to make the breakthrough but Peter Moor was pinned in front lbw for 10 and his next over produced even more drama.
Ireland captain Andrew Balbirnie edged to second slip, where Crawley took an excellent low catch diving to his left and Harry Tector followed his skipper back to the pavilion two balls later.
Tector inexplicably flicked straight to Potts at leg slip, which saw Broad produce his trademark shocked face in celebration but he was denied a hat-trick opportunity when an lbw decision against Stirling was overturned on review after ball-tracker showed it was missing leg stump.
It enabled Stirling to lead a mini-recovery and he put on 45 with opener McCollum, but Leach ended the fun of the former Middlesex batter for 30 after another attempted sweep flicked off his glove and gave Jonny Bairstow a simple first catch behind the stumps since replacing Ben Foakes.
After making it to lunch on 78 for four, Broad ended McCollum’s hard-fought 36 off 108 deliveries when he edged to Joe Root at first slip before Campher took the fight to England despite being hit on the helmet by England debutant Josh Tongue.
It saw Ireland make it through a second session but Broad claimed his 20th Test five-wicket haul after tea when he hit the top of Adair’s off-stump.
Leach had provided able support and finished with three for 35 after the dismissals of Lorcan Tucker and Campher before Potts brought the tourists’ first innings to an end when Hand edged behind to Bairstow in the 57th over.
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