Having shown their very worst, England produce their very best
One regular day of Lord’s. That’s all I ask for. Will never happen.
If Wednesday’s morning session was a ludicrously exaggerated caricature of England at their very worst, today provided similarly far-fetched extreme example of England at their best.
For Ireland, utter heartbreak. It’s tempting to describe this as a lesson in the cruelties of Test cricket, but even Test cricket is rarely as harsh as this. For most of the previous two days, Ireland had been the better side. It was all reduced to nought in 94 balls.
But just as England should fret less about the 85 all out than the second-innings collapse from 171/1 to 248/8 so too Ireland may come to look back at the addition of a mere 80 runs after taking tea on day one at 127/2 in their first innings.
Not only did their post-cuppa capitulation rob them of the opportunity for utter dominance on the scoreboard, it would ultimately condemn them to being thoroughly on the wrong end of conditions for the final two days. Bowling in Thursday’s broiling heat and batting under heavy, dark, low clouds between the showers on Friday. Inevitably, the sun came out for William Porterfield’s post-match interview.
England, having spent two days doing spectacularly England things, made no change to that plan today. While the batting so often and so understandably takes the plaudits, one of this great comedy side’s finest comedy bits remains their ability to lurch from mesmerizingly unplayable with the new ball to infuriatingly wasteful.
In keeping with the match’s overall arc, England produced the goods at both extremes. Profligate and wasteful on Wednesday – unforgivably so having just been treated to a masterclass from Tim Murtagh and Mark Adair (who was the biggest positive of all for Ireland during these two-and-a-bit days) – and outrageous today.
Stuart Broad had one of those Stuart Broad days that come when for whatever reason he is suddenly and consistently able to pitch the ball up and make it dance. He was only denied an astonishing eighth five-wicket haul from a single Test spell by Chris Woakes having an even more Chris Woakes day.
The biggest disappointment of the first innings, he put that spectacularly right with 6/17 here to join Murtagh in not only going on the Honours Board but doing so with eye-catchingly outrageous figures.
Like Murtagh, Woakes at his best is an absolute Lord’s grandmaster. He now has 24 wickets in four Tests here at an average below 10, and 54 wickets at north of 40 in his other 23. Woakes also averages 68 at Lord’s with the bat. In keeping with the bizarro upside-down world in which England now operate, it would make perfectly reasonable sense to leave him out of the first Ashes Test at his home ground next week yet be utter madness not to recall him for the second at HQ.
Manipulating the ball this way and that under the floodlights, Woakes asked questions to which Ireland’s batsmen simply had no answer. In that, there was no disgrace. Plenty of sides would have been staring at 40/5 in these conditions against that bowling. Australia are one of them. England another.
It was a timely reminder that whatever is wrong with the batting, England possess the bowling to keep them in almost any game as thoughts turn decisively to the Ashes. Olly Stone was mighty impressive in the first innings yet not required here; Sam Curran has a golden arm. James Anderson and Jofra Archer both exist.
With Australia showing their own hand by naming seven fast bowlers (albeit of mixed pace and ability) and no second frontline spinner in their Ashes squad, day three and day four ticket-holders are entitled to be nervous.
But at least England have the Ashes to look forward to. For Ireland, this chance will not come around again for at least four years. Shamefully, there are no more Tests against England in the current Future Tours Programme and only seven altogether in the next four years now Zimbabwe are out of the equation.
With Ireland’s players soon to find the county cricket door closed, the challenge for Irish cricket is to become a capable Test side while feeding on scraps. That;s likely to prove every bit as testing as facing Chris Woakes and Stuart Broad under oppressive Lord’s skies.
Liam Livingstone praises England spinner Rehan Ahmed as ‘exceptional talent’
Ahmed has furthered his blossoming reputation against the West Indies by recording identical figures of 10-1-40-2 in two ODIs in Antigua.
Little bit of relief – Sam Curran and England bounce back in Antigua
Curran laid the groundwork for England’s six-wicket win.
Sam Curran and Jos Buttler return to form as England level series in Antigua
Chasing 203, Will Jacks put England into the ascendancy with a sparkling 73 off 72 balls.
Sam Curran finds form as England bowl out West Indies for 202
Curran took three big scalps days after enduring a tough time in the first ODI.
Andrew Flintoff set to return to England’s backroom staff for Windies T20 series
Flintoff first linked up with the national side in an unpaid role for ODI series against New Zealand and Ireland before the World Cup.
Danni Wyatt stars on 150th T20I appearance as England begin India tour with win
Sophie Ecclestone returned figures of three for 15 on her comeback appearance after four months out with a shoulder injury.
Harry Brook blocks himself from ‘negativity’ by withdrawing from social media
Brook has left the running of his X and Instagram accounts to someone else.
Sophie Ecclestone set for England return in T20 opener in India – Heather Knight
The world’s top-ranked limited-overs bowler underwent surgery after dislocating her shoulder in August.
Rehan Ahmed rejects Sir Alastair Cook’s criticism of Jos Buttler’s captaincy
Several of Buttler’s decisions were scrutinised during a calamitous World Cup defence.
Maia Bouchier and Danielle Gibson handed their first central contracts by ECB
England Women have once again issued 18 full-time deals.