Roderick Easdale: Six takeaways from England’s test win over Ireland


England 85 & 303 beat Ireland 207 & 38 by 143 runs

Story of the game: England chose to bat on a green top, Tim Murtagh on home soil takes Ireland’s first five-for in tests and at tea on first day Ireland are bossing it at 127-2. But England fight back and are batting again before the day is out. England get to 171-1 before another collapse followed by some tail wagging sets up a potentially nail-biting final innings. This never happens as Ireland are dismissed for the lowest test total at Lord’s. It’s also the seventh lowest of all time – six of which have been against England.


One: Much attention will be paid to their 38 all out, but Ireland’s first innings was when they could have taken a tight hold on the game. Hindsight shows that had they not lost eight wickets after tea on day one, they would have been batting on the second morning when conditions were best for batting. Instead England were able to haul themselves back into the game with the bat during that morning session.

Two: This was an odd selection by England, but then this team wasn’t really selected. It was put together in the manner which would be recognised by many village and club captains – after a ring round to see who was available for a match which was not in the original fixture list. Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler preferred to rest up before the Ashes; the rest of the world-cup team, some of whom who had not played a red-ball game this season, opted to play.

With the selectors unwilling to bring in a replacement batter for Buttler, who most likely would have to drop straight out again, they went in a batsman light, and a bowler heavy. This weak batting line up then got bowled out in 23.4 overs.

The selectors had to have in mind a batsmen in the short-term to call up in case of injury, and in the longer term as a replacement for an underperforming player or as the extra batsman on the winter tours. Would it not have been the ideal time to blood this person? Jason Roy and Joe Denly are so new to the side they look set to get the full summer, so reluctant is Trevor Bayliss to let batsmen be dropped, but will Rory Burns? He has now batted 14 times in test cricket and has only got to 30 on three occasions and averages 22.

Three: That theory is great, but the reality is that Jack Leach, who should not have played – you don’t need two spinners at Lord’s and certainly not on a green top, and he bowled three (poor) overs in the whole game – was probably the man who won the game for England with his 92 opening as nightwatchman. He was the man of the match.

Four: This selectorial parsimony towards calling up batsmen was not applied to the bowlers. What was Lewis Gregory doing in the 13? The final XI showed that Chris Woakes, Stuart Broad, Sam Curran and Ollie Stone are before him in the selector’s minds, and we can presume that James Anderson, Jofra Archer, Ben Stokes and Mark Wood are too. So that makes Gregory ninth in the pecking order. Will he join the likes of David Thomas, David Byas and Richard Stemp as players involved in an England squad for a home test but who never become test cricketers?

Five: Thunder and lightning took the players off the ground as it was too unsafe to be out in the open like that. But then eleven groundstaff came out onto the ground and worked away protecting pitch and square. You had to feel sorry for them – as you did earlier in game for players toiling in a London heat wave. The Lord’s press box can be decidedly bracing due to over-enthusiastic air conditioning – earlier in the season, for a county game, everyone was in coats in there (and one northern scribe was in cap, scarf as well as his magnificent greatcoat which looked like it was designed for the Eastern Front) – but this week its chilly atmosphere was most welcome.

Six: The match was great fun and England were never on top until the fourth innings and the game ended 15.5 overs into the third day. Who needs five-day tests? Indeed, a quarter of test matches in England in the past five years have not even gone into a fourth day. We may need flat pitches if the Ashes matches are to go five days, especially with both sides looking stronger in batting than bowling.


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