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Holywood man Mark Adair is turning his Ireland dreams to reality with stellar show against England

Memorable moment: Mark Adair successfully appeals for the wicket of England captain Joe Root
Memorable moment: Mark Adair successfully appeals for the wicket of England captain Joe Root

By Ian Callender

When Mark Adair got up yesterday morning, he had probably just finished dreaming of taking his first Test wicket and scoring a half-century.

The second part of the dream must wait before it becomes reality but everything went to plan with the ball on a morning that Adair and Ireland will never forget.

Ireland's 17th Test player may have played second fiddle to Tim Murtagh's superb five-wicket burst with the new ball but Adair more than played his part on his debut.

The 23-year-old from Holywood has forced his way into the Test team after 15 wickets in his first nine one-day internationals and, just for good measure, he followed that with four wickets in his first three overs on his maiden Ireland appearance in the Twenty20 side.

But this was the big stage. Only a minority of Test match players have even played at Lord's but, 45 minutes before the start of Ireland's first Test at the most famous cricket ground in the world, Ireland's chairman of selectors Andrew White presented Mark Richard Adair with his Test cap.

At three minutes past 11, Adair had the ball in his hand, opening the bowling from the Pavilion End. His sixth ball should have resulted in his first wicket but, having hit England's Test debutant Jason Roy on the pads, plumb in front of middle stump, he heard the umpire's shout of 'no ball'. Cruel, but an elementary mistake and Adair was the first to hold his hand up in apology.

Fortunately, the wicket cost only the one run for the no ball because Murtagh had Roy caught low at slip in the next over and Ireland had their first Test wicket at Lord's.

Adair, though, would take the second. When Joe Denly was hit on the pads, this time Adair's foot was well behind the line. He turned round to see the umpire raise his finger and Adair was a Test match wicket-taker.

Six balls later, he had his second, the prize scalp of England captain Joe Root, after another leg before decision, which was judged 'umpire's call' on review.

Adair bowled one more over to complete a memorable first spell, but he wasn't finished for the innings. After an annoying ninth wicket stand, captain William Porterfield called Adair back into the attack and, three balls later, he bowled fellow Test debutant Olly Stone to end the innings. England bowled out for just 85 but Ireland knew only the first quarter of the job had been done. The batsmen still had to go out and back up the bowlers and Adair is also a big part of that.

In white ball cricket, although he only made his Ireland debut 82 days ago, he is already a dangerous, lower-order power-hitter. This, though, required something different. When Ireland lost their sixth wicket, it was the fourth for just nine runs and it wasn't a need for quick scoring, rather a case of digging in and keeping Kevin O'Brien company.

He started confidently enough, clipping his fourth ball through mid-wicket for a couple of runs, but would add only another single before, forgetting he was facing a red-ball, he tried to pull Sam Curran through mid-wicket and could only drag it onto his stumps.

It was a lonely walk back past the aged members in the famous pavilion but he can still be proud of his first day in Test cricket. On this evidence there are many more to come.

Belfast Telegraph


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