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How Ireland proved they belong on world stage in stunning first day at Lord's

 

Gotcha: Tim Murtagh celebrates taking the wicket of Jonny Bairstow
Gotcha: Tim Murtagh celebrates taking the wicket of Jonny Bairstow

By Ian Callender

At tea-time on Ireland's first day of Test cricket in England, it looked as if Sabina Park 2007, Bangalore 2011 and Nelson 2015 would be relegated to also-rans in the annals of Irish cricket, to be replaced by Lord's 2019.

It may yet be, if Ireland go on and achieve the implausible, if not the impossible, and win their first Test at the Home of Cricket. The fact that it is even being considered only underlines what a herculean effort the Ireland players produced in seven hours of action.

The first two, plus eight minutes, will be remembered and talked about for a lifetime by anyone privileged to be among the 20,000 spectators at Lord's or watching on television.

Fifty years to the month since Ireland bowled out West Indies at Sion Mills for 25, something even more sensational happened. In 1969, it was a Windies side coming off the back of a Test match - at Lord's ironically - and back then fielding an understrength side.

This, though, was an England side, playing for a place in the Ashes, and 10 days after four of them had won the World Cup on this ground.

Ireland bowled them out for 85 in 23.4 overs, the fifth shortest innings in England's 1,012 Test matches.

The hosts closed the day without a run but all second innings wickets intact, but still 122 runs in arrears after Andrew Balbirnie scored his second half-century in successive innings and Ireland topped 200 for the first time in the first innings of a Test.

The loss of five wickets for 17 runs after tea, including Balbirnie, transferred the momentum of the day, but Ireland are still, incredibly, in pole position with a possible three days left.

The man responsible was Tim Murtagh who, just three weeks after taking his first five-wicket haul in List A cricket against Zimbabwe, did it for the first time in a Test match. Bowling as has done for the last 12 years of his life, from the Nursery End at Lord's, he had figures of five for 13 from nine overs with the new ball, reducing England to 42-7.

The England batsmen had no answer - and no strokes. The middle order of Johnny Bairstow, Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes failed to score a run between them as Murtagh and Mark Adair took six wickets for seven runs in 27 balls.

This was Ireland in dreamland, and when Boyd Rankin replaced his senior partner, the big Bready man took two more wickets and England were almost down and out at 67-9.

The Ireland supporters in the ground, already shielding their eyes against the sun, were now rubbing them in disbelief, while the England fans were shaking their heads in horror.

Olly Stone, batting at No.10, one of two England Test debutants, hit Stuart Thompson for three fours in four balls but that only prompted William Porterfield to bring back Adair and, three balls later, England had been bowled out, seven minutes before lunch.

The reflections at the break were that when Porterfield had called 'heads' at the toss and it landed 'tails', it was the best call the Irish skipper had ever made - a great toss to lose.

It got better in the afternoon when Ireland passed England's total, with only openers Porterfield and James McCollum out, but even they had put on 32 for the first wicket, more than any of the England partnerships.

Balbirnie survived a missed chance at slip by Root on 10 and Paul Stirling was dropped by the England captain on 17, but they cashed in and saw Ireland to the sweetest tea they have ever tasted on 127-2.

Kevin O'Brien, with memories of his second innings century in Ireland's inaugural Test against Pakistan, dug in, but only Andy McBrine, in a stand of 25, stayed with him for any length of time, and it was Murtagh who gave it the long handle with three fours in an over off Stuart Broad, who took Ireland past 200.

It was a day that had started with one of Ireland's best, Ed Joyce, ringing the five-minute bell, and ended with Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom, for the first time, giving his thoughts immediately after a day's play.

"What a day's play like this does show is that Ireland belongs here on the world stage," he said. No matter what happens next, no-one can disagree with that.

ENGLAND 1ST INNINGS

R Burns c Wilson b Murtagh 6

J Roy c Stirling b Murtagh 5

J Denly lbw b Adair 23

J Root lbw b Adair 2

J Bairstow b Murtagh 0

Moeen Ali c Wilson b Murtagh 0

C Woakes lbw b Murtagh 0

S Curran c McCollum b Rankin 18

S Broad c Wilson b Rankin 3

O Stone b Adair 19

M Leach not out 1

Extras (5lb 1w 2nb) 8

Total (23.4 overs) 85

Fall: 1-8 2-36 3-36 4-42 5-42 6-42 7-43 8-58 9-67

Bowling: T Murtagh 9-2-13-5, M Adair 7.4-1-32-3, S Thompson 4-1-30-0, B Rankin 3-1-5-2

IRELAND 1ST INNINGS

W Porterfield c Leach b Curran 14

J McCollum b Curran 19

A Balbirnie b Stone 55

P Stirling lbw b Broad 36

K O'Brien not out 28

G Wilson c Root b Stone 0

S Thompson b Broad 0

M Adair b Curran 3

A McBrine b Broad 11

T Murtagh c Burns b Stone 16

B Rankin b Ali 7

Extras (10b 6lb 2w) 18

Total (58.2 overs) 207

Fall: 1-32 2-45 3-132 4-138 5-138 6-141 7-149 8-174 9-195

Bowling: S Broad 19-5-60-3, C Woakes 10-2-34-0, O Stone 12-3-29-3, S Curran 10-3-28-3, J Leach 3-0-26-0, Moeen Ali 4.2-1-14-1

ENGLAND 2ND INNINGS

J Leach not out 0

R Burns not out 0

Total (0 wkts, 1 over) 0

Bowling: T Murtagh 1-1-0-0

Today: 11am-6.30pm

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