Midsummer Murtagh at Lord’s as Ireland skittle England for 85
The World Cup winners were blown away in the first innings of an historic Test.
England’s World Cup honeymoon was gatecrashed in sensational fashion at Lord’s as Ireland skittled their hosts for a calamitous 85 all out on the first morning of the historic Specsavers Test.
Just 10 days after their greatest achievement in one-day cricket, England were back at the scene of a triumph that has instantly entered sporting folklore but found themselves blown away by their first-time visitors.
The authors of their downfall were an unlikely bunch – 37-year-old seamer Tim Murtagh using all his nous and knowledge to take sensational five for 13, with the other five split between debutant Mark Adair and a man who once wore the Three Lions, Boyd Rankin.
Only three batsmen reached double figures in England’s tale of woe, while the five World Cup winners on show mustered just seven runs between them.
The match was not only the first ever four-day Test to be played on these shores – though odds on it going that far have already receded spectacularly – it was also the first to be played between the neighbouring nations.
Ireland’s first forays into Test cricket saw them beaten by both Pakistan and Afghanistan, but win, lose or draw, a glorious morning in St John’s Wood has confirmed their right to have a seat at the table.
In what was widely expected to be a gentle buffer between the dizzying highs of the tournament triumph and the forthcoming Ashes series, England have been pitched into a battle to avoid what would arguably be their most shocking defeat in the format they hold dearest.
Captain Joe Root, on duty while the likes of Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler rested, won the toss and opted to bat first, a seemingly sound decision under sunny skies but one that would soon backfire dramatically.
Jason Roy, the World Cup hero handed his long-awaited red ball debut, was first to go as he set the tone for a woeful performance with the bat.
The buccaneering one-day opener lasted just 11 balls and might have been out three times, nicking one past his leg stump then surviving a plumb lbw shout from Adair only because the bowler overstepped.
Third time proved a charm for the Irish as Murtagh snared the outside edge and Paul Stirling held on at slip.
Joe Denly led a streaky stand of 28 with Rory Burns before the pair fell in short order, the former lbw to Adair for his side’s top score of 23 and the latter feathering Murtagh after a clunky stay.
The new ball pair were hardly troubling the speed gun, settling in well below 80mph, but relentlessly attacked the stumps and generated movement through the air and off the pitch, a challenge England repeatedly proved unable to negotiate.
A huge Adair shout against Root was turned down on the field then overturned on DRS, sending the key man back for just two, before Jonny Bairstow aimed a big mow at the wily Murtagh on nought.
The ball weaved between bat and pad and wrecked the stumps, a picture postcard dismissal that brought leaps of joy in the field.
Murtagh also bagged Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes for ducks, caught behind and leg before, to complete his country’s first Test five-for at the ground he has called home with Middlesex for the past 12 years.
Next up was Rankin, the man who played a solitary Test for England in the 2014 Ashes before reverting to his home nation. He became the first player to line up for and against the English since the Nawab of Pataudi did so for India in 1946.
To mark the occasion he took Stuart Broad’s edge and had Sam Curran brilliantly caught for 18 by James McCollum at short-leg.
Olly Stone hit four boundaries to avert an even more shameful total but he was last out to the returning Adair, clean bowled in an innings lasting just 23.4 overs.