England’s World Cup honeymoon period crashed in sensational fashion at Lord’s as Ireland skittled the hosts for a calamitous 85 all out on the first morning of the historic 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.
Provided by Press Association Sport
England captain Joe Root confirmed that their record Test-wicket taker James Anderson will miss the match against Ireland to give him time to be “one hundred percent fit” for the Ashes series with Australia.
Anderson remains sidelined by a calf injury suffered while playing for Lancashire and will continue to be monitored ahead of The Ashes.
“Jimmy (James Anderson) probably would have been able to get through this Test (against Ireland). But we are just making sure that he is absolutely ready,” said Test skipper Root.
“The last thing you want is him carrying a niggle going into a series. So we have tried to be sensible about it and make sure that we give him as much time to be hundred percent fit going into that series, a five-match series (against Australia, the Ashes).
“So we are very confident that he will be fit.”
Jason Roy and Olly Stone will make their England Test debuts against Ireland, which gets under way at Lord’s on Wednesday.
England made a few era-defining changes to their cricket set up as they pursued World Cup success with a single-minded obsession.
Bringing in fearless batsmen and going on the attack from the first ball to the 300th changed the way one-day-international cricket was played over the last four years and brought the first 50-over world glory to the team.
But good as England became in white-ball cricket, their Test ambitions took a back seat, to an extent. Ever since Andrew Strauss retired in 2012, Alastair Cook struggled to find a single long-term partner for six years until his own retirement; Haseeb Hameed being one promising option who lost his way after injury and a loss of form.
Test caps were handed out like pamphlets over the last five years and disproportionate burden was placed on the ageing shoulders of James Anderson and Stuart Broad; there are still no long-term replacements for the two with the rise of Jofra Archer coming at a fortuitous time that has covered up a gaping hole in England’s Test plans.
But England, and more specifically national selector Ed Smith, did get one aspect of team selection spot on – identifying white-ball talent that can flourish in red-ball cricket.
Paul Farbrace saying on TMS that Jason Roy should open for England in the Ashes. Got to be the odds on option now.....— Paul Newman 🌈 (@Paul_NewmanDM) June 8, 2019
Jos Buttler was handed a Test recall last year following a fine IPL stint with Rajasthan Royals. His counter-attacking batting, along that of the astute Sam Curran, was a deciding factor in England’s 4-1 Test series win over India in 2018.
Smith stuck his neck out and saw something in Buttler that could work in Test cricket.
“It is the whole package with Jos. It is what he is capable of, what the opposition know he is capable of and what he brings to the side beyond merely batsmanship,” Smith had said.
Brilliant as that move was, Buttler had at least played Test cricket before and it was a matter of bringing him back at the right time, like India have done with the recall of Rohit Sharma.
The Test selection of ODI megastar Jason Roy is an even more brave call. And it is one that can bring greater success.
When you get once-in-a-generation top-order batsmen like David Warner, Virender Sehwag and Roy, having them on the frontline of Test cricket can be a masterstroke.
Whether or not Roy has a good first-class record is immaterial; the form that he is in and the manner in which he ripped world-class bowlers apart during the World Cup show he is in a headspace where there is just no fear.
In the World Cup semi-final against Australia, England were chasing a tricky target of 224. Australia had their tail up and it could have all gone south quickly for England if they lost a few early wickets.
With the leading wicket-taker of the tournament – Mitchell Starc – steaming in, Roy hit back with such ferocity, the defending champions stopped in their tracks. Starc went for 50 runs in his first five overs and it was game, set and match.
Take that fearless mentality and put it into the Ashes, and you get the possibility of a hundred in a session. It is a rare quality to have – fearless batting against the new ball with decent technique.
If Roy does end up opening the batting, as he should, Australian quicks won’t be able to dictate terms. Especially if he goes after Starc early and it comes off.
Roy is definitely no Strauss or Cook and he should not be expected to graft either, because there are others in the line-up who can do that. Allowing Roy to bat, and even fail, they way he has in ODI cricket should be the main task of Joe Root and England.
Because if he gets going, Roy can set a Test up in one session.