Barely a week since England enjoyed one of the most triumphant days in their international history, they were pulled down to earth by an Ireland side making their first Test appearance at Lord’s.
On the ground where England were crowned World Cup winners, applause quickly turned to gasps as Tim Murtagh claimed the quickest five-for – in terms of deliveries bowled – in the history of Test cricket on this ground.
Murtagh is the sort of cricketer – little more than medium-paced – that has become unfashionable among England selectors. Which is odd, really, as James Anderson has evolved into something not so different. Maintaining an immaculate line and length, Murtagh gained just enough assistance to exploit the fragile techniques of the England top order to earn a place on the honour’s board after he had bowled just 44 deliveries. At one stage, nagging like a tax return, he took four wickets for one run in 11 balls as England subsided from 36 for 1 to 43 for 7.
It was the first time England had been bowled out in the opening session of a Lord’s Test in history but the fourth time they have lost 10 wickets in a session in three years. The other occasions were in Dhaka (in October 2016), Auckland (in March 2018) and Bridgetown (in January). Before the game in Dhaka, England had not lost 10 wickets in a session since 1938. This was also the shortest complete Test innings England have ever had (again, in terms of deliveries) at home.
By the time Moeen Ali edged a tentative push at one angled across him, England’s five World Cup winners had contributed just seven runs between them and England had lost six wickets for the addition of seven runs in 28 deliveries.
That wicket also gave Murtagh his five-for. He is 38 in little more than a week and bowls at a pace – little more than 75 mph – which can appear sedate. But he knows these conditions well – Lord’s has been his home ground for many years – and has the skill and control to exploit any assistance that may be available.
That England have any foothold at all in the game is largely due to the post-tea spells of Stuart Broad and Olly Stone. At the interval, Ireland had a lead of 42 and eight wickets in hand but so well did England bowl immediately afterwards that five wickets fell for the addition of just 17 runs.
So, 20 wickets in the day. In years to come, you suspect people will glance at the scorecard and conclude it was a murky day on a green seamer. There was some assistance, it’s true and some fine bowling, too. But, most of all, there was some pretty feeble batting.
Summarized scores: England 85 all out (Murtagh 5-13); Ireland 207 (Balbirnie 55); England 0 for 0-trail by 122 runs