Much as we all want more, I suppose we have to call that a morning. I’ll be back presently for Ireland’s response; in the meantime, here’s this week’s Spin on the particular joy of part0time bowlers snagging frontline batsmen.
Uff marone! How do we make sense of this? Here’s Tim Murtagh! He says it’s a dream to play here and he’s not really sure what’s happened, then thanks all the other bowlers for their work. He says everything felt really good, the ball came out nicely, and there was just a bit in the wicket. He should know how to bowl on this ground, the pitch offered a bit both ways and some swing, and he had some good support at the other end. “A walk through the long room and a Lord’s lunch,” says Nasser; “I might have some dessert as well,” says Murtagh. Glorious, wondrous, sensational stuff; Ireland have been amazing, and England are world champions!
WICKET! Stone b Adair 19 (England 85 all out)
And there it is! Adair slings down a fast, straight one, it cracks Stone on the elbow, careers into the stumps, and that’s three wickets on debut! England are the absolute height of England!
23rd over: England 85-9 (Stone 19, Leach 1) Adair returns – is he ginger? – is his nickname Red? He sends Stone a tempter, which he lashes to the fence making him England’s top-scorer … I wonder what’s coming next….
“I believe that this is the second time a bowler at Lords has got his name on the honours board before lunch on the 1st day,” emails Dan Seppings. “Tom Richardson got 6-39 when England played Australia in 1896. Australia were all out for 53 by lunch. So there you go, it’s not that bad…”
23rd over: England 81-9 (Stone 15, Leach 1) And there’s your Cook replacement! Leach plays out a maiden from Rankin.
“I just can’t get over the sheer breath-taking arrogance of the esteemed Gary Naylor (10:30am)”, says Harkan Sumal. ‘75-5 at lunch’ indeed. What larks! Between this and the antics down in Southampton (Hick XII vs Haddin XII), it looks like 2-day tests might be the modern fashion by the time the Ashes are done and dusted.”
I’m looking forward to the first Test played in minus time.
22nd over: England 81-9 (Stone 15, Leach 1) Oh yes! Stone drives Thompson four through point and Athers notes how well Ireland have dragged the batsmen forward; their lengths have been beautiful. But here Stone is again, watching the ball onto the bat and driving down the ground for four, then blocking a shorter one and crashing a drive to the extra cover fence! Is the search for an opening partner for Alastair Cook over?
21st over: England 69-9 (Stone 3, Leach 1) If England are bowled out before lunch it’ll be the fourth time they’ve been dismissed in a session in a year – Dakar, Auckland and Trent Bridge are already on the roll of honour, with Bridgetown hosting a piddling nine wickets. Leach shoves a single into the leg side, then Stone eases behind for one.
WICKET! Curran c McCollum b Rankin 18 (England 67-9)
And there’s that short leg! Curran leans forward and turns directly into his hands which reminds us of how brilliantly Ireland have executed this morning. My fingers are typing but my head is spinning; this is amazing.
20th over: England 67-8 (Curran 18, Stone 2) England have now blazed past their lowest ever total at Lord’s – 53 in 1888 – the beauty of central contracts. I guess it is hard for the players who won the world cup to relax into what’s happened and, more than that, to come to terms with the emotional peak and then how to respond to the comedown. The four who were in the squad made eight between them and, let’s be real, the other two dismissed aren’t necessarily Test-class. Six off the over.
19th over: England 61-8 (Curran 14 , Stone 1) Now this is the can-do spirit our glorious leader was invoking: just when you think you’ve seen every conceivable aspect of conceited incompetence, another stunning wrinkle is revealed! Stone goes tentatively at his first ball and edges behind for one, then Curran top-edges two over the keeper’s head.
WICKET! Broad c Wilson b Rankin 3 (England 58-8)
Rankin comes around and bangs one in back of a length; Broad lifts his bad above stump-height, feathers an edge, and the Irish backstop does the rest. This is basically Brexit in cricketing form.
19th over: England 58-7 (Curran 12, Broad 3) Murtagh’s spell of 9-2-13-5 comes to an end, as I wonder whether anyone’s ever got themselves onto the honour’s board before lunch on day 1. Anyway, Boyd Rankin has the ball – he and Nawab of Pataudi Snr are now the only men to play Tests for and against England – and after two dots, he asks for a short leg. And then he beats Broad, reckons there’s an edge, and when the umpire thinks to the contrary, requests a review!
18th over: England 58-7 (Curran 12, Broad 3) Curran allows Thompson to charge through a maiden, though he does hammer two drives directly to cover. It’s 58-7!
“As your roving Paris-based Irish cricket nut,” says Robert Wilson, “may I appeal to other Irish fans not to crow too loudly about this morning’s work? It’s all too easy to revel in the crushing dismissal of Test minnows but it should be avoided. We need to be better than that. England are to be encouraged, nurtured and admired for their moxie and courage. I personally dislike these flagrant mismatches. It takes all the grandeur out of it. I think the English boys look very nice in their whites and they all appear to know the rules. That’s not nothing.”
Just wait till you hear about the lunch they’ve laid on.
17th over: England 58-7 (Curran 12, Broad 3) Murtagh takes one more as we try to calm down and wonder: what is it with these? The shots we see them playing suggests technical frailty, but the frequency with which this happens suggests mental fragility. Except we’ve seen some of them win matches against India, New Zealand, Australia and New Zealand again, all in a row row row, to win a world cup. I don’t know, but by next week they need to find an answer for a problem that’s been bothersome for three years. Anyway, two off the over and that’s drinks – England look like they’ve had a skinful already.
16th over: England 56-7 (Curran 12, Broad 1) It is six million degrees in London today, but sat on the balcony, Joe Root is wearing a long-sleeved top; that’s chilling he’s finding this, how cold he must be with great vengeance and furious anger. Luckily, he has Scurran, who clatters four through cover then glances four more through third man. This takes England to their half-century and beyond their lowest-ever Test score, a supremacy Scurran immediately presses home with three more down the ground. The runs are flowing now! And there’s another, Broad nudging to point.
“One reason I was so delighted with Shane Lowry winning The Open,” says Hubert O’Hearn, “was that the good feelings would balance out the tonking surely to be delivered at Lord’s by England. Instead, this!?! We win the golf, storming the cricket, and I’d make a comment about the Dail being more stable than Westminster but I’m not chancing our luck.”
I was more stable than Westminster during the aforementioned teenage years.
15th over: England 43-7 (Curran 1, Broad 0) I feel bad for giving England’s comparatively prolific top order grief – that’s three middle-order ducks in a row, making it six wickets lost for seven runs scored. You’ve got to hand it to England, you’d think after decades of collapses we’d have seen it all, but they keep finding ways to reinvent themselves, like Bowie, Radiohead and Dylan all mixed. Murtagh hammers Broad on the pad, but this one pitched outside the line. Maiden, giving Murtagh figures of 8-2-11-5! Unbelievable and believable at the same time.
“Just wondering if four days may be too long,” says Kim Thonger. “This might be over in four hours.”
WICKET! Ali c Wilson b Murtagh 0 (England 43-7)
IT’S FIVE FOR MURTAGH! IT’S SEVEN FOR IRELAND! IT’S HUMILIATION FOR ENGLAND! IT’S WONDERFUL FOR CRICKET! Murtagh amazes Moeen by bowling a straight one, and Moeen amazes the world by studiously and deliberately edging it behind. Glorious! Sensational! Test cricket!
15th over: England 43-6 (Ali 0, Curran 1) This is better from England, we’ve not had a wicket for an entire seven balls.
14th over: England 42-6 (Ali 0, Curran 0) I said earlier that Curran has timing, and he dug England out of some pits last summer; let’s see what he’s got now. Can he bat at 1-6? This is a proper back to tha old skool from England, and I’m absolutely lapping it up. I feel like I’m 15 again, and as such am smoking a Regal out the window while guzzling an Irn Bru bar, straightening my curtains and listening to jungle. I strongly suggest that you do the same. A maiden for Adair, and how long can these two keep at it?
13th over: England 42-6 (Ali 0, Curran 0) What more can this game do to amaze us?!
Woakes is toast! England are 42-6! That is not a typo!
Woakes was caught on the back pad by a wobbler, tight to the stumps, and the ball was trimming middle and leg! Oh yes!
WICKET! Woakes lbw b Murtagh 0 (England 42-6)
Shut up! Shut – up! Woakes is done by a nip-backer, but reviews….
13th over: England 42-5 (Ali 0, Woakes 0) Here’s one for all those fancying Woakes as a three.
WICKET! Bairstow b Murtagh 0 (England 42-5)
Ahahahahahahahahahah! You have got to laugh! You can only laugh! This is wonderful, amazing, disgraceful, hilarious, affirming, pathetic, inspiring, affirming and affirming! Murtagh bowls straight, Bairstow baristwos a ludicrously dunderheaded airy drive, and C-R-A-S-H!
13th over: England 42-4 (Bairstow 0, Ali 0) Well, at least Moeen can be trusted to bat sensibly. It’s funny really, when England were in trouble during the world cup, your Rob Smyths, Rob Bagchis and me were discussing how much of our distress, if it went wrong, was having invested in the goal while sitting through Vizag, Auckland and the rest. I wondered if that now they’re world champions, these collapses would be less nauseating, but can confirm that much as this is a joy to narrate because Ireland are fantastic and this is so, so good for the game, it remains as majestically nauseating as ever it did.
WICKET! Root lbw b Adair 2 (England 42-2)
OH MY DAYS! OH MY ABSOLUTE DAYS! IRELAND ARE HAVING A DAY OUT, ENGLAND ARE HAVING AN ENGLAND! There were two noises: the ball hitting the front pad, then the ball hitting the back pad! As the whoops begin from the fielding side, the umpire is ordered to reverse his decision because the ball is cleansing the stumps, and this is astonishing! Ireland have bowled superbly! England still do not know how to bat in Test cricket!
12th over: England 42-3 (Root 2, Bairstow 0) This looking like a good toss to lose – Ireland were totally tempted to bowl, but I’d be amazed if they weren’t also worried about inserting England only to find the score 270-2 at tea. Adair charges in again and Root does his third man thing to the tune of two; he then crumps the pad and four byes follow, then again! This one is proper straight! But was there a little edge? When the umpire rejects and wild appeal – and what a joy that is – Adair reviews!
11th over: England 36-3 (Root 0, Bairstow 0) Well, at least we can rely on Bairstow to play the situation. Murtagh charges in, Bairstow pulls away, and the stumps go all over.
“I am following your coverage from the hospital library where I am reviewing x-rays,” says Chris Busby. The a/c is just about coping but I am dreading the operating list this afternoon. It’s going to be a sweaty one. I am in standard junior doctor attire: chinos and a blue shirt, no tie.”
I think chinos are on the banned list but worry not – soon we won’t have hospitals and other such fripperies, as we impose our can-do attitude upon the grateful world, dude. Or or Your Dudeness … Duder … or El Duderino, if, you know, you’re not into the whole brevity thing.
WICKET! Burns c Wilson b Murtagh 6 (England 36-3)
HAVE A LOOK! Burns’ shonky technique gets him into all sorts here – his bat waves all over the show and his feet ramble to Camden and back before one gets the wrong side of the other, bat slanting to mid on, and he drives only to edge behind! This is brilliant!
11th over: England 36-2 (Burns 6, Root 0) These spells must be taking it right out of the bowlers – the weather in this country clearly understands irony, because it’s absolutely glorious.
10th over: England 36-2 (Burns 6, Root 0) Adair forces one past Root’s outside edge as he pretends to play inside the line. This is riveting stuff.
“I like Joe Denly,” says Matthew Potter, “but surely if we’re giving the Roy experience a go, he is better at 3 and Denly could miss out? If I were a selector (there’s an almost infinite list of reasons why not – particularly a burning desire to see James Hildreth get an England cap) I’d have opened with Sibley and Burns, with Roy at 3 and so on… I also think Gregory should have got a game with Woakes being rested, as this Test seems a great opportunity to blood players and he definitely deserves it.”
I’m not sure there’s much difference between opening and batting three, but I do take your point. If I’m honest, I’m yet to see a Test-class batsman in Denly, and I’m afraid i don’t watch enough country cricket to be sure about Sibley. As for Burns, he looks like he’s got the mental gear, but I wonder if he’s got the game to thrive against the best.