England’s World Cup honeymoon turned into a hangover at Lord’s as an inspired Ireland skittled them for just 85 in the first session of Test cricket between the sides to forge a 122-run lead on day one.
Just 10 days after the elation of edging New Zealand in a final which has instantly entered sporting folklore, England were back in whites, back at the home of cricket and back to fighting for their lives against a red ball.
They responded to being bundled out in 23.4 overs, their shortest innings on home turf, by bowling out their visitors for 207 on a chaotic 20-wicket day and then saw nightwatchman Jack Leach survive a solitary over at the close.
Many had positioned the Test, scheduled for four days but highly unlikely to go that far, as a gentle workout sandwiched between the unforgettable tournament triumph and the forthcoming Ashes series.
But by the time the shell-shocked hosts were rolled inside a single session for the fourth time in three years it was clear Ireland had come to compete, not cooperate.
Ireland arrived at St John’s Wood with just two games and two defeats in their brief Test history but left having removed any doubts, should they still exist, about their worthiness to sit at the top table.
Tim Murtagh, the Lambeth-born 37-year-old with a dozen years of Middlesex matches under his belt at this famous old ground, was the undeniable star of the day. He used his nagging medium pace to claim five wickets for 13 runs and etch his name on the honours board he has eyed enviously throughout his career.
The debutant Mark Adair added three of his own, with two for Boyd Rankin on the day he became just the second man – following the Nawab of Pataudi in 1946 – to play Test cricket for and against England.
Stuart Broad, Sam Curran and another new face, Olly Stone, took three apiece as Ireland’s innings ended just before stumps.
Vic Marks’ report will follow