Well, that was a worthwhile exercise – wasn’t it?
Irish cricket got the double whammy of being allowed to play at the ‘Home of Cricket’ and, albeit briefly, being able to dream of a historic victory against England in the first-ever Test match between the two sides.
Before we poke the cricket finger-of-fun at the not-quite-four-day affair, it has to be questioned who on earth thought this match was a good idea?
After all, it’s not as if we are short of cricket this summer. The small matter of the World Cup has only just sobered up and Joe Root, Jason Roy, Moeen Ali (hey, he did some fine work as 12th man in the latter stages of the tournament) et al were asked to don the whites and have a gentle friendly against those plucky little Irish cricketers from another side of the sea.
Oh, and the Ashes starts this week so what actual good could have come of it?
I guess the theory was that Jason Roy and Rory Burns would have got a ton each to show the world that England are capable of getting off to a good start against a red ball.
Joe Denly would have come in at three and controlled the game from there meaning there was minimal work for Joe Root to have to do.
Then Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes would have skittled the Irish twice and England could start to think about their Ashes squad injury-free – especially to pride and ego.
Well, that went well, didn’t it?
Tim Murtagh knows a thing or two about bowling at Lords and he seemed to let some of the other Irish bowlers in on the secret – England were bowled out for 85 before lunch on the first day. It was, frankly, hilarious viewing.
The Irish led, understandably, going into the second innings before England set them 181 to win. How did they set them 181? Because Jack Leach, the nightwatchman-number-eleven managed to get 92, finally answering the question of “who can actually open the batting for England against Australia?”
Jason Roy also looked more comfortable the second time round, slowly slipping into his ODI groove and giving it a bit of tap – Roy did enough, as expected, to get an Ashes call.
But, again, other than that nobody else did anything other than damage their reputation with the bat. Jonny Bairstow heads into the 1st Ashes Test with a pair in the book and Moeen Ali must have been expecting to be dropped for the second time in a month considering his batting at Lords. Joe Denly will bat at three against Australia unless someone can blackmail Joe Root into doing what is surely best for the team – surely someone has some dirt on him somewhere?
Ireland gave themselves the chance of winning their lottery, cleaning up the last wicket of England’s second innings with the first ball of the third day. Sadly for them, England’s bowlers (plus a little help from quite a strange Lords track) were in no mood to join the batters in hanging their heads in shame – Woakes and Broad rattled through easily enough.
Ollie Stone was a winner from the match, getting himself in the squad with some decent pace – and Jack Leach probably didn’t really expect to find himself in the Ashes squad and therefore wasn’t surprised. Jofra Archer, thankfully, has got over his side strain and will be unleashed at Edgbaston.
And so we head into the Ashes understanding why Australia decided to play an inhouse match rather than risk the kind out outing England had.
My guess at the XI to play at Edgbaston goes something like this; Burns, Roy, Root (yes, I think someone will scare him into doing it), Stokes, Bairstow, Buttler, Ali, Woakes, Archer, Broad, Anderson/Stone.
Oh, and England to win the Ashes – of course.