58th over: Ireland 207-9 (O’Brien 28, Rankin 7) Stone has an LBW appeal caught in the throat when O’Brien gets a late inside-edge, and then bangs in a short ball that balloons for four byes. Ireland lead by 122.
57th over: Ireland 203-9 (O’Brien 28, Rankin 7) Rankin squirts Broad to third man for four. It prompt one of the biggest cheers of the day, because those runs take Ireland past 200. It’s been the most extraordinary day of international cricket at Lord’s since the last one.
56th over: Ireland 195-9 (O’Brien 27, Rankin 0) Kevin O’Brien survives an England review for caught and bowled. He missed a pull and was hit on the top of the arm, with Stone taking the catch in his follow through. Aleem Dar said ‘not out’ so England went upstairs, thinking it had hit the glove first. Replays showed it was straight onto the arm. It was another excellent short ball from Stone, who has been impressively callous today.
WICKET! Ireland 195-9 (Murtagh c Burns b Stone 16)
Murtagh plays a blind swat off a short ball from Stone, and Rory Burns runs in from deep midwicket to take a low catch. Murtagh smashed four fours in a 10-ball 16. He may be on his home ground, but he has had a helluva day out. And it might not be finished.
55th over: Ireland 190-8 (O’Brien 26, Murtagh 12) Murtagh, taking guard near short leg, smears Broad through midwicket for four – once, twice, three times. All three shots were almost comically rustic. Ireland will not care about that, especially as the second boundary took their lead past 100.
54th over: Ireland 178-8 (O’Brien 26, Murtagh 0) Olly Stone returns to the attack, presumably with instructions to rough up the tail. O’Brien thwarts the plan by facing all six deliveries himself, although he is unable to retain the strike at the end of the over.
“I quite like John Starbuck’s methodology for choosing a captain,” says Phil Sawyer, “mainly because a brief scan of current English Division One captains suggests that the most obvious candidate is Trundling Death himself, Yorkshire’s Steve Patterson. I’m pretty sure FEC is a title not even his own mother has bestowed on him.”
Not the E, anyway.
53rd over: Ireland 174-8 (O’Brien 24, Murtagh 0) At first, Broad thought the bails hadn’t been dislodged. He looked around McBrine, with the startled expression of a teenage voyeur peering out of a wardrobe, to check whether he had actually bowled him. He had.
“I agree with you on Morgan,” says Andrew Hurley. “Or if not, Buttler. Root is not a good captain, and he is hindering the team by batting at No4 (England have plenty of options for 4,5,6,7), none at 3. As regards Smith and Kohli, well, first off Root isn’t in their league, and secondly Australia and India have other options, England don’t. I’ve rambled on too often about the nonsense of simply making your best player as captain in cricket, it makes no sense at all! I think, as well, it must be difficult for the ODI players going from Morgan to Root, and Root probably feels this.”
It would be a huge story were England to move on from Root, because they don’t really sack Test captains. The last one to go because of Test results was, I think, David Gower in 1989. If England lose the Ashes, it’ll certainly be up for discussion.
WICKET! Ireland 174-8 (McBrine b Broad 11)
A short ball from Broad follows O’Brien, who gloves it onto his ribs and staggers away in pain. There’s an impromptu drinks break while he retrieves treatment. He’s fine to continue, and he’ll have a new partner now because Broad has bowled McBrine via inside edge and pad.
52nd over: Ireland 173-7 (O’Brien 23, McBrine 11) Moeen Ali replaces Sam Curran and bowls a maiden to McBrine. Ireland look content to bat until the close, which is just under an hour away, and take their chances in 38-degree weather tomorrow. I wonder if they will regret not giving Tim Murtagh five or six overs tonight.
51st over: Ireland 173-7 (O’Brien 23, McBrine 11) Broad replaces Woakes and is squirted through backward point for four by O’Brien, who then top-edges a hook that drops short of fine leg. Ireland lead by 88, which might even be enough for an innings victory.
“I think you’re right, Rob, on Stone,” says Gary Naylor, patting me on the back so hard it hurts. “I think he hits more batsmen than Archer and he makes set players twitch and jump. Having seen both of them live recently, I’d say Stone is quicker at his fastest too – though I’m not sure that he can summon it as effortlessly as Archer can. It just seems to happen.”
50th over: Ireland 167-7 (O’Brien 18, McBrine 10) Curran moves around the wicket to O’Brien, who continues to play with impressive restraint. He has 18 from 49 balls; it took him only 50 balls to smash a century against England at the 2011 World Cup.
“Afternoon, Rob,” says Phil Sawyer. “Is it too late to persuade Tim Murtagh to turn his arm over for England? Preferably in this match.”
49th over: Ireland 165-7 (O’Brien 17, McBrine 10) McBrine gloves an attempted pull off Woakes over the keeper’s head for four. Every little helps for Ireland, whose lead is now 80.
“So Olly Stone is a once-in-a-generation bowler,” says Matt Emerson. “Much like Jofra Archer, then. No, wait, hang on…”
I know what Naylor means. There’s something raw and unpredictable, almost maverick, about Stone, whereas Archer is just your common-or-garden potential all-time great freak genius.
48th over: Ireland 160-7 (O’Brien 17, McBrine 6) This is a tricky spell for Ireland, with both Woakes and Curran swinging the old ball. McBrine, who looks pretty organised for a No9, is content to defend the majority of the over.
“Great to see some stumps getting uprooted again,” says Parminder Khosa. “The ones in the World Cup were not budging even when Archer was hitting them flush. Still not up to the cartwheeling standard of my youth though.”
47th over: Ireland 158-7 (O’Brien 16, McBrine 6) Woakes beats McBrine with consecutive deliveries. He has been much better in this spell, and is unfortune to concede four when McBrine thick edges to third man. Ireland lead by 73.
“Outwith Morgan, who’s in a category by himself, the usual way to consider captain options (coptions?) is to go round the counties and see who does it well and is English,” says John Starbuck. “The figures are there for a reason.”
46th over: Ireland 153-7 (O’Brien 16, McBrine 2) “I agree with you that England’s best batsman should bat where he feels most comfortable,” says Andrew Cosgrove, “but I also agree that Root isn’t necessarily England’s best captain. It should be Lewis Gregory, of course, but in the meantime Jos Buttler seems like a good choice.”
It’ll all be up for discussion at the end of the summer should England lose the Ashes. Buttler will be an excellent captain, but – assuming Morgan retires from ODIs – I’d be wary about asking him to take over both the Test and ODI teams.
45th over: Ireland 150-7 (O’Brien 15, McBrine 0) O’Brien survives a big shout for a catch down the leg side off Woakes. I think it came off the pad, and Woakes wasn’t particularly interested in a review. O’Brien is then beaten by a big outswinger. With the ball suddenly doing plenty in the air, it might not be a bad thing for Ireland to be bowled out in the next 20 minutes. Tim Murtagh could do a lot of damage in the final hour.
44th over: Ireland 149-7 (O’Brien 14, McBrine 0) A wicket maiden for Curran. Ireland have lost their last five wickets for 17 runs in 12 overs.
WICKET! Ireland 149-7 (Adair b Curran 3)
That’ll do! Adair tries to pull Curran and drags the ball back onto the stumps. That’s Curran’s third wicket, two of which have been drag-ons. The boy’s a bit golden-armed.
43rd over: Ireland 149-6 (O’Brien 14, Adair 3) Chris Woakes replaces the impressive Olly Stone (9-2-22-2). O’Brien is playing with a clear head, which can’t be said of many batsmen today, and continues to build his innings with the occasional single. That’s drinks.
42nd over: Ireland 147-6 (O’Brien 13, Adair 2) Sam Curran replaces Stuart Broad (15-5-33-2). A textbook inswinger is jammed behind the flap of the pad by O’Brien, who then steers a single to third man. Curran got his inswinger going nicely in that spell.
41st over: Ireland 146-6 (O’Brien 12, Adair 2) We’re having a few technical problems I’m afraid. Kevin O’Brien has batted calmly amid the wreckage, and he is Ireland’s main hope of a big first-innings lead. It’s been a fine comeback from England: the last nine overs have brought 14 runs and four wickets.
40th over: Ireland 143-6 (O’Brien 9, Adair 2) “That is what excites me about Olly Stone,” says Gary Naylor. “He is, in English terms, a once-in-a-generation fast bowler. Maybe longer than that.”
Yes, I know what you mean. He’s not just a fast bowler, he’s a wildcard, and it’s a long time since we’ve had one of those. There are still loads of rough edges, not to mention injury worries, but he has huge potential.
WICKET! Ireland 141-6 (Thompson b Broad 0)
Another one gone! Thompson shoulders arms and watches in horror as the ball comes down the slope to peg back the off stump. That was a poor stroke, or rather non-stroke, and Ireland have lost four wickets for nine runs.
38th over: Ireland 138-5 (O’Brien 6, Thompson 0) “I think a lot of England’s problems re: the Ashes come from Root,” says Andrew Hurley. “I can’t understand why he won’t bat at No3? Bayliss is right to say he’s as natural a No3 as there is, and right now his Test career not quite going as well as it should. Drop Denly (not good enough), Roy opens with Burns/someone else, and England select more middle order players as it’s where their strength is. I have doubts about Bairstow though, Starc to bowl him 4/5 times…”
Well, Kohli and Smith don’t bat No3, and I’ve always felt that a captain should bat where they feel comfortable. I suspect England would be a better team with Root as No3 and somebody else as captain. The problem is, I don’t know who that captain should be. I like the idea of Morgan and-for-my-next-tricking the Test team, but it’s probably not realistic.
37th over: Ireland 138-5 (O’Brien 6, Thompson 0) A double-wicket maiden from Stone, who is such an exciting prospect.
WICKET! Ireland 138-5 (Wilson c Root b Stone 0)
Two wickets in the over for Olly Stone! Wilson, softened up by a vicious bouncer first ball, fenced loosely outside off stump and was snaffled in the slips by Root. Textbook fast bowling from Stone, who has officially Got Something.
WICKET! Ireland 138-4 (Balbirnie b Stone 55)
Now that’s how to take a first Test wicket. Olly Stone has cleaned up Andrew Balbirnie with a scintillating full-length outswinger. Balbirnie tried to whip to leg, missed and lost his middle stump. That was very similar to Dale Steyn’s magic ball to Michael Vaughan on his Test debut 15 years ago.
36th over: Ireland 138-3 (Balbirnie 55, O’Brien 6) Broad, who played in that match in Bangalore eight years ago, would love to get the dangerous O’Brien early on. If he does, England will be right back in the match. I assumed O’Brien was a beery slogger back then but it’s been clear for some time that he is a proper batsman: he follows some positive defensive strokes with a gorgeous drive to the extra cover boundary. That was one of the shots of the day.
35th over: Ireland 134-3 (Balbirnie 55, O’Brien 2) “Afternoon Rob,” says Alex Bramble. “Is there an answer to a three-
year problem by next Thursday? On Jason Roy, the Warner/Sehwag comparisons are potentially justified (for me he’s in the same talent stratosphere), but as Butch said on Cricinfo the other day, wouldn’t it be better to open with someone else (Sibley?) and have Roy at three, where he’s potentially got a tad more protection from the hazards of hard hands trying to counter early nibble?”
I suspect England will muddle through for the summer, and then invest in young players (probably Sibley, perhaps Zak Crawley) come the winter. I agree on Roy at No3. The other thing to consider is that, if England are hammered in the Ashes, which is not beyond the realms, Root might not survive. If he isn’t captain, he could bat No3. Either way, I fear this could be a tumultuous few months. Sod it, who cares.
34th over: Ireland 133-3 (Balbirnie 55, O’Brien 1) That was a perky innings from Stirling on his home ground – 36 from 43 balls. The new batsman is Kevin O’Brien, scorer of Ireland’s first Test century – and that astonishing 50-ball hundred to beat England at the 2011 World Cup. He gets off the mark with an inside edge off his first ball.
“Let’s face it,” says Mike Daniels. “You can’t blame the England team for being out of sorts today – we’re all feeling the strain of seeing Johnson become PM.”
On the plus side… no.
WICKET! Ireland 132-3 (Stirling LBW b Broad 36)
Stuart Broad, who has been England’s best bowler by a distance, finally gets his first wicket. Stirling played around a sharp nipbacker and was given out LBW by Aleem Dar. He reviewed, hoping the ball might be bouncing over the top of the stumps. It wasn’t.
33rd over: Ireland 132-2 (Balbirnie 55, Stirling 36) Olly Stone replaces Chris Woakes, who has had an exceedingly poor day. It’s hard to be too critical, although it may have implications for his Ashes chances. Balbirnie thick edges a good outswinger for four and is beaten by the next delivery.
“It’s probably too early/unbelievable for people to get too excited, hence the atmosphere,” says Oliver O’Callaghan. “Wait ‘til the main men arrive on Friday. If Ireland are still in the box seat then, I imagine we’ll be going buck mad.”
There are 42 overs remaining today, although we’ll probably only get around 35. Either way, this is such an important session. If Ireland are, say, 250 for three at the close, England will be in fifty shades of bother.
“Hi Rob,” writes Dan. “Was out on my postal delivery route this morning, checked my phone at half 12 expecting to see England well on top. Can’t believe it. I fell in love with cricket in the 2005 Ashes as a 10-year-old. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d see an Irish team playing like this at Lord’s. Absolutely brilliant.”
It really is – and imagine how many 10-year-olds will fall in love with cricket because of it.
Tea: Ireland lead by 42 runs
32nd over: Ireland 127-2 (Balbirnie 51, Stirling 36) That’s tea, and England should be fed nothing but the gruellest gruel.
“As a cricket-loving Irishman I am very much enjoying this Test,” says Niall Mullen. “Can we say yet whether this is the equivalent of Tottenham going 3-0 against Manchester United in the early 2000s where you knew, with grim inevitability, that United would turn it around and then some or is it more Tottenham going 3-0 up against United nowadays?”
It all seemed very cute when England were skittled for 85 – yes, haha, well done plucky Ireland, gotta love ’em, but you do realise England are going to dismiss you for 110 and then score 800 in their second innings? This partnership has changed the mood of the match, and now Ireland have a glorious chance of experiencing a career-defining euphoria.
31st over: Ireland 123-2 (Balbirnie 50, Stirling 32) Balbirnie chases a very wide outswinger from Woakes and slices it to third man for four. He gets another boundary later in the over, flicking an inswinger wide of mid-on, and then completes a brilliant half-century from just 56 balls. This has been a quietly extraordinary partnership – they’ve added 78 at better than a run a ball, having come in when 12 wickets had gone down for 130.
30th over: Ireland 114-2 (Balbirnie 41, Stirling 32) Balbirnie edges a good delivery from Moeen wide of slip for three. England look more than a little devoid of purpose.
“Well, this is exciting isn’t it?” says Matt Emerson. “It certainly makes my trip to Lord’s tomorrow far more interesting than I was expecting it to be, even factoring in the utter Englandness of our current Test team. I know they won’t, but part of me wants Ireland to declare at about 5.30 this afternoon so they can have us 18-3 at stumps…”
29th over: Ireland 111-2 (Balbirnie 38, Stirling 32) Woakes replaces Leach and restores a bit of order by conceding only four runs from the over. Yes, I am aware of the ludicrousness of the preceding sentence.
It’s strange – we are watching what might become one of the biggest upsets in cricket history, yet the atmosphere is pretty low-key. It’s as if England are 111-2 in reply to Ireland’s 85 all out, rather than the other way round.
28th over: Ireland 107-2 (Balbirnie 35, Stirling 31) Moeen Ali comes into the attack and is milked for seven easy runs. The ball is doing very little, and Ireland have a great chance to bat England out of the match, already.
If they get a lead of 250 – and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t – I think they’ll add Lord’s 2019 to Stuttgart 1988, Bangalore 2011 and various rugby wins I know nothing about.
27th over: Ireland 100-2 (Balbirnie 32, Stirling 27) Ireland were 28/1 to win this morning. They’re now 7/4, which is still pretty generous. Bairstow screams for LBW when Stirling works Leach round the corner for a single; I think he thought the ball hit Stirling on the toe. I hope that’s what he thought, because otherwise the World Cup win really has impacted upon his noggin. Balbirnie laps the next ball for four and then takes a single to bring up an initiative-seizing fifty partnership from only 47 balls. Leach’s first three overs have gone for 26.
“Notwithstanding Ireland’s almost flawless Test match cricket, Root and Bairstow have played like two tired and jaded men – like the Indians (ex Rahul Dravid) did after their World Cup win in 2011,” says Gary Naylor. “To state the bleedin’ obvious, this is not a good sign.”
26th over: Ireland 89-2 (Balbirnie 23, Stirling 25) Broad is square-driven confidently for four by Balbirnie, a boundary that takes Ireland into the lead. Haha, this is wonderful stuff.
On the subject of bowling faces, have we had Daffy DeFreitas? I always thought he looked like he was in the middle of a peculiarly painful orgasm.
25th over: Ireland 85-2 (Balbirnie 19, Stirling 25) It’s been a day when the home players have excelled – the Middlesex players, not the England ones. Stirling continues his calculated attack by dragging Leach wide of mid-on for four. He has raced to 25 from 26 balls.
24th over: Ireland 79-2 (Balbirnie 19, Stirling 18) Stirling is dropped by Root at first slip! It was a relatively straightforward low chance off the bowling of Broad, but Root crouched almost absent-mindedly and the ball went through his hands. Root’s head is certainly at Lord’s – but I suspect it’s there on 14 July 2019, not 24 July. Balbirnie ends another frustrating over for Broad by lacing a fine extra cover drive for four.
“Afternoon Rob,” says Kim Thonger. “I think England’s best strategy now might be containment. Keep Ireland down to 600 for 3 when they declared at tea on Friday. Then send Stone and Leach out to dead bat the last four sessions to save the game.”
A session and a half, it took.
23rd over: Ireland 72-2 (Balbirnie 14, Stirling 17) Cheers Daniel, hello everyone. Jack Leach comes into the attack, replacing Sam Curran, and his first three balls are lap-swept for a total of eight runs by Stirling. All three shots were premeditated, with the second going to the boundary. Joe Root responds by moving short leg to leg slip, and Stirling puts the shot away for the time being.
22nd over: Ireland 63-2 (Balbirnie 14, Stirling 8) This match should be a goodun for young Stuart, grooving himself and such, but also working up requisite temper for the Australians. He’ll be brushing teeth with a blowtorch by this time next week, because have a look! Broad finds Balbirnie’s outside edge and Root dives left while Bairstow stands pondering the meaning of life! The ball rushes away for four, and that’s drinks; Rob Smyth will take you through to the close. You can email him on firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet @UffMarone.
21st over: Ireland 59-2 (Balbirnie 10, Stirling 8) Balburnie has been in great nick of late, and his drives Curran’s first ball for four then, after a single and a dot, England try for a new ball; it passes through the ring so Broad suggests another go. Two dots follow, then Stirling absolutely humps a straight one through midwicket for four; is it time for Jack Leach?
Of course, the other thing we got from Shoaib was some of the greatest appealing the world has ever seen.
20th over: Ireland 50-2 (Balbirnie 5, Stirling 4) Stirling semi-skips down to Broad and edges him for four in the region of third man; Broad shakes him warmly by the hand before collapsing with the hilarity of it all, then creases again when his final ball is edged short of Roy at two … well short.