Saturday 24 August 2019

Porterfield 'gutted' as conditions play havoc with Ireland's Lord's chase

Ireland captain William Porterfield cuts a dejected figure after the Test defeat. Photo: Matt Impey/Sportsfile
Ireland captain William Porterfield cuts a dejected figure after the Test defeat. Photo: Matt Impey/Sportsfile

David Townsend

The dream of a stunning first Test victory at Lord's was snatched away from Ireland yesterday in dramatic fashion as a perfect storm of unplayable batting conditions and superb swing and seam bowling hurried England to a 143-run win.

Record books will show Ireland were bowled out for 38 - the lowest innings score in a Test at the 'Home of Cricket' - in only 15.4 overs; they won't show that under leaden skies with the floodlights on there was never a chance of making the 182 needed for victory.

Cricket can be a cruel game and if Ireland had chased that target in sunshine a day before, or if England's second innings had started in similar conditions with the ball doing all sorts, then the Boys in Green would have been celebrating the most famous of victories.

Knowing they were competitive and had won more of the seven sessions of the Test than they lost will be of little consolation after the weather gods showed up to save England's blushes.

The visitors' dressing room was buoyant before play, with prankster Tim Murtagh creeping up behind James McCollum on the balcony and pulling down the youngster's trousers to reveal his underpants to the TV cameras. But in the middle it was soon Ireland who were exposed.

The third day could not have started better as Stuart Thompson's first ball jagged back to knock out the leg stump of last man Olly Stone, dismissing England for 303 and setting what looked a modest winning target, but the exaggerated movement was an omen.

Once England's opening bowlers Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes found their range, they were beating the bat more often than not and it was only a matter of time before their pace and movement was delivering its rewards.

Skipper William Porterfield was the first to go, well caught by Jonny Bairstow diving in front of slip, then the big two fell in the space of four balls - Andy Balbirnie edging to first slip to give Joe Root the first of four catches and Paul Stirling bowled between bat and pad.

McCollum showed good technique and was the only Ireland batsman to make it into double figures but two balls after he edged to slip on 11, Gary Wilson was lbw for his second duck of the match and the game was up when Kevin O'Brien was also pinned in front.

Mark Adair struck a defiant six over mid-wicket after being struck on the helmet, but was then bowled next ball by Broad, who finished with four wickets. Woakes, who loves batting and bowling at Lord's, took 6-17.

"We're all gutted, it's a pretty quiet dressing-room at the moment," Porterfield said.

"When we have time to reflect we'll see the positives of having got ourselves in a position to win the game.

"We knew it was going to be tough with the lights on and the overheads and a bit of drizzle helping the ball move around and we had to somehow get through that first session and hopefully the sun would have come out after lunch and it might have been a different story."

Porterfield attributed Ireland's mid-innings slump on the first day as another factor in not pressing home the advantage of bowling out England for 85.

"We put ourselves in a strong position at tea, when we were 40-odd ahead and only two down, but then we had a poor 40 minutes where they fought back. We needed to come through that period and have still been batting at stumps.

"That first session will stay with us and Ireland fans for a long time, though, bowling England out before lunch at Lord's and Tim Murtagh taking five wickets and getting his name on the honours board is something that can't be taken away, no matter how disappointed we are now."

England captain Joe Root was pleased to emerge without a sizeable blemish against his side heading into next week's Ashes opener at Edgbaston but, having seen his own team bundled out for 85 on the first morning, he was less than impressed by the surface.

"I thought it was not even close to a fair contest between bat and ball throughout the whole game. First innings, last innings… when you are getting scores like that it tells a story in itself.

"From a batting point of view it's hard to take too much out of it on a surface like that."

Irish Independent

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