George Dobell, in ESPNcricinfo, 26 July 2019, where the title is “Chris Woakes and Stuart Broad wreck Ireland dream in a session”
England have completed one of the great comeback victories in Test history after bowling out Ireland for 38 in the fourth innings at Lord’s.
Not since 1907, when England defeated South Africa in Leeds despite having made just 76 in their first innings, has a side won a Test having made such a low first-innings score. But despite England being bowled out for 85 before lunch on the first day, a devastating spell of new ball bowling from Chris Woakes and Stuart Broad saw Ireland bowled out in just 15.4 overs to leave England the victors by 143 runs. It is the fifth lowest first-innings total in history to have resulted in a win and the first Test since 1887 in which two sides have each been bowled out in a single session.
Ireland had been set just 182 to win after Stuart Thompson struck with the first ball of the morning. But in gloomy conditions, Woakes and Broad bowled with great control and gained sharp movement to dismiss them for the lowest total in the history of Tests on this ground (the previous lowest was 42 made by India against England in 1974) and in the fewest number of deliveries (94).
It is the seventh lowest total in Test history and the lowest anywhere since South Africa were bowled out for 36 in Melbourne in 1932. Woakes finished with 6 for 17 – his Test-best figures – in completing the third five-for of his Test career; all three have come at Lord’s.
While Ireland looked every inch the equal of England for much of this game, in the defining moments the extra experience and quality showed. And sensing Ireland’s nervousness in gloomy conditions, Broad and Woakes seemed to raise their game in a manner they struggled to achieve in the first innings. Supported by some fine catching in the cordon, England will know the final margin of victory – and the fact that it was achieved in just seven sessions – does not fully reflect the competitive nature of the entire match.
The day had started well for Ireland. Stuart Thompson bowled Olly Stone with the first ball of the day – one that nipped back sharply down the slope to send the leg-stump cartwheeling – to end the England innings and dismiss them for 303.
But perhaps that degree of movement boded ill for Ireland. Play was first delayed and then interrupted by rain and, with the floodlights on and the conditions murky, it was pretty much ideal for England’s seamers. And in such conditions and with this Duke’s ball, they are a tough proposition.
While Ireland would have hoped for a steady start to settle nerves in a dressing room hunting a first win in Test cricket, they lost their captain, William Porterfield, in just the fourth over. Forced to play at one angled across him, Porterfield edged a low chance which was brilliantly taken, one handed and diving to his left, by Jonny Bairstow. Andrew Balbirnie, perhaps unsettled by Broad’s pace and hostility, was drawn into poking at one he could have left – Joe Root took the chance at first slip – before Paul Stirling, set up by one that lifted and left him, was bowled next ball by one that came into him up the slope; a fine piece of bowling from Woakes.
From there things became really ugly for Ireland. They lost three wickets with their score on 24 – James McCollom edging a well-directed outswinger; Gary Wilson leg before to one that came up the slope – a decision won by reviewing the umpire’s original not out call – and Kevin O’Brien was trapped in front by one that nipped back sharply to strike him on the pad.
While Mark Adair pulled a six off Broad, the bowler immediately had his revenge as he beat a lavish drive with a fuller delivery, Thompson steered one to slip and Andy McBrine poked at one that left him. By the time Tim Murtagh, unfortunate to be on the losing side after claiming 5 for 13 on the first morning, was bowled Ireland were reeling. England had not successfully defended such a low target in a Test this century.
England will know they will have to improve their performance substantially if they are to prevail in the Ashes. They collapsed in both innings, after all, and were saved by a most improbable intervention from their nightwatchman, Jack Leach, who was named man of the match for is batting. But they will be encouraged that, under pressure and with the match to be defined, they were able to step up their standards considerably.
For Ireland this innings will sting for some time. And perhaps they will rue their first innings, too: at 132-2 they had this game at their mercy. Had they been able to bat into the second day, in far better batting conditions, they could have taken this game beyond England. But perhaps they, too, can take encouragement from the fact that they – in their third Test – were right in the game for the first three innings against a side playing their 1,011th Test. Give more opportunity, given more experience they will take these opportunities.
Either way, for the second time in as many weeks, this old ground has served up a wonderfully dramatic, impossibly entertaining and absurdly unlikely match. A reminder, surely, that whatever the format, cricket’s charms remain undimmed.