England’s World Cup honeymoon was gatecrashed in sensational fashion at Lord’s as Ireland skittled their hosts for a calamitous 85 before taking a 42-run lead on the first afternoon of the Specsavers Test.
Just 10 days after their greatest achievement in one-day cricket, England were back at the scene of the triumph to face their neighbours for the first time in the Test arena, an occasion that immediately brought them crashing down to earth.
Tim Murtagh, the 37-year-old Middlesex seamer who has spent a dozen years honing his craft at the home of cricket, led the Irish charge with a stunning return of five for 13 while debutant Mark Adair and one-time England bowler Boyd Rankin shared the remaining scalps.
Ireland, who lost to Pakistan and Afghanistan in their only other Test outings, then batted with diligence that evaded their hosts to reach 127 for two at tea. Sam Curran accounted for both openers but Andrew Balbirnie (51no) and Paul Stirling (35no) saw things through to the break.
Balbirnie was fortunate to do so, seeing one edge evade wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow while Joe Root dropped a second at slip, another black mark on a ragged day for England.
With Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler rested, the home XI contained five World Cup winners who contributed a total of seven runs and three ducks between them.
England were bowled out in a session for the fourth time since 2016 – having not done so at all in the previous 78 years – with Jason Roy setting the tone at the top.
After 84 ODIs the Surrey man’s stirring performances in the World Cup finally nudged him into the red ball team but it was an ignominious start.
Sent in to bat under baking skies after Root won the toss, Roy lasted only 11 balls and might have been out three times for his five runs. One inside edge squirmed past leg stump, a plumb lbw shout was silenced only because Adair overstepped and then he nicked Murtagh to slip, beaten by sideways movement.
A streaky stand of 28 between top-scorer Joe Denly (23) and Rory Burns threatened to develop into more but Ireland’s willingness to relentlessly attack the stumps despite the gentle pace of their strike bowlers paid rich dividends.
Denly was lbw to Adair and Burns feathered Murtagh to depart for an unconvincing six.
The familiar axis of Root and Bairstow now carried the burden but both joined the procession. Root was lbw to Adair for two, Will Porterfield wisely calling for DRS to uphold the appeal, and Bairstow’s stumps were rearranged by Murtagh after a senseless mow saw him bowled through the gate.
Murtagh also bagged Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes for ducks, caught behind and leg before, before Rankin joined the party. He had just become the first player to line up for England and against them since the Nawab of Pataudi did so for India in 1946, and marked the occasion with the wickets of Stuart Broad and Curran, the latter brilliantly held at short leg by James McCollum.
Adair returned to end a brief Olly Stone fightback, ending the innings in 23.4 overs just before the scheduled lunch break.
Broad and Woakes failed to attack as concisely as their oppositie numbers, allowing too many balls to sail wide or be left. Porterfield and McCollum duly ground out an opening stand of 32 before the Irish skipper turned Curran’s loosener to Jack Leach at midwicket.
Curran also persuaded McCollum to play on before Balbirnie and Stirling upped the pace to put 82 before tea at better than a run per ball.
Broad saw two edges come to nothing against Balbirnie, one sneaking between Bairstow and Root and the other put down by the England captain. He responded by unleashing a series of boundaries to take his side in front and pass 50 along the way.