Day 3 of 4: England 524-4 dec 12-0 beat Ireland 362-9 & 172 (Mark Adair 88, Andy McBrine 86no; Josh Tongue 5-66) by 10 wkts
In the end, Ireland’s grit papered over enough cracks on this occasion to send the Lord’s faithful home happy. By scoring 362 runs to make England bat again, Ireland avoided a third innings defeat in succession in Test matches.
Yet with Andy McBrine running out of partners on 86, and Mark Adair (88) – and to a lesser extent Harry Tector (51) – missing out on centuries that would have put their names on the honours board, the individual accolades that would have rendered this defeat a perfect one given the toil of the previous two days proved elusive.
Regardless, that victory did not come for England until into the evening session ensured Ireland salvaged something from the game, the Saturday crowd went home entertained and the powers that be avoided having to dish out ticket refunds had England wrapped things up as early in the day as they may well have done.
Ireland’s fightback started in the morning with Lorcan Tucker starting positively, continuing on his efforts last night. A dance down the pitch and a cracking cover drive signalled his intent, with further flicks and punches down the ground bringing further reward.
Tucker’s fun was ended by left-arm spinner Jack Leach for the second time in the match. Tucker backs his sweep shot, England did not given they brought the field up. Ireland’s wicketkeeper moved across to sweep fine, but could only glove the ball on to his leg stump, departing for 44.
Tector, the other unbeaten overnight batter, started more sedately, taking 12 deliveries to score his first of the day. Joined by Curtis Campher, the pair climbed into Leach and Joe Root’s part-time offies.
Tector brought up his 50 off 97 balls but, as happened in the first innings, an instinctive shot brought his demise, this time a flash at a wide delivery flying straight to gully. A half-century at Lord’s is not to be sniffed at, but given Tector’s record of turning starts into big scores of late, you couldn’t escape the feeling a chance for a maiden Test century at Lord’s was wasted.
Campher, too, fell into a Ben Stokes trap, looking to sweep Leach fine but instead picking out the fielder for that exact stroke.
By contrast, Adair displayed the best way of sweeping, staying still in the crease and hitting the ball hard, trusting that the gap would be hit often enough to make the shot worth it. At one point he had only scored one run on the offside as he too slogged Root into the stands.
At the other end, McBrine drove Root beautifully while both survived a short ball barrage to put on Ireland’s highest Test partnership for any wicket, 163.
Adair flirted with danger when trying to upper cut the short ball with deep catchers in place, but it proved a productive stroke. That was until it led to his demise. Seemingly coasting his way to a century, an upper cut too many led to an edge which Jonny Bairstow took comfortably.
Fionn Hand entered and put away his usual attacking game in a bid to stay in long enough to guide McBrine through to his 100. The task fell short when he nicked a Josh Tongue delivery, offering the debutant his first Test five-wicket haul.
A pair of Graham Hume drives put Ireland into the lead, cue the biggest cheer of the day, but he too failed to stick around for McBrine when Stuart Broad disturbed his stumps. James McCollum, in a moon boot and on crutches after picking up an ankle injury last night, could not bat, meaning Ireland’s innings ended after nine wickets.
If England were frustrated by having to bat again, they ensured they nearly did it as fast as was mathematically possible. Needing 11 runs, Zak Crawley hit three boundaries off Adair from just four deliveries, a sole dot blemishing what would have been a perfect chase. The brutal ending reminded all present, not that it was required, just how dominant England have been over the previous three days despite a resolute Irish rearguard.