Cricket

Ireland set for landmark Lord’s Test

Prepping for the occasion: Ireland's Lorcan Tucker and Simranjit Singh get ready for their Lord’s assignment.

Prepping for the occasion: Ireland's Lorcan Tucker and Simranjit Singh get ready for their Lord’s assignment.   | Photo Credit: Reuters

Chance for the Irish to pull a fast one on England.

Ireland’s march to becoming a full-fledged member of cricket’s elite will reach another important staging post when it plays its first Test against England at Lord’s on Wednesday.

The Irishmen made their Test debut last year, suffering a final-day defeat by Pakistan in Dublin. However, they were well beaten by fellow newcomer Afghanistan in their second Test in March this year.

Since the turn of the century, Ireland has become known for their one-day exploits, beating Pakistan (2007) and England (2011) at World Cups.

Highlight

The Lord’s match is set to be the highlight of Ireland’s year given it did not qualify for the World Cup.

The sport has a long history in Ireland and cricket was hugely popular there in the 19th century. But a rising tide of Irish nationalism and the growth of the Gaelic Athletic Association led to cricket being declared a “garrison” or “foreign” game.

Irish cricket went into something of a retreat although memorable occasions such as a televised win over the touring West Indies in 1969 helped to change attitudes.

Several of the present side have played county cricket, including Tim Murtagh, a stalwart for Middlesex, who recently took his 800th First Class wicket.

Fast bowler Boyd Rankin was briefly an England player when that was the only way Irishmen could play Test cricket before switching back. “It is a dream come true, and it is something I never thought would happen in my playing career,” said Rankin, who played just the one Test for England on the ill-fated 2013-14 Ashes tour of Australia.

England will be resting several of its World Cup stars, including fast bowler Jofra Archer, Ben Stokes and batsman Jos Buttler.

Eoin Morgan, the victorious Dublin-born captain, no longer plays Test cricket with Joe Root, a fellow World Cup winner, in charge.

Anderson out

But England could still field Test new-ball bowler Stuart Broad, with all-time leading wicket-taker James Anderson ruled out with a calf injury. Somerset’s Lewis Gregory and Warwickshire’s Olly Stone could come into the attack. As for the batting, England could give a Test debut to World Cup-winning opener Jason Roy.

The match will only last a maximum of four days rather than the standard five, a consequence both of being shoehorned into the narrow gap between the end of the World Cup and the start of England’s five-Test Ashes series against Australia next month and a desire by officials to experiment with “spectator-friendly” playing hours. Certainly an Ireland win would be a huge upset.

“In my generation I don’t think any of us expected to be playing a Test at Lord’s, so to have the opportunity is great,” said Ireland wicketkeeper Gary Wilson. “But we mustn’t lose sight of the fact that we have to come here and perform as well. I mean that’s what it is about, it’s not just turning up and having all the fanfare around Lord’s.

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 5:59:02 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/ireland-set-for-landmark-lords-test/article28692262.ece

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