Tector half-century helps Ireland hold up England victory charge
Harry Tector passed fifty for Ireland to hold up England’s victory charge in the one-off Test at Lord’s during an entertaining morning session on day three.
Ireland played expansively despite the daunting task in front of them with 118 runs added and only three wickets lost, although Tector (51), Lorcan Tucker (44) and Curtis Campher (19) were unable to kick on after starts.
When Ireland’s number eight and nine joined forces half an hour before lunch, the end looked nigh but Mark Adair smashed an unbeaten 32 and Andy McBrine helped himself to 19 not out to ensure their side walked off on 215 for six, still 137 runs from making England bat again.
Huge scores in quick time from Ben Duckett (182) and Ollie Pope (205) in England’s 524 for four declared raised the possibility a result may occur inside two days, but Tector stood firm to ensure Ireland made it to the close on Friday evening on 97 for three.
The tourists were effectively four down though after opener James McCollum retired hurt with a twisted ankle and while scans showed no fracture, he was deemed “unlikely” to feature again at Lord’s.
It increased the onus on Tector and wicketkeeper Tucker, who after a observant first three overs started to play his shots.
A skip down the wicket saw him crunch Matthew Potts away to the boundary for four and two more followed when the Durham seamer next had the ball in hand to bring up the fifty partnership with Tector.
It was Ireland’s first half-century stand of the Test and Stuart Broad was the next to take punishment from Tucker with another sumptuous drive down the ground, but a breakthrough followed for England.
Captain Ben Stokes, after watching Potts go agonising close to a superb caught and bowled against Tucker from the previous over, introduced Jack Leach and the spinner struck with his second ball.
Tucker missed his sweep shot and could only glove Leach’s delivery onto his own stumps to walk off for a well-made 44 off 64 balls.
Leach’s wicket maiden continued his growing confidence before the Ashes after three wickets in the first innings with some attacking fields.
Ireland’s number four Tector was still there and after it took him 12 balls to add to his overnight 33, he got his first boundary of the morning by hitting Leach down the ground.
Tector was happy to remain watchful with Campher willing to take the attack to England after he got off the mark with a sweep for four and followed it up with a slog-sweep off Joe Root that was caught by a spectator in the Grandstand.
Two more boundaries from Campher off Josh Tongue’s first over saw Ireland move beyond 150 and reduce the deficit to under 200.
Further applause followed when Tector reached fifty when he scampered through for two, but the very next ball he cut straight to Harry Brook at backward point to give Tongue a fortuitous fourth scalp of the innings and depart for a well-made 51 off 98 balls.
Campher followed him back to the pavilion in the next over when he swept Root to Stokes at short fine leg, but more significantly was the grimace on the face of England’s captain.
Stokes took the catch at chest height but hobbled rather than walked to celebrate with his team-mates, with all eyes on his troublesome left knee ahead of five Ashes Tests during the next two months.
Adair’s arrival at the crease did not spark further wickets but sixes instead with the seamer taking a shine to Root, who went for 45 runs in his six overs with the tailender putting on a unbroken fifty partnership with McBrine to make sure Ireland took the four-day match into an eighth session.