Josh sets Tongues wagging as England hammer Ireland
England started this eagerly-anticipated Ashes summer with a 10-wicket victory over Ireland in three days at Lord’s.
Ollie Pope’s 205 and a second Test century for Ben Duckett saw England declare on 524 for four and despite a spirited third-day display with the bat by Ireland, they were all out for 362 to set an easy target of 11 following their below-par 172 on day one.
Here, the PA news agency takes a look at how much we learned from this one-off Test.
Josh Tongue passed his Ashes audition with five for 66 in Ireland’s second innings to put his name on the honours board and leave an impression on his captain. Ben Stokes revealed ahead of the four-day fixture that Tongue was selected due to his extra pace and he hit 91mph during an impressive first spell. Tongue, who came close to retiring from cricket during a 15-month absence from the game due to a nerve problem in his shoulder, eased between an enforcer role and pitching it up as England’s third seamer. With 11 County Championship wickets to his name, including a certain Steve Smith, he is now a genuine option for the Ashes after being included in the squad for the first two Tests.
An England bucket hat featured regularly throughout this Test but fittingly it was Duckett who plugged the new must-buy item of the summer on England’s official Twitter account. Duckett wore the hat after his masterful 182 that saw him set a new record for the quickest Test 150 at Lord’s, beating Don Bradman’s effort in the 1930 Ashes series. Since his December recall, Duckett has scored 50 or more six times in six Tests. He cut, drove and flicked off his pads for boundaries all around the wicket to back up the 177 he hit for Nottinghamshire at Lord’s in April. After finally being given the chance to play his natural red-ball game in international cricket, the 28-year-old looks set for a key Ashes role.
England rattled along at six runs an over on their way to 524 before they declared after tea on day two. Duckett and Pope scored 174 in the morning, but that was bettered in the afternoon with 178 runs plundered before captain Stokes ended the run-fest after 82.4 overs. If Harry Brook, Jonny Bairstow and the England skipper himself had batted for a significant amount of time, who knows what records could have fallen? While it was another excellent batting display for England, the asterisk on it will be Ireland’s one-paced attack. There is no doubt England’s achievement of scoring 500 on day one in Rawalpindi was a better feat and Pat Cummins and co will not provide so many freebies come June 16 at Edgbaston.
Stokes acknowledged after England’s 10-wicket victory that he knew when he declared after tea on day two that he would face questions over failing to let Brook, Bairstow and himself get time in the middle before the Ashes opener. It felt justified, especially for someone like Yorkshire batter Brook who enjoyed a phenomenal winter and even hit a maiden century in the Indian Premier League in April, only to be dropped after a string of ducks. But Stokes does not prescribe to that opinion and laughed off the “old skool” view his players need “game practice” given the volume of cricket they play. Maybe a fair point!
Josh Little’s name dominated the build-up from an Ireland perspective after the seamer was “rested” ahead of his nation’s 50-over World Cup qualification tournament later this month following his IPL exploits. Among a catalogue of reasons behind the decision, Cricket Ireland’s Richard Holdsworth worryingly admitted the Lord’s Test was a “special occasion but not a pinnacle event.” The rewards for Ireland qualifying for the World Cup are great but Little’s absence hurt a bowling attack lacking variation. With his stock high in franchise circles, Little may never play Test cricket.