Resistance of Ireland tail-enders ensures England must bat again at Lord’s
Tail-enders Mark Adair and Andy McBrine produced their own version of ‘Bazball’ with a record-breaking 163-run partnership for Ireland in Test cricket to help them avoid an innings defeat against England at Lord’s.
Predictions before day three started ranged from whether England would have victory wrapped up by lunch or by the time the FA Cup final got under way at 3pm.
Ireland needed 255 runs to force Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum’s side to bat again in this one-off Test and were without the injured James McCollum. However, Harry Tector (51) and Lorcan Tucker (44) ensured 118 runs were scored in the morning session for the loss of only three wickets.
Adair and McBrine then upped the ante after lunch, launching astonishing attacks on Stuart Broad and Jack Leach before Matthew Potts bounced out number nine Adair for 88 after 12 fours and two sixes.
Josh Tongue continued his fine debut by claiming five wickets but McBrine walked off unbeaten on 85 at the end of an extended afternoon session where Graham Hume’s back-to-back boundaries off Joe Root guided Ireland to 356 for eight and into a narrow four-run lead.
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 Ireland made it to the close on Friday evening on 97 for three.
With McCollum retired hurt, the onus was on Tector and wicketkeeper Tucker, who after an observant first three overs started to play his shots.
A skip down the wicket saw him crunch Potts away to the boundary for four and two more followed to bring up the half-century partnership with Tector.
It was Ireland’s first half-century stand of the Test but a breakthrough followed when Stokes, after watching Potts go agonising close to a superb caught and bowled against Tucker, introduced Leach, who struck with his second ball.
Tucker missed his sweep shot and gloved onto his own stumps to walk off for a well-made 44 off 64 balls.
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 and further applause followed when he reached 50 with a scampered two.
Tector’s celebrations quickly ended when the very next ball he cut straight to Harry Brook at backward point to give Tongue a fortuitous fourth scalp to depart for a well-made 51 off 98 balls.
Curtis Campher picked out Stokes at short fine leg. Of more significance was the grimace on the face of England’s captain, who took the catch at chest height but hobbled to join the celebrations with all eyes on his troublesome left knee ahead of five Ashes Tests during the next two months.
There would be no early finish before lunch with Adair taking a shine to Joe Root, smashing two maximums to bring up Ireland’s 200. He then crunched three consecutive fours off Broad to register 50 from 47 balls.
McBrine brought up the hundred partnership off only 106 balls and brought up his half-century with a reverse sweep.
With Adair closing in on a century down the other end, talk turned to whether he could beat Stokes’ 85-ball ton at Lord’s but Potts clinched the much-needed breakthrough.
Adair departed after scoring 88 in a record 163-run partnership for Ireland in Test cricket.
Fionn Hand walked out with Ireland still needing 27 to avoid an innings defeat but he edged Tongue to Zak Crawley at second slip to give the Worcestershire seamer his maiden five-wicket haul to put himself on the honours board.
Last-man Hume remained unflustered and when he hit Root for back-to-back boundaries during the 83rd over, it meant England would bat again after tea.