England vs. Ireland, One Off Test* – Preview

After all of the euphoria of England winning the World Cup, we are back to the nuts and bolts of cricket and the format I love the most. Whilst if you’re English, the recent World Cup will live long in the memory of England finally winning a 50 over trophy, the truth be told that it was a format which was long and often tedious, not overly helped by pitches resembling that of a swamp, which made viewing on the dull side. So with the nation supposedly re-energised in their love of the game, cricket once again slides behind a paywall which only the privileged few are able to watch. The ECB showing once again that they deserve no credit in England’s recent white ball tournament victory.

So on the 24thJuly, a time which has seemed to last forever in many people’s eyes, we are finally greeted by our first Test Match of the summer – at least that’s what those at the ECB will try and tell you. The reason why I put an asterix next to the word ‘Test’ in the title is that whilst Ireland will treat it as a historic occasion and they rightly should, the England camp have barely shown their disdain for this match by making it a four day affair and appear to be at best treating it as a warm up for the Ashes and at worst are treating it as a beer match. Unfortunately for anyone who has followed cricket for some time, this will surprise no-one. The ECB along with their fellow accomplices that make up the big 3 have shown nothing but contempt in their treatment of the smaller Test playing nations and of the Associates. This might be the first time England have played Ireland in a Test Match, but history has shown us time and time again how England viewed playing against their neighbours during one day games in Malahide by sending a few token international players alongside those that should be playing for the England Lions instead. This occasion is no different. England have pretty much picked a second XI for this game except for the inclusions of Bairstow, Root, Broad, Burns and arguably Woakes and as a result, this team looks the weakest team on paper that I have seen for a long time.

The batting looks paper thin unless Burns, Root or Bairstow click or unless Jason Roy is able to transfer his white ball batting skills into the Test arena. I also must admit that thought of Denly batting at number 3 in the Ashes frightens the living daylights out of me. There is an over-reliance on all-rounders with Moeen likely to be asked to bat at 6, even though his batting has deteriorated dramatically over the last 2 years and there is a good chance that Curran and Woakes will be batting long before they would have hoped they had to. As for the bowling, I’m quite surprised that England have included 2 spinners, when the Lords pitch rarely deteriorates, unless England know something that we don’t. I am looking forward to see Ollie Stone bowl though, as it was clear he was highly thought of in the England camp with his call up to the Sri-Lanka tour before injury robbed him of the chance to play (an English quick bowler getting hurt, who’d have thought it!). It will also be interesting to see how Broad leads the attack in English conditions without his long-time partner in crime Sir Jimmy of Burnley, who might be quite glad his calf hasn’t fully healed just yet looking at the weather forecast.

As for the Ireland, whilst this will be a momentous occasion, it will probably be tinged with a bit of sadness that their application to play Test cricket has come when the side is on the downward path. The Ireland side of four years would have given England a real run for their money with Joyce, the O’Brian brothers in their prime and Trent Johnson opening the bowling alongside a fit Boyd Rankin; however this team is a mixture of experienced campaigners who are edging towards 40 rather than in their prime, a handful of decent youngsters and a few county stalwarts who have been phased out in favour of youth. Of course, those at the ICC and ECB will protest that they are protecting the value of the Test Match game and that both Ireland and Afghanistan should be thankful to get Test cricket at all, but as we know these are just white lies, as England certainly would rather just face Australia and India every summer and every winter to cash in. This match is likely to be tokenism in every word as we have seen by the absence of any build up to it on Sky and is likely seen more as an annoyance by the ECB rather than a chance to give our near neighbours the opportunity to develop their game.

As for the match itself, I would imagine that it will pretty much be a batsman’s paradise despite the green tinge on the pitch that George Dobell tweeted about earlier. If the skies are blue at Lords, there will be precious little swing or seam for the bowlers and with temperatures likely to be in the mid-30’s on Wednesday and Thursday, the Irish team might have to spend a fair bit of time in the field if they don’t win the toss tomorrow.

As ever, feel free to share your thoughts on the game below. TLG and I are both at Lords on Friday, though in separate stands I believe, and I’m at least hoping for some sort of competitive game even if the ECB couldn’t care less.


59 thoughts on “England vs. Ireland, One Off Test* – Preview

  1. Metatone Jul 23, 2019 / 6:47 pm

    Best hope for a competitive game I suspect is for Ireland to win the toss and bat.

    I will be interested to see if Broad is fit for Test cricket, I have a suspicion that age is catching up with him quicker than he thinks (and quicker than it did Jimmy, perhaps.)

    I live in hope Moeen’s batting form can return one of these days…

    Denly… I think here’s a pick that comes year too late. His red ball stats have been in declines.

    I’m not a Curran fan, I think he’s too similar to Woakes and of the two, I think Woakes is a better Test bowler at this stage. But I guess with Archer and Wood injured, that’s where we are. Curran will do well against Ireland, but get tonked by the Aussies, if picked.

    It will be interesting to see how Roy goes, although this is very much not an Ireland attack that will challenge all his weaknesses.

    Would be great if Stone can go well, he deserves some luck after that injury.

    Ireland… I simply haven’t seen enough of recently to comment overall, but it seems to me that any X factor comes with the bat – and that will be their trouble. England’s batting looks thin, but I just don’t see Ireland being able to exploit it on a Lords pitch likely baked out of bowling life.


  2. metatone Jul 23, 2019 / 7:00 pm

    I don’t know if my comment got lost or WordPressed, but I can’t be bothered to repeat it.
    Symbolically perhaps, the Tour de France has 5 contenders close to the leader (who we suspect can’t quite hold his slightly larger gap) and some great stages coming up, so I won’t be watching that much of most days of this Test.


    • Sean Jul 23, 2019 / 7:35 pm

      It went into spam for some reason that only WordPress knows. Found it and approved it….


      • metatone Jul 23, 2019 / 7:42 pm



  3. glenn Jul 23, 2019 / 7:03 pm

    I’m looking forward to seeing Ireland in a Test match in England. Although it Is one of those weird new 4 day ones. It will probably be the only time Ireland play England in a test in England – Bangladesh have not had a test in England since 2010.


  4. metatone Jul 23, 2019 / 7:14 pm

    Side note: I happen to be watching the T20 Surrey vs Middlesex and while I thought some of the WC commentary was bad on Sky, Rob Key is truly the pits.


    • metatone Jul 23, 2019 / 7:43 pm

      As it often does when he’s commentating, the thought occurs that England should push a massive wedge of money towards Kumar Sangakkara and beg him to be a part time batting coach, esp. for the younger players.


      • quebecer Jul 23, 2019 / 9:00 pm

        Not that it’s a bad idea, but to give Thorpe his due, I think there’s been genuine improvement in the batting of at least Root and Bairstow to show he’s doing well, and also how Ramprakash did not.

        P.S. And to echo both you and Sean, fingers crossed for Olly Stone.

        Liked by 2 people

        • metatone Jul 24, 2019 / 12:18 pm

          *looks at the scorecard*


          • Quebecer Jul 24, 2019 / 1:29 pm


            Are you looking at it through the gap between Bairstow”s bat and pad?

            Liked by 2 people

          • metatone Jul 24, 2019 / 2:21 pm

            I have windows with a smaller viewing gap than that.


  5. Mark Jul 23, 2019 / 10:08 pm

    Isn’t the only reason this match is taking place is so Lords can have its obligatory two Test matches a summer? They have already had a World Cup final as well this year, so the egg and bacon brigade haven’t been short changed.

    Five years ago I was in favour of these sort of matches because I thought the ICC was genuinely interested in growing the game. Now, after the the big three took control I don’t believe a word they say.

    I’m sure the Irish players will enjoy their four days, and there will be all the usual platitudes but let’s face it this match is pointless. England have put out a week team. So in reality it’s not a proper test match. Who delibrately picks a weaker team in a match that matters?


  6. Miami Dad's Six Jul 24, 2019 / 1:12 am

    Like you say, Irish cricket has regressed. They might never have a batsman like Joyce again, but even most of their county level players are now mid 30s. Part of me wondered if Eoin Morgan might make himself eligible for them now he’s completed his England mission, although with the respective pay packets on offer I can see that would be fanciful.

    I’d love it if they beat us.


    • dArthez Jul 24, 2019 / 5:52 am

      I think Morgan has displayed absolutely zero interest in representing Ireland since he was poached a decade ago, presumably to play Test cricket (which he did). The last time he featured for England in a Test was in 2012, and since then he has not even bothered to pretend he was interested in playing Test cricket (with far fewer complaints from the media than a certain South African born batsman got).

      But it is hard to argue with a salary of upwards of a million a year – it certainly seems to take precedence over pride in one’s nation. Not that I would be arguing that he should represent Ireland, but would he represent England, if the salaries and fixtures of Ireland were comparable?

      But that is the problem of cricket. The nation of one’s birth / poaching basically determines how much you can make, rather than that it is determined by how skilled you are (and you really hit the jackpot if you are English / Australian and are skilled). Since T20 does not care about nationality as much as the international game, we now have the situation that the best players from most countries can make more playing in T20 leagues than in the international game (and obviously that would also apply to the Irish if they were good at T20 too).

      Soon enough the rot may accelerate too. Other sports are not as restrictive as cricket, and it may well be that other sports get the best talents in places like South Africa, Sri Lanka and the West Indies. Cricket as a religion is hard to sustain when you’re utterly crap at it. See how long it is taking the West Indies to even get back to basic competitiveness for an example, while cricket was pretty much a way of life over there a few decades ago.

      There is no attempt from the powers that be to address the imbalances that will tear the international game apart (honestly, I would not be surprised if Northants XI would give a better red ball game than say South Africa or Sri Lanka in 2029 to England). The best we can hope for is an endless Test tri-series between India, England and Australia. How utterly exciting.

      As for the Irish, they got Test status a decade too late. So unless a new golden generation somehow arises, their trajectory may be even worse than Bangladesh’s, if it does not get prematurely aborted by the ICC / general indifference from the bigger boards.


  7. Rooto Jul 24, 2019 / 9:17 am

    Ireland showed, in their test against Pakistan, that what they lack in natural talent/ resources they try hard to make up in match craft (experience) and tenacity. It’s where they differ from Afghanistan, who got slaughtered by India in their own debut test.
    If – big if – they hit the ground running and win the toss, they could put England on the back foot and then hang in there. Come on Ireland! At least take it to the final day!


    • dArthez Jul 24, 2019 / 9:35 am

      They lost the toss. I’d be surprised if the Test lasts 3 days, weather permitting. Another success story for the ICC.


      • dArthez Jul 24, 2019 / 11:18 am

        It might not even last 2 full days, due to some rather average batting by England …

        Liked by 1 person

    • quebecer Jul 25, 2019 / 3:40 am

      Rooto: Fucking hate your new avatar pic thing. You’re playing with my mind, man.


  8. dArthez Jul 24, 2019 / 10:13 am

    The experiment of Roy was really what everybody should have expected to happen.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. metatone Jul 24, 2019 / 10:14 am

    England won the toss.
    Roy had a life from a No Ball, but now he’s edged one from Murtagh…

    Start looking for a different opener for the Ashes…

    Not sure the pitch will help Ireland turn an early wicket into big inroads though. Looks pretty flat overall.


    • metatone Jul 24, 2019 / 10:14 am

      That said, out comes Denly to take guard and I can see another wicket not taking too long…


      • dlpthomas Jul 24, 2019 / 10:49 am

        The Australian bowlers will be quaking in their boots.


        • Sean Jul 24, 2019 / 10:56 am

          36-3, it’s like the English Test side never went away..


          • dlpthomas Jul 24, 2019 / 11:09 am

            Maybe a few of them should go away.


          • dArthez Jul 24, 2019 / 11:19 am

            43/7. Are the ECB trying to introduce one day Tests?

            Liked by 1 person

  10. dlpthomas Jul 24, 2019 / 10:54 am

    England have an odd batting line up. It starts at number 4 and ends at number 8


    • dlpthomas Jul 24, 2019 / 11:12 am

      I may have been overly generous in that assessment.


  11. Miami Dad's Six Jul 24, 2019 / 11:09 am

    This is actually quite funny. 42-5.

    Shambolic ECB.


    • dlpthomas Jul 24, 2019 / 11:13 am

      5 for 6 in 20 balls


  12. dlpthomas Jul 24, 2019 / 11:11 am

    Your really asking for trouble when you pick a second 11 for a test match.


  13. Rooto Jul 24, 2019 / 11:26 am

    “17 Australian wickets fall in one day” was the headline at the Guardian. Oh what larks! Wonder who’s pointing fingers now…


    • mdpayne87 Jul 24, 2019 / 11:35 am

      Ashes will be 3 day affairs, the state of the batting lineups.


  14. metatone Jul 24, 2019 / 12:10 pm

    So I went to do some work, get back after grabbing a quick bite and… England are all out for 85.


    • Northern Light Jul 24, 2019 / 12:16 pm

      I know! I thought they wouldn’t get more than 50. Impressive display by the batsmen.


    • dArthez Jul 24, 2019 / 12:17 pm

      I am really not sure why Morgan, Rashid, and Wood are not playing. Even the one day side would struggle to be this dismal in a Test.

      But on the bright side, it is highly unlikely that 17 English wickets will fall today.


      • Sophie Jul 24, 2019 / 1:51 pm

        Rashid has a shoulder problem and Wood has god knows what problem, probably ankle. Morgan is probably fit, though.


  15. Benny Jul 24, 2019 / 12:32 pm

    Unless Ireland are cheeky and declare on 0 – 0


  16. Sherwick Jul 24, 2019 / 2:41 pm

    I’m enjoying this new The Hundred format, I must say!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. man in a barrel Jul 24, 2019 / 4:01 pm

    Is this one of those rare days when Roy does the thing called fielding?


  18. metatone Jul 24, 2019 / 4:38 pm

    Ireland’s first target should be a hundred run lead. 34 needed, 3 wickets in hand.


  19. Quebecer Jul 24, 2019 / 5:16 pm

    I really wish Chris Woakes was as good as everyone has been telling me he is for about 10 years now.

    Broad, Stone, and Scurran look like taking wickets every over they bowl. Woakes looks like he might hit 80mph at some point.


    • metatone Jul 24, 2019 / 5:21 pm

      I think he clearly is tank empty. You can argue whether or not he’s looked after himself properly, but it’s not unreasonable that he emptied the tank in the World Cup and needs more rest.


      • Quebecer Jul 24, 2019 / 5:27 pm

        That’s possibly a little generous.,old thing. He’s not being asked to bowl much, it’s against the weakest test batting line up (except ours) and it’s in helpful conditions… he can’t give 6-7 overs where he might take a wicket? I think we could expect that, couldn’t we?


        • metatone Jul 24, 2019 / 5:30 pm

          Haha, I’m reserving my ire for Broad who can’t seem to muster a yorker against Murtagh who is the most obvious candidate for one in the entire history of Test cricket.


          • metatone Jul 24, 2019 / 5:31 pm

            FFS Olly Stone, et tu?


          • Quebecer Jul 24, 2019 / 5:42 pm

            But Murtagh is a god. Thor wouldn’t get yorked would he? Same for Dial M.


    • dlpthomas Jul 25, 2019 / 4:30 am

      A couple of years ago Woakes was bowling up to 90 miles an hour. He looks a completely different bowler now.


        • Sean Jul 26, 2019 / 4:19 pm

          Murtagh would have picked up all 10 wickets in 5 overs in those conditions


  20. metatone Jul 24, 2019 / 5:30 pm

    Surprise surprise we’re behind the over rate by a long way.


    • dArthez Jul 24, 2019 / 6:02 pm

      Well at least 20 wickets fell in the day.

      And Roy has found a way to get an unwanted record: dismissed twice on the first day on debut … (it must have happened before, but that would probably be 19th century Ashes Tests).


      • dArthez Jul 24, 2019 / 6:03 pm

        That should have read: Roy has found a way to AVOID getting an unwanted record …

        Edit functionality on WordPress would be great.


        • dannycricket Jul 24, 2019 / 6:46 pm

          We writers can edit our comments. And yours. One of the perks.


          • Sean Jul 24, 2019 / 6:54 pm

            Well you need to edit your statement about Tim Murtagh being unremarkable. He is quite simply the king of swing….


          • dannycricket Jul 24, 2019 / 6:58 pm

            a) Middlesex are garbage. Their fans and their players. Garbage. And evil.
            b) He’s good in Division Two. The last time he was in Division One, in 2017, he averaged 27.63. He was *Middlesex’s* sixth best bowler in the Championship that season. Quite honestly, I was being kind when I described him as good. I think I might change it to “below average”.


          • Sean Jul 24, 2019 / 7:00 pm

            Your jealously and spite does you know favours Danny ‘dial D’ for douchebag…


          • dannycricket Jul 24, 2019 / 7:05 pm

            You’re right. I’m jealous of a club who are *checks table* sixth in Division Two. The 14th highest ranked first-class team out of 18 in England and Wales. Literally a below average team.


          • Sean Jul 24, 2019 / 7:09 pm

            Are you Michael Vaughan in disguise? Sure sound a lot like him…


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