Day Two: Ireland fight back to leave Lord’s Test finely poised heading into third day
July 25th 2019 by Ben Gardner, Wisden | International
Ireland battled back superbly in the second half of day two to put themselves in position to seal what would be a magnificent victory. England had looked to be stretching out of reach of the tourists before Mark Adair’s three wickets led a spirited Irish fightback. England’s tail wagged to take them past 300, but when thunderstorms ended the day’s play, the game was still in the balance.
England began the day on 0-0, nightwatchman opener Jack Leach having played out a maiden to close out the previous evening. Though he was supposedly a makeshift, he outlasted regular opener Rory Burns, who nicked off to Boyd Rankin for six, and lost little in comparison with Jason Roy as the pair added 145 for the second wicket, England’s highest second-wicket stand in over three years.
By lunch, both had fifties. They were contrasting efforts, Roy’s coming off an ODI-esque 47 balls, and Leach’s off a more sedate 82 balls, but equally valuable, and on the hottest July day ever recorded in the UK, with temperatures nearing 40C, the worry was that Ireland would wilt.
Instead, they rallied, and after the break the chances started to come. Roy survived two LBW shouts, the first thanks to an inside edge and the second thanks to too-prodigious movement, while Leach was dropped by wicketkeeper Gary Wilson and just cleared Rankin at mid-off as the partnership neared 50.
Roy’s luck eventually ran out when he aimed a lavish drive at Stuart Thompson and was beaten by the inswing, his stumps splayed, but when Leach was spilled once more at second slip when on 92, it seemed the gods might be on his side. Instead, three balls later Mark Adair was offered another chance and this time clung on, and the door was truly open.
Neither Joe Root or Denly could find the boundary or rotate the strike, and the pressure told, with a mix-up seeing Denly run out by a distance. Jonny Bairstow was pinned LBW by Adair in the following over to complete a pair before Root fell to a spectacular catch from Wilson, diving in front of first slip, the second time Adair had claimed England’s captain in the game. Adair soon added a third when Woakes edged to slip.
With Rankin having claimed the wicket of Moeen Ali prior to Root’s fall, wafting at a short ball and edging behind, all of a sudden England were 248-8, leading by just 126.
Sam Curran had driven his first ball for four to signal a change of intent, and though he fell attempting to hit his third six, caught in the deep by James McCollum off Thompson, his 29-ball 37 helped reclaim the momentum somewhat. Another maximum, from Stuart Broad, took England past 300 before rain ended the day prematurely with the hosts leading by 181, one wicket left to take, and the result still up for grabs.
Scores in brief
England Men v Ireland Men, Test Match, Lord’s Cricket Ground, 24-27 July 2019
England 85 (23.4 overs; J Denly 23; T Murtagh 5-13)
Ireland 207 (58.2 overs; A Balbirnie 55; S Curran 3-28)
England 303-9 (77.4 overs; J Leach 92; M Adair 3-66)
Stumps – Day Two