20th over: Ireland 64-3 (McCollum 24, Stirling 30) Top footwork from Stirling, down the track to leach and smothering any spin that’s out there, hammered past mid-off for his fifth four to take him into the 30s at a strike rate of better than 100. Considering he was given out lbw first ball (overturned on review) this is a fine counterattack. I reckon they’ve overdone the Leach experiment here given the surface showed enough life with the seamers early on; Plan A was working.
19th over: Ireland 60-3 (McCollum 24, Stirling 26) Broady’s back and you’re gonna be in trouble (Hey-la-day-la your Broady’s back). In truth, the change at the Pav End works well for the Irish pair with Stirling accessing the region behind point for the second time in a couple of overs for three before McCollum pulls awkwardly over midwicket for his third boundary. He simply has to make it through to lunch.
18th over: Ireland 53-3 (McCollum 20, Stirling 23) Leach to Stirling. Nothing at all wrong with what he’s doing but there’s just not a lot going on. A single to midwicket all that’s on offer – Ireland continue their rebuild; this pair have added 34.
Meanwhile, YJB is loving his morning with the gloves back, constant chat.
17th over: Ireland 52-3 (McCollum 20, Stirling 22) The Licker’s first bad ball, giving Stirling a good look at a cut shot and he doesn’t miss. And it is back to back boundaries to start the over, on the balls of his feet timing the man on debut behind point this time around – lovely batting, then taking one to square leg. If these two can get Ireland through to lunch, whisper it… might be (vaguely) shared honours.
16th over: Ireland 43-3 (McCollum 20, Stirling 13) Leach is bowling a straighter line to Stirling, who he wants attacking him. But the veteran (that word again, sorry Romeo) keeps his head and knocks him out to deep square. Two singles off the over. It feels like we’re watching a sleepy session on the third afternoon with Leach in operation landing it on the spot, but it’s still before lunch on day one. BazBall, innit.
“It’s not a new thought, but mornings like this hammer it home,” writes Matt Dony. “How unfortunate for Broad to have spent his international career playing alongside Anderson. Although not exactly ‘in his shadow’, you do wonder just how feted he would have been had Jimmy not been quite so Jimmy. Also, I hope Ireland can steady the ship and avoid the collapse now. It’s a ridiculously difficult task to adjust to this level of cricket, but the more established teams we have, the better the game becomes. Confidence-shattering collapses at this stage don’t help anyone.”
Works the other way too: without Anderson, does Broad enjoy such a magnificent career in tandem the way that he has? But your point stands. I’m not sure if the numbers back this up but I feel like his analysis without Jimmy is very handy.
15th over: Ireland 41-3 (McCollum 19, Stirling 12) Before the review, a run off Tongue from his 13th ball but not far away at all, finding Stirling’s inside edge and spitting away behind square – had the bat missed, they would’ve been appealing. McCollum takes on a shorter delivery, inside the line before pulling away for a couple. Then after the review the shot of the morning so far from the opener, who square drives from the top of the bounce out through cover point for four. A lot to like about the way he’s gone about the way the 27-year-old has gone about it this morning.
I wasn’t going to include any emails about the trouble England had getting to the ground earlier but this is very good from Paul Haynes. “Just Stop Oil? Does this mean they are Boycott supporters? Their catchphrase should be: ‘the global mean temperature seems OK at the moment but add another 2 degrees onto that and it doesn’t seem so clever.’” (This is a joke – if you don’t get it, that’s okay, don’t yell)
England review! Tongue back of a length, jagging back, jumping up and hitting McCollum. Feels like back pad but Stokes goes upstairs to check for an edge. Yep – fantastic delivery and close to the bat but under edge confirms back pocket.
14th over: Ireland 33-3 (McCollum 12, Stirling 11) Leach again after cordial and just a single to cover from Stirling, one-day style. Sky cut to a graphic of Leach’s time under Stokes and McCullum – 41 wickets at 39 in 13 Tests. Not spectacular but it works.
“Dear Adam.” Dearest Robert McLiam Wilson, this time via email. “Be not downcast, my colonial brother. That not-out review is the turning point. We’ll declare before tomorrow on 650 for 9 and Broad will tearfully announce his retirement over the weekend. Then something uncomfortable will happen to Glenn Hoddle (the most English man in history) and 800 years of oppression will finally be avenged. It was 800, wasn’t it? 900? The full thousand…” My only thought to add is that I’d love to watch a day of Irish Test cricket in your company, suspect it’d be an experience.
13th over: Ireland 32-3 (McCollum 12, Stirling 10) A much quicker over from Tongue here, hitting 88mph twice; above 85mph throughout. McCollum is leaving him competently until the final ball before drinks that zips past the outside edge at real pace. England will be thrilled with his first two overs, maidens both. In that opening hour Ireland made 15 runs in the first three overs then lost 3/17 in the next ten.
Romeo is back with us: “If Paul Stirling is “The Irish veteran”, I must be a fossil. He’s 32 years old.” True, but he made his debut in 2008. I count veteran status on that basis rather than age alone. And he’s nearly 33 (32 until then!). Standing by it.
12th over: Ireland 32-3 (McCollum 12, Stirling 10) Jack Leach inside the first hour! How life has changed for the England tweaker, who couldn’t get in the team (nor any spinner) two summers ago against India. Stokes loves him. Being used here to give Stirling a short boundary to aim at, albeit against the spin. Oh, and it nearly works first ball! Sweeping right away, he only just clears the man at backward square in front of the Warner Stand. It goes for four but they don’t mind. McCollum gets the strike later in the over and is looking to hit the ball hard to the sweepers, finding the man at deep cover to retain the strike. He’s 12 from 44 and doing a job.
“Nick should have a look at Sixes Cricket for his stag,” suggests Dave McGlashan. “It’s great fun, they have a few venues in London.” Nice shout. Keep it crickety.
11th over: Ireland 26-3 (McCollum 11, Stirling 5) Here comes The Licker! And Josh Tongue’s first all in Test cricket is a good’un running away from the Pav, bringing one back to McCollum who plays inside of it. He’s not blowing up the speed gun in the low 80s but the bounce into the splice of the bat is noteworthy right away. And a little play and miss outside the off-stump to finish the over – that’ll help with any nerves, a maiden in his column and a good one too. His first over at Lord’s in professional cricket, I’m told on telly! There’s a bit about him.
“Morning Adam, and good to see you back on the OBO.” Romeo! Nice to be here – I won’t be about for many of these during the summer with radio commitments throughout the six Australian Tests but I do love it in these parts. “I just got a bit angry at Nasser Hussain, not for the first time. He said Stirling was “saved by the review”. He was actually saved by the fact the ball was missing the stumps.”
Not that I’ll tell him, but I was grumpier when he used the GOAT term in an earnest way a few overs back. But that’s because I dislike the term – love Nas, of course.
10th over: Ireland 26-3 (McCollum 11, Stirling 5) “It’s starting to swing now, Pottsy boy! Ball is swinging! Swing now!” YJB effusive in his commentary from the cordon as the Durham spearhead continues his clash with McCollum, who retains the strike with a tuck to fine leg to finish after leaving the rest. Good opening batting.
9th over: Ireland 25-3 (McCollum 10, Stirling 5) Stirling off the mark, helping Broad fine for four – first time he’s missed for a while. A couple of singles from the leg stump too – that might help get Broad out of the attack for the time being. A shot of the great Jim Carter between overs on the telly. He’s been the long-standing chairman of the mighty Hampstead CC, one mile from here. You might think, for a big celeb, that means rocking up to give the occasional rev up or speech but Jim was just as comfortable cleaning out the showers on a Sunday or scoring for the 5th XI.
“Hello gang.” Nick Baxter, welcome. “It’s my stag stag stag at the weekend, and I’ve got 13 tickets for Saturday. Each early wicket currently feels like a dagger to my spleen. Does anyone have any recommendations for things to do in London on Saturday?”
Oh no!! This is not good. My stag is the Saturday of the Nottingham Women’s Test but we’re doing it in London rather than at the cricket as it would be just too much of a Busman’s. London stag planners, please help Nick out. At least you’ll have a nice kitty to play around with given the refund from the tickets (if it goes that way).
8th over: Ireland 19-3 (McCollum 9, Stirling 0) Potts keeps the pressure on, going his job from the Nursery End – McCollum leaves five of these six, another maiden.
“Ireland better start playing Bazball go for it,” says Paul Sokhy, “Catastrophic start nothing to lose.” Balbirnie said they would need to play smart under pressure with the ball, the same applies now that they’re in this dreadful spot. One bloke who can counterattack is Stirling, especially on a ground he loved so much for Middlesex.
Meanwhile, Bob Wilson is tweeting me instead of emailing me – I’ll take it. Hi mate.
7th over: Ireland 19-3 (McCollum 9, Stirling 0) Sky tells us that Hawkeye told them that the Stirling ball was missing the leg stump by just one centimetre. Wow. Another edge to finish but doesn’t carry to fourth slip. Double wicket maiden. Have that.
NOT OUT! Missing leg! Despite pitching well outside the off-stump – that’s done loads, missing he bat by a long way on the way to the pad. Relief for the visitors.
STIRLING LBW FIRST BALL! Broad is on a hat-trick… so long as the review goes his way. The Irish veteran has sent it upstairs. Stand by.
Make that 579! Broad has two in three balls, Tector caught by Potts in the trap at leg gully. They hadn’t used that postion at any stage so far, so they’ve planned for this and it pays off. The young gun can’t believe he’s fallen for it, straight to Potts. Broad can’t either, celebrating with his hands near his mouth reminiscent of that day at Notts in 2015. He has the first three and Ireland are officially in big trouble.
Excellent low catch from Crawley, who had to come forward at second slip to get underneath it to take cleanly – tougher than it looks. A duck for the Ireland captain; he’ll be gutted. Broad, meanwhile, has himself a second wicket in his first spell of the summer – that’s 578 scalps for him in Test cricket, for those keeping count.
6th over: Ireland 19-1 (McCollum 9, Balbirnie 0) Ooooft, Matty Potts has going it going on here. To McCollum, shouldering arms, it is but an inch away from taking out his off-stump after coming back a mile up the slope. That it comes after he beat him on the outside edge makes it all the more impressive from the Durham quick. But impressive too is McCollum keeping his cool, driving the next delivery away through cover for four. Nice little contest between these two so far.
Another fan of Ireland’s Victor Trumpers in Max Bonnell. “I don’t expect them to win the game but Ireland has the best sweater in international cricket: bright, bold, simple, strong. I want one.” Good merchandising opportunity, I reckon.
5th over: Ireland 15-1 (McCollum 5, Balbirnie 0) Four slips standing behind the visiting captain Andy Balbirnie, in at No3. He’s the only man to play all six Tests for the Ireland so far, with a highest score of 95 against Sri Lanka in April. He’s on another one of those handy lists too: a pair on Test debut. But a fine player in fine form, especially in one-day cricket. Hope he goes well here. Defends and watches the four balls remaining in this successful Broad over, a wicket maiden in his column.
“Morning.” Hello, tom V d Gucht – great to see some names of regular names in my inbox early on. “I attempted to complete one of those engaging and mildly infuriating quizzes on Wisden the other day about England’s top test run scorer every year since 1980. I was astonished at how reliant we’ve been on Root over the past decade with him being the top dog 80% of the time. A few other surprises popped up: how rarely Cook had been the top run scorer; how much Trescothick had out performed Vaughan in the 00s despite Vaughan being the one who seemed to get all the plaudits; Bell nearly gaining the honour as many times as KP; Stokes carrying the burden during the Covid years.” I might have a dart at that during lunch.
Playing across his front pad, looking to flick, hit bang in front – middle stump. Up goes the finger of Paul Wilson. No review needed there. England get one early.
4th over: Ireland 15-0 (McCollum 5, Moor 10) Top re-start from Potts, beating McCollum with a gem down the slope – had to play, just enough movement. Oooh, and he does it again; generous nip this time. Maiden complete with a third ball that goes past the blade, this time from back of a length. Warm applause. That’s better.
News from the England camp that Dan Lawrence has been released from the Test squad to play a couple of Blast matches for Essex over the weekend. Fair enough.
“Glad they got to wear those jumpers,” writes Brendan in Sydney. “It made me check the weather in London. It is currently the same temperature in London as it is in Sydney. It’s 8pm here, first day of winter. 11am, first day of summer there. Both 13 degrees. Go Ireland.”
Per Will Mac, it was meant to be beautiful today. Of course, was never happening.
3rd over: Ireland 15-0 (McCollum 5, Moor 10) Tidy from Moor, driving Broad right out the middle of his bat past mid-off for four – just what you want as an opener to get into rhythm; his second boundary. Earlier in the over, soft hands from McCollum through the cordon for three. 15 from three overs?! Is this BalboBall! (Sorry)
“Hello, Adam, and the OBO’ers.” Gidday, Mark Slater. “Summer starts, for me and many others, at 11am on the first day of the first Test Match of the English (UK) season. Hopefuly the Hundred will be kicked into the long grass in the near future, and the British Summer will be bookended by the first and last Test Matches. As it should be. Looking forward to this match, and of course the ones against some team from the Southern Hemisphere.”
Sorry to report that you can be fairly certain that The Hundred isn’t going anywhere, per Geoff and my conversation yesterday with the ECB’s new boss, Richard Gould.
2nd over: Ireland 8-0 (McCollum 2, Moor 6) Potts gets the new ball from the Nursery End, which I’m a tad surprised by on the basis that he did such a fine job as England’s first change last summer, but I suppose he has seniority now. Drifts slightly straight to Moor who helps him down the slope to the shorter boundary for four past the man at midwicket – nicely played. This is the same pitch they played on for the New Zealand Test this time last year, when BazBall started (kinda) with Stokes punting Ajaz Patel into the Grand Stand, to that shorter side, a number of times. A couple more through cover next up – the right-hander has started well, now playing Test cricket for his second nation. Quite a handy list of players, that.
Athers mentioned on commentary that someone put on a bet on when Josh Tongue was a kid that he would play Tests – here are the details of that, via Reuters.
One lucky punter who believed 14 years ago that Josh Tongue would one day play for England and placed a cheeky bet will win 50,000 pounds ($63,000) when the fast bowler makes his international debut against Ireland on Thursday.
Tim Piper had watched Tongue play when he was just an 11-year-old and placed a 100-pound bet at odds of 500-1 that he would play a test match for England in the future.
“I’ve kept the bet slip in a cupboard all these years,” Piper told BBC Sport. “I just thought to myself, ‘it must be worth 100 pounds’. If he doesn’t make it, he’d make us proud anyway. This is just a bonus for him to get in the test team.
Tongue, the son of Piper’s club team mate Phil, was a spinner at the time and the 56-year-old had seen enough to realise he was destined for great things. “There was this little kid who bowled leg-spin, googlies and top-spinners. It was like Shane Warne,” Piper added.
1st over: Ireland 1-0 (McCollum 1, Moor 0) Broad spot on, beating Moor with a beauty that straightens up the hill with his fourth ball – there was a noise and an appeal but they’re turned down. Back thigh says Simon Doull on comms and he’s spot on. That comes after McCollum gets the first run of the summer with a push to mid-on.
“The first test of the English summer, how I love it.” Too right, Phil Withall. “However being based in Australia, you may remember it, a large island in the arse end of nowhere, I will be struggling to follow fully. The need to get up for work as stumps are pulled at the end of play, mean I should probably be embracing the concept of BazBall fully. Getting the test finished early means less cricket missed. With regard to Bairstow, I have fond memories of his late father berating all and sundry during a pre-seaon game for Yorkshire at Parkgate cricket club in Sheffield… it was a more tolerant time.”
Speaking of YJB, our yarn on the England team’s delay on the way in this morning – it was his photo on Instagram that alerted the world to what was going on.
The players are out in the middle. Stuart Broad to do his thing from the pavilion end with Peter Moor opening alongside James McCollum, the latter to take strike. PLAY!
Eoin Morgan rings the five-minute bell. Huge smile on his face, nice moment. Into the national anthems, with the Irish team decked out in their magnificent jumpers. When speaking with Andy Balbirnie recently on The Final Word, he lamented that they haven’t had a chance to wear them since 2018 as every Test they’ve played since has been in very hot conditions, so they’ve not missed out here. It’s the little things.
“Hi Adam.” Hi Andy F. “So Josh Tongue is the first PG-rated body-part-named debutant for England for a while. Does this list include Sir Iron Bottom?”
So bad that I’m including it. Well done.
And here’s Guy Hornsby!
“Well here we are. We fear for it, we worry about it, and then here’s 8 Tests in two months, Adam. Glorious gluttony. I hate to think it could be the last northern hemisphere hurrah before a seismic shift, and absolutely have no joy in this discussion at the start of an English Test summer, but really the cat is out of the bag already. We are asking the richest to do things for the good of the game, but capitalism doesn’t do nostalgia or equality. But here’s to the next 8 weeks, and Ireland starting by putting in a strong batting performance. They are far more than the team that we here four years ago.”
Very well said. We should really, really, really make the most of these eight weeks.
And Chris Drew has supplied me with the overseas TMS link! Thank you.
Patrick Brennan is on the same train as John Starbuck. “Excited by the selection of Tongue, I hear he bowls at quite a lick.” Licker. We’re all sorted. I reckon he’ll get the new ball shortly too – Potts was an excellent first change battering ram last year.
“Hi Adam.” Morning, Will Juba. “Glad to read your enthusiasm for the test summer ahead, including this one…like you, I can’t wait! Can we take a minute to acknowledge one of the unluckiest cricketers in recent memory; Ben Foakes. What he has to do to secure a regular place in the England test side (aside from being ‘the best keeper in the world’ – Ben Stokes – averaging pretty much bang on 40 from no.7 since Bazball started, being a counter point to the smash, crash, bang, wallop further up the order, playing several match winning innings and also just happening to be devastatingly good looking), I can only imagine I understand the logic in having all of Brook, Bairstow and Stokes (all undroppable) in the team, and even to a degree the faith in Crawley, but to omit Foakes over Crawley and to move Bairstow‘s position and give him more work after his year last year, just seems counterintuitive. Hope I’m wrong and all 4 go on to average 50 and we win every test of the summer…Thanks and keep up the good work.”
My view on this, explained here in more detail, is that moving Bairstow from No5 and giving him the gloves back after what he did last year… not for me. But the good news for England is that these are the selection stoushes you want. Remember where they were twelve months ago? Had won one of their previous 17 Tests.
The teams as named.
England: Ben Duckett, Zak Crawley, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Ben Stokes (c), Harry Brook, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Stuart Broad, Matthew Potts, Josh Tongue, Jack Leach
Ireland: James McCollum, Peter Moor, Andy Balbirnie (c), Harry Tector, Paul Stirling, Lorcan Tucker (wk), Curtis Campher, Andy McBrine, Mark Adair, Fionn Hand, Graham Hume.
Hand (who I’m a big fan of) gets a go in place of Young, who picked up an injury.
Andy Balbirnie speaks at the toss. “Just to have the experience in the bank, a lot of guys made their debuts in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, so we’re only going to get better.” Fionn Hand is making his debut! He knocked Stokes over the ‘G last year.
No hesitation; BazBallers don’t bat first. “We’ve got to take every day as it comes this summer and this is another part of the journey we have before the Ashes starts.”
“Adam.” John Starbuck, as is the custom, opening the batting in my inbox. “If we’re debating nicknames for the newcomer how about ‘Licker’? Don’t know off he’s a drinker or not but then he probably had a school nickname. Any OBO readers run across him before?”
Like it. I played junior cricket with a friend known as ‘Tonguey’ – nice memories. But Licker is far better. As a pal said during the week, he’s the first England body part debut that is PG rated for a long time. Boom tish.
This guy can seriously play. Lorcan Tucker became the 114th man to make a Test ton on debut earlier this year and just the sixth wicketkeeper (2nd away from home). His 71* against Australia in the T20 World Cup last year effectively eliminated them from their home tournament and his last Test hit was a brisk 80 v Sri Lanka. He’s a lovely fella, too. Simon Burnton spoke to him for The Spin column this week.
England were held up on the way in this morning. I’m not going to get into this on email comments by the way, there’s enough abuse online to fuel everyone.
20 years later… staggering. Trust we all caught Jonny Liew’s beautiful column about Jimmy during the week? Hopefully he unblocks him on twitter now.
To start my first stint on the OBO for a little while, a gripe. I’m hacked off at how much negativity there is around this Test Match, specifically the Irish tourists being tut-tutted at for acknowledging the truth: this doesn’t have as much riding on it as ODI World Cup qualification.
That scrap begins soon in Zimbabwe – “a bloodbath” of a competition per Warren Deutrom, the long-standing giant of a CEO of Cricket Ireland. For the last three years, they’ve been duking it out in the World Cup Super League, and from this point, their route to the ten-team tournament starting in October (for shame that it is still only ten for this edition), is if they make the final in Harare. Messy and inadequate as it is, this all sits within a framework, where most of their cricket has been played.
By contrast, at Test level, Andy Balbirnie’s side have barely enjoyed a lick of the ice cream since the last time they took to the field at Lord’s on a stinking hot midsummer day in 2019 with nearly a four-year gap between Tests.
Yes, they arrive today having played three times in the last two months in Asia against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, so they’re better prepared than what otherwise might’ve been the case, but the decision to deny them (and other full-member nations Zimbabwe and Afghanistan) access to the World Test Championship means barely any time in whites and cable-knit sweaters.
So yes, their team today won’t include Josh Little – their best quick, who only three days ago finished an exhausting IPL campaign. And sure, they’ve been up front in the pre-game about where this match sits relative to their World Cup hopes. But that doesn’t invalidate the four days we have ahead of us.
As the captain Balbirnie said repeatedly at his press conference yesterday, this is a “pinnacle” event for his side and a chance to make a statement about what might be provided to them as a Test nation into the future. “When you walk through the Grace Gates, it hits you pretty quickly how big an occasion this is,” as he later added to emphasise that they can walk and chew gum at the same time.
Also, let’s not forget, the last two times these sides have met in white-ball cricket – at Southampton in 2020 and at the MCG in last year’s T20 World Cup – Ireland saluted.
Four years ago, when these teams met in their inaugural Test Match, an astonishing first session played out. Just nine days after England won the World Cup on the same ground, they were inserted and rolled for 85 with Tim Murtagh putting on a clinic from the Nursery End. But the tables were turned on morning three with Ireland rolled for 38 – the lowest ever Test score at the ground.
Looking out the window of the press box, there is a similar tinge of green this morning as there was that day – don’t be surprised for a win-the-toss-and-bowl outcome in half an hour from now. And BazBallers do like batting fourth.
When those teamsheets are exchanged, we’ve already been informed that England’s XI will include one man on debut, Josh Tongue from Worcestershire. At 25 with a bit of pace, a fine performance for the Lions in an Unofficial Test over the winter and Steve Smith in his pocket from a county game last month, he’s being picked at the right time. I’m not sure Chris Woakes would agree with that assessment though, having to sit out to let Tonguey (get better with nicknames) take his first cap.
For Ireland, journeyman Craig Young will make his Test bow. Expect him the swing the ball around, as he did when removing Jason Roy and James Vince in that one-day win over England when they last met in that format. But it’s the young guns I’ll be watching more closely: Harry Tector, Lorcan Tucker and Curtis Campher. All three have been in sparkling form in limited overs cricket and know what it feels like to be in a side defeating England. A lot more on them as we go.
Right, this turned into a long preamble, didn’t it? Chalk that up to the enthusiasm of the first day of the international summer, the first of EIGHT TEST MATCHES IN EIGHT WEEKS. Embrace it, savour it – there might not be another summer quite like it. Join me throughout in the usual ways by pinging me an email or a tweet.