England vs Ireland: Swing bowling the real winner
It was an amazing Test match between England and Ireland in more ways than one. For much of this one-off, five-day confrontation in the oldest format of the sport, the literal greenhorns of the game, Ireland, threatened an unbelievable upset of the recently-crowned 50-over world champions, and the purveyors of the game, England, at the home of the game, Lord's. It would have been quite the statement.
However, as things transpired, England restored normal order after two days of bizarre action by skittling out the visitors for 38 and winning the contest by 143 runs. Chasing a mere 181 for the win going into a cloudy third day, the Irish, led by the obdurate William Porterfield, would have been reasonably confident of putting up a fight despite the inexorable butterflies in the stomach.
However, all their fledgeling dreams fell to place thanks to dexterous swing bowling of the highest order by England pacers Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes. While the latter picked up astonishing figures of 6/17, senior pro Broad ended up with 4/19 in eight overs.
It was top-notch swing bowling and a prevalent theme of the Test which showcased dismal Test batting where a spinner, Jack Leach, became the man of the match due to his exploits with the bat as a legion of high-flying England batters succumbed to some scintillating stuff with the red cherry.
The consistent display of dexterous seam and swing, an art that has faced setbacks in the age of white-balls and T20s, began in England's first innings itself, as the formidable hosts were given the shock of their lives and bowled out for 85.
Their wrecker-in-chief was the veteran Tim Murtagh, who won't scare you with his pace, but who consistently bowls in the right areas that finds the edge or zips back to trap hapless batsmen in front of the sticks. Murtagh picked up 5/13 in the first innings while his opening partner Mark Adair got six in the match.
Before Woakes and Broad lit up the third day, Murtagh was the top performer with the ball in a game where the batsmen were clearly second best. The seam and swing exerted by the pacers made an intriguing watch and sets up the upcoming Ashes brilliantly, where the king of swing James Anderson is expected to return to the squad and where Australia will be bringing their own battery of exciting speedsters led by Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins.
Test cricket recently lost the services of an exciting pacer Mohammad Amir and the game itself bid goodbye to another legend, Lasith Malinga. However, the art that they practice should not be lost to the fans of the game and thankfully, it seems to be gaining resurgence in recent times which is good news for the sport.Published 28 Jul 2019, 19:42 IST