Ireland’s dream of pulling off one of the biggest shocks in the history of test cricket was shattered as they collapsed to 38 all out to lose by 143 runs to England at Lord’s on Friday.
Chris Woakes and Stuart Broad ruthlessly exploited the murky conditions to take all 10 wickets in the space of 15.4 overs as Ireland posted the lowest-ever total at Lord’s.
Ireland made a dream start when Stuart Thompson polished off England’s second innings with the first ball of the day, clean bowling Olly Stone to dismiss the hosts for 303 and leave themselves two days to knock off 182 runs.
After a rain delay and with the lights required in the gloom, Ireland began the chase in encouraging fashion, reaching 11 without loss, but the wheels fell off in spectacular fashion as Woakes and Broad ripped them apart in little more than an hour.
Woakes applied the knockout blow, toppling Tim Murtagh’s leg stump to finish with the spectacular figures of six wickets for 17 while Broad took four for 19.
It was a shambolic end to what had been a fantastic effort by William Porterfield’s gallant side in only Ireland’s third test match and their first versus England.
They had bowled England out for 85 before lunch on the opening day of the four-day test on Wednesday and induced another collapse in the home ranks in sweltering heat on Thursday, putting them in sight of a maiden test victory.
In the end, however, 182 in conditions tailor-made for seam bowling, proved way beyond their skillset as England successfully defended their lowest total ever at Lord’s.
England’s first-innings total of 85 was the lowest to win a Test for 112 years. However, the home side was indebted to the class of Broad and Woakes and a superb second-innings 92 from nightwatchman Jack Leach — who batted at number 11 first time round — to disguise a fragile batting order.
That line-up will face a sterner test next week when the Ashes series against traditional rivals Australia starts next week at Edgbaston in Birmingham.
“We knew 180 odd was defendable but we didn’t see 38 all out coming our way,” Broad said.
Ireland avoided the ignominy of breaking the record for the lowest test score which is still held by New Zealand who were skittled for 26 against England in 1955.
“We put ourselves in a position to win the game — that’s why we’re so gutted up there,” said a deflated Porterfield, whose dismissal signalled the start of the collapse.
“We knew it would be tough with the lights on and drizzle in the air. But we had to dig deep and get through that. Fair play to the two lads to how they bowled — they made it difficult.”
When James McCollum stroked Broad through the covers for a boundary in the third over Irish hopes were soaring.
England wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow, who suffered two ducks with the bat, produced a magical one-handed catch to dismiss Porterfield and give Woakes his first victim in the next over.
Andrew Balbirnie, impressive in Ireland’s first innings, struck one boundary before edging Broad to Joe Root at first slip before Paul Stirling was bowled by Woakes.
Ireland were sinking fast and lost three wickets on 24. McCollum (11) edged a Woakes outswinger to Root before Gary Wilson was trapped lbw two balls later. Broad then pinned Kevin O’Brien in his crease for a plumb lbw.
A manic three-ball spell then saw Mark Adair struck on the helmet by Broad, pull him for six, then lose his off stump.
Ireland knew the game was up and Woakes completed his five-wicket haul as Thompson edged to Root who then gratefully accepted another catch from Andrew McBrine off Broad.
Woakes wrapped up the match when he knocked over Murtagh’s leg stump to hand England an improbable victory.