By Martyn Herman
LONDON (Reuters) – England’s Stuart Broad took three early wickets against Ireland on the first morning of what promises to be a seismic summer of test cricket, but opener James McCollum led some spirited Irish resistance at Lord’s on Thursday.
When veteran Broad took three wickets in eight balls to leave Ireland on 19-3 in the seventh over the visitors were in danger of being swept away in ideal bowling conditions.
But they managed to reach lunch on 78-4 with McCollum still there having made a gritty 29 off 93 balls.
The one-off test is very much a warm-up for England’s looming Ashes series, but there was a buzz of anticipation around the ground as captain Ben Stokes won the toss and invited Ireland to bat on a greenish wicket under overcast skies.
Ireland, still looking for their first win as test-playing nation having lost the previous six, reached 15 without loss as McCollum and Peter Moor dug in. But suddenly it all went wrong as veteran Broad wrought havoc in his 162nd test match.
First he trapped Moor (10) lbw with a straight delivery and in the first ball of his next over Ireland captain Andy Balbirnie dangled his bat outside off stump and edged through to second slip Zak Crawley who took a fine low catch.
Two balls later Harry Tector flicked a rising ball off his body straight into the hands of Matthew Potts at leg slip.
Broad’s next delivery rapped Paul Stirling’s pads and he was given out but reprieved after a review, denying the 36-year-old Broad his 580th test wicket.
Ireland were bowled out for 38 in their previous innings at Lord’s four years ago when they were chasing a modest target of 182 for what would have been an historic victory.
But there was to be no repeat of that shambolic collapse as Stirling launched a spirited fightback.
Scoring freely, he struck England’s debutant seamer Josh Tongue for successive boundaries in the 16th over and also went after spinner Jack Leach.
Having made a confident 30 in 35 balls he attempted to sweep Leach but the ball bounced steeply and flicked his gloves into the hands of Jonny Bairstow behind the stumps.
McCollum was joined by Lorcan Tucker who was unbeaten on eight and, with the sun breaking through, batting conditions look likely to be more favourable in the afternoon session.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by John Stonestreet)
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Source: The Print