Debutant Josh Tongue claimed five wickets to help England beat Ireland inside three days at Lord’s, but only after a record 163-run partnership between tailenders Mark Adair and Andy McBrine.
Predictions before the third day started ranged from whether England would have victory wrapped up in this one-off Test by lunch or by the time the FA Cup final got under way at 3pm.
Ireland needed 255 runs to force Ben Stokes’ side to bat again and were without injured opener James McCollum, but Harry Tector (51) and Lorcan Tucker (44) ensured 118 runs were scored in the morning session for the loss of only three wickets.
A special, special moment 😍
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) June 3, 2023
Adair and McBrine then upped the ante after lunch, launching astonishing attacks on Stuart Broad and Jack Leach before Matthew Potts bounced out number nine Adair for a 76-ball 88 that included 12 fours and two sixes.
Tongue continued his fine debut by picking up his fifth scalp, that of Fionn Hand, before McBrine helped Ireland make it to tea in the lead, only to be stranded on 86 not out when last man Graham Hume was bowled by Broad to leave the tourists on 362 for nine.
It gave England a victory target of 11 and Zak Crawley needed only four balls to secure a 10-wicket success to make it 11 wins in 13 Tests in the ‘Bazball’ era under Stokes and Brendon McCullum, but the sternest examination of their aggressive brand of cricket will start on June 16 when the Ashes get under way.
Huge scores in quick time from Ben Duckett (182) and Ollie Pope (205) in England’s 524 for four declared raised the possibility a result may occur inside two days, but Ireland made it to the close on Friday evening on 97 for three.
With McCollum retired hurt, the onus was on Tector and wicketkeeper Tucker, who after an observant first three overs started to play his shots.
A skip down the wicket saw him crunch Potts away to the boundary for four and two more followed to bring up the half-century partnership with Tector.
It was Ireland’s first half-century stand of the Test but an England breakthrough followed when Stokes, after watching Potts go agonisingly close to a superb caught and bowled against Tucker, introduced Leach, who struck with his second ball.
Tucker missed his sweep shot and gloved onto his own stumps to walk off for a well-made 44 off 64 balls.
Ireland’s number four Tector was still there and after it took him 12 balls to add to his overnight 33, he got his first boundary of the morning by hitting Leach down the ground and further applause followed when he reached 50 with a scampered two.
Tector’s celebrations quickly ended when the very next ball he cut straight to Harry Brook at backward point to give Tongue a fortuitous fourth scalp to depart for 51.
Curtis Campher picked out Stokes at short fine leg next but more significant was the grimace on the face of England’s captain, who took the catch at chest height but hobbled to join the celebrations with all eyes on his troublesome left knee ahead of five Ashes Tests during the next two months.
There would be no early finish before lunch with Adair taking a shine to Joe Root, smashing two maximums to bring up Ireland’s 200. He then crunched three consecutive fours off Broad to register his fifty from 47 balls, reaching the milestone with a ramp shot over Jonny Bairstow.
Andy McBrine finishes on 86* – a new career-best 👏
— Cricket Ireland (@cricketireland) June 3, 2023
McBrine brought up the hundred partnership off only 106 balls and recorded his half-century with a reverse sweep.
With Adair closing in on a maiden Test century, talk turned to whether he could beat Stokes’ 85-ball ton at Lord’s but Potts clinched the much-needed breakthrough.
Adair was bounced out after scoring 88 in a record 163-run partnership for Ireland in Test cricket.
Hand walked out with Ireland still needing 27 to avoid an innings defeat but he edged Tongue to Crawley at second slip to give the Worcestershire seamer his maiden five-wicket Test haul to put himself on the honours board at Lord’s.
Last man Hume remained unflustered and when he hit Root for back-to-back boundaries during the 83rd over, it meant England would bat again after tea.
McBrine was also denied a first Test hundred when Broad bowled Hume eight balls into the evening session, which ended during the first over of England’s chase after Crawley smashed three boundaries to clinch an emphatic win.