Josh Tongue’s five wickets help England secure Test win over spirited Ireland

<span>Photograph: Gareth Copley/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

The stands were busy but a sparsely populated pavilion betrayed a belief among MCC members that England would wrap up a quick kill. As it was, the hosts were made to toil for their latest victory, secured well into the second half of the FA Cup final and underlining why a nation holds its breath over the fitness of Ben Stokes.

Mark Adair and Andy McBrine were the source of this English frustration on a sun-drenched third day, coming together before the lunch break and sharing a seventh-wicket stand of 163 from 165 balls that restored some Irish pride. An overall record for their country, the alliance was packed full of impish fun and had both men dreaming of a place on the honours boards.

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Neither made it, however, Adair removed for a 76-ball 88 and McBrine left high and dry on 86 not out, the signwriters instead switching their attention to Josh Tongue and sparkling figures of five for 66 on debut. Ireland were bowled out for 362, setting England 11 runs to win, and duly beaten by 10 wickets. For Stokes and Brendon McCullum, now tasked with the small matter of regaining the Ashes, this was an 11th win from 13 Tests as a leadership pairing.

Stokes became the first captain to neither bat or bowl in a Test victory and it is the latter that remains the concern; without his overs, the request for fast, flat pitches this summer becomes a touch more questionable. The all-rounder claims his troublesome left knee – understood to be chronic tendonitis – is improving and before play he bowled for the first time in a fortnight. That said, the grimace and instinctive grasp at the joint upon pouching a catch in the morning session told a different story.

The dismissal, Curtis Campher falling to a sweep off Joe Root’s tweakers for 19, left Ireland 162 for six, 191 runs away from making England bat again. They were effectively seven down, too, opener James McCollum sporting a moon boot and on crutches after the nasty ankle twist suffered on Friday evening.

Related: McBrine and Adair dig deep to restore Irish pride and frustrate England | Emma John

What followed defied the expectations of the pavilion no-shows and underlined why England need their talisman fit for both disciplines, Adair taking down Root with some lusty blows over midwicket and bringing up a 47-ball half-century when he cleverly guided Stuart Broad over the slips for four.

McBrine was not shy either, Jack Leach suiting the left-handed No 8 as he swept with increasing authority. Leach had earlier removed Lorcan Tucker, bowled on the sweep, but finished with one for 90 from his 20 overs. If Stokes is unable to bowl in the Ashes, England will need far more from a frontline spinner who is backed by his captain but was so ruthlessly targeted by Australia last time around.

An attempted repeat of the uppercut by Adair finally separated the pair, a short ball from the hardworking Matthew Potts feathered behind to Jonny Bairstow. Relief for England was soon replaced by the beaming smile of Tongue, the 25-year-old having made Harry Tector (51) his fourth victim in the morning, caught third slip, and completing a famous five when tailender Fionn Hand edged to second.

McBrine was on 79 as last man Graham Hume walked out to join him. The No 11 fought his corner, helping secure a Rizla-thin lead and take the day into a third session. But the under-used Broad detonated his stumps two balls after the restart and with McCollum absent, it was over to Zak Crawley to belt three fours and possibly catch the end of the football in the dressing room.

Though one-way traffic for most of the Test, it was not without genuine upsides for England. Ben Duckett’s first Test century on home soil and a maiden double for Ollie Pope furthered their confidence after strong starts to the season with their counties, while Bairstow slotted back behind the stumps with minimal fuss – not straightforward on a ground like Lord’s, where the ball wobbles late for wicketkeepers.

But Tongue was the biggest tick, betraying few nerves in front of packed stands and demonstrating the awkward bounce and pace that enabled him to leapfrog Chris Woakes. Stokes and McCullum are developing a bit of a golden touch when it comes to newcomers, with Potts (seven), Rehan Ahmed (seven) and Will Jacks (six) similarly among the wickets on debut. An upbeat environment, summed up by the Madchester bucket hats the players have clearly been enjoying all week, is seemingly also a welcoming one.

Credit should also go to Alan Richardson and his coaching staff at Worcestershire, proving a so-called smaller county can produce Test-ready players. Tongue is out of contract at the end of the season, the bigger beasts are sniffing around, and it may be he decides to move on. But having been born in Redditch, played for the county since the age of six, and reached this level 19 years on, he now knows there is no imperative to do so to catch the eye of selectors.

Though likely to be nudged out by the returns of Jimmy Anderson and Ollie Robinson – Broad or Mark Wood appears the final decision for Edgbaston – Tongue has made an impression. There was a nice touch at the presentation too, Stokes stepping aside and asking his newest fast bowler to lift the sponsor’s trophy.

Ireland dispatched, albeit not without making England work hard for it in the end, attention now turns to that Ashes urn.