England will attempt to shake off a humiliating World Cup hangover after sustaining a 122-run deficit on a humbling first day of Test cricket against Ireland.
Less than a fortnight after lifting the biggest prize in the one-day game in remarkable circumstances at Lord’s, England were skittled for just 85 in a single, shambolic session at headquarters.
A much-improved bowling performance saw the away side dismissed for 207 on a 20-wicket day at the home of cricket, leaving England’s red-faced top order facing the stiff challenge of turning a dire performance into a winning position.
Five of the squad that triumphed in an unforgettably dramatic final at the same ground 10 days earlier swapped their one-day kit for England whites but found the winning formula was nowhere to be found as the visitors rolled their hosts over before lunch.
Despite letting the lead stretch beyond three figures, England have not given up hopes of victory and will resume with nightwatchman Jack Leach partnering Rory Burns.
Neither featured in the famous World Cup, but five of the XI did feature in an exacting tournament which batting coach Graham Thorpe could not help but cite as a contributing factor when faced with his side’s struggles.
The contributions of the World Cup winners were wince-inducing. Jason Roy was fortunate to score five on debut, captain Joe Root managed just two and there were ducks for Jonny Bairstow, Chris Woakes and Moeen Ali.
“You’d probably say there aren’t too many sports where you win a World Cup and are playing again a week later,” was Thorpe’s assessment.
“It’s a challenging mental examination I suppose, coming back off the World Cup. It was a tough tournament, absolutely no doubt about it, and I think there is no harm admitting where, potentially, some of our players are.
“We have to accept that some players are maybe in a different headspace to others. That’s natural, totally understandable. We would have hoped it all went swimmingly well but it hasn’t.”
Tim Murtagh was the hero of the hour for Ireland, taking a superb haul of five for 13 to set the tone of the day.
The Lambeth-born 37-year-old has spent a career at the coalface but knows Lord’s better than anyone having spent the past 12 years teasing wicket-taking deliveries out of its famous slope.
— Cricket Ireland (@Irelandcricket) July 24, 2019
His figures are the best in Ireland’s short, three-match Test CV and could well stay that way for some time.
“As a kid growing up I dreamt of being on that honours board, probably not in the away dressing room – but that makes it even more special,” he said.
“It’s as special as it gets for a cricketer. A fantastic feeling walking off, holding the ball up having taken five wickets in a session. It’s as good a feeling as I’ve had in my career.
“I’m a bit long in the tooth but I should know how to bowl here!”