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Cricket news - Ireland's chance to spring a surprise as England re-focus
"Recovering from a World Cup hangover?"
"Preparing for the Ashes?"
These are just two questions that will matter as much to Ireland as they do to England. The events of two Sundays ago have been enjoyed, savoured and then broken out to be enjoyed once again. With an Ashes on the horizon, players have been rested, James Anderson the latest to be given the Test off.
What better chance, then, for Ireland to spring a surprise on their seemingly otherwise occupied hosts. The latter is hammed up a bit: England spent the weekend just gone at St George's Park to refocus World Cup minds and fine-tune those joining up with an England squad for the first time in what seems like an age. But, just quietly, the visitors arrive for their third-ever Test match hoping minds other than theirs are focussed on matters beyond the next four days ahead.
There is plenty of local knowledge within Ireland's camp, too. Tim Murtagh and Paul Stirling ply their domestic trade at Lord's for Middlesex while Gary Wilson, Boyd Rankin and William Porterfield have all played enough county cricket here for them to know what to expect.
Their first two matches since gaining Test status may have resulted in defeats, to Pakistan at Malahide last summer and against Afghanistan in India earlier this year, but on both occasions Ireland showed enough skill and perseverance to ensure England will not be taking them lightly. The ability of the Irish batting order to compile the sort of scores needed in Test cricket remains the major question mark, however.
Arguably, this game is the biggest occasion in Irish cricket for a number of years, more important perhaps than their Test bow against Pakistan. A Test match, against England, at Lord's is the culmination of a long journey for Ireland and the motivation of attempting to register a first ever Test match win at a ground with such history and importance will surely drive them on.
Despite the potential hangover from the World Cup, there are plenty in England's team with red-ball points to prove as well. Two debutants, three players making their home debuts and others, such as Sam Curran and Chris Woakes, pushing for Ashes selection mean there is plenty to play for across the next four days. It will be particularly interesting to see how a top order of Jason Roy, Rory Burns and Joe Denly, with just 11 caps between them, fares against a canny attack.
Ireland have only ever beaten England once in international cricket during that famous World Cup victory in Bangalore in 2011. Since then, the teams have met six times with England winning all five completed matches, including an ODI in Malahide at the start of this summer. The only meeting between the two sides at Lord's was two years ago when England thumped Ireland in an ODI warm-up for the Champions Trophy.
When: June 24, 2019, 10AM GMT / 11 AM LOCAL
Where: Lord's, London
What to expect: Being a four-day Test, it's worth refreshing on the playing conditions: 98 overs are to be bowled in the day, with the two-hour-15 minute sessions from the start time, with the breaks for lunch (40 minutes) and tea (20) the same length. The pitch looks green which does not necessarily mean it'll do all sorts here, but it will do something. The weather is going to be pretty ridiculous: above 30-degrees-centigrade for all four days and a peak of 37 on day two of the match.
England have named their side with Warwickshire's Olly Stone and Jason Roy set for Test debuts. Although the bowling attack is missing Anderson and the rested Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer, it has plenty of variation. Stone - quick and aggressive - will bring pace while Curran's left-arm angle will pose different questions to the right-armers Woakes and Stuart Broad. There are two spinners, too.
Confirmed XI: Rory Burns, Jason Roy, Joe Denly, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Moeen Ali, Sam Curran, Chris Woakes, Stuart Broad, Olly Stone, Jack Leach
Ireland have delayed naming their team until the morning of the match but could go in with four fast-bowlers, the off-spin of Andy McBrine and the medium pace of Kevin O'Brien. Mark Adair and Craig Young are set for Test debuts while spinner Simi Singh could join them if Ireland decide to play two spinners. Boyd Rankin is set to become the first player to play both for and against England in Test cricket since the Nawab of Pataudi played in 1946.
Probable XI: William Porterfield, Paul Stirling, Andy Balbirnie, James McCollum, Kevin O'Brien, Gary Wilson, Mark Adair, Andy McBrine, Craig Young, Tim Murtagh, Boyd Rankin
What they said
"For every international team, the schedule is pretty hectic for everyone. It's a great chance for the group. One of the challenges is making sure we manage everyone well and we are smart with selections and making sure that guys who are picked are fit and firing and ready to go." - Joe Root on maintaining focus and energy.
"It's right up there - if not the pinnacle for everything that's been achieved for the last while for Irish cricket. We have got quite a few World Cups under our belt, little things like that. They have been pretty big occasions, but getting to Test cricket and then having the opportunity to play here at the home of cricket is a pretty special thing" - Irish captain William Porterfield.
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