For all the talk of England’s new fledgling bowling attack, it was the experienced hand of Stuart Broad who added the magic touch on day one of the international summer against Ireland at Lord’s.
Broad picked up five for 51 to put his name on the roll of honor in the home of cricket for the third time and for the first time since 2013, in England’s only Test ahead of the much-anticipated Ashes.
Broad, who led England’s attack, ran through Ireland’s lead group, which was quickly reduced to 19-threes early in the day. The tourists eventually rebounded and scored 172, with England ending the day on 152 for a goal conceded.
Whenever Broad stands at the end of his target, in this case at the end of the Pavilion, on a cold, overcast morning early in the day, there’s always a feeling that something might happen. While James Anderson was undoubtedly the more consistent, Broad can create moments of magic.
The Ashes’ legendary eight-for-15 result against Australia at Trent Bridge in 2015 comes easily to mind, as does the last time he was on the roll of honor with seven-for-44 against New Zealand in 2013.
Some of that spark was evident early in the day when he scored three for 14 in just five overs and the excitement mounted towards Edgbaston where Anderson and Broad were able to face the Aussies with shiny new dukes.
Matthew Potts bowled well but there will be disappointment from Josh Tongue who, despite being the fastest bowler at 90mph, failed to win a first Test wicket.
For a team that is all about taking wickets while neglecting run-rate in the attacking fields, this will be a key point for the national team as the English summer’s highlight series is at stake.
With Ollie Robinson and Anderson and Mark Wood rested for the Ireland Test, England will need the full intensity of their bowling attack during Ashes’ packed five-Test series in just six weeks and a dismissed Broad will certainly boost confidence strengthen .
As captain, Ben Stokes continued to set new standards on the field. Only once did a spinner bowl earlier in the first inning of a Lord’s Test match than when Jack Leach got the ball before lunch.
But when it was their turn and the sun was shining in the evening, England really wanted to attack.
In a way that embodies their “Bazball” approach, England started at the front.
Zac Crawley hit his second ball under cover for a four and they were gone, coming on 33 runs after just five overs when the field looked huge and gapped for Ireland.
Many questions had been raised about the opening partnership, particularly Crawley, but as the duo went on to eke out England’s half-century from just 7.2 overs.
After 9.2 overs, both batters, Crawley and Ben Duckett, scored over 100 strikeouts, with England following and Ireland showing their limited Test play experience.
Duckett built his half-century with just 53 deliveries while Crawley – at times almost literally – lived on the edge.
As he neared his half-century, the Kent opener saw the ball bounce off the inside edge three times in two overs, flying towards the boundary each time rather than slamming into the stumps.
It was a dream start for both of England’s opening pairs, but Crawley’s wicket ended the partnership when he hit the ball straight back to bowler Fionn Hand and had to concede it for 56.
The notion of England leveling the matchday seemed unlikely as the team only started batting at 4.40pm, but the side are known for defying the odds and Ireland must hope for a stroke of luck or a few clouds when it continues on Friday with 152 for one, just 20 runs short of Ireland’s total in first innings.