England captain Root relieved as Ireland pitch battle ends in victory

England's Joe Root takes the catch to dismiss Ireland's James McCollum. (Reuters)
Updated 26 July 2019

England captain Root relieved as Ireland pitch battle ends in victory

  • “It’s hard for anyone to read too much into these very extreme condition,” says England captain

LONDON: England captain Joe Root defended his side’s batsmen ahead of the Ashes after Chris Woakes and Stuart Broad spared their blushes by skittling Ireland out for just 38 to complete a crushing Test match win at Lord’s.
The hosts had been bowled out for 85 in their first innings on Wednesday but, with nightwatchman Jack Leach making a career-best 92 second-time around, they were able to set Ireland a target of 182 on Friday.
Ireland then collapsed in a mere 15.4 overs, with Woakes taking a Test-best 6-17 and fellow seamer Broad 4-19 as England won by 143 runs.
A match scheduled for four days rather than the usual five allocated for a Test was all over before lunch on the third.
England’s top-order problems remain a worry ahead of next week’s first Test against Australia in Birmingham, with the Ashes-holding tourists looking to win a series away to their arch-rivals for the first time in 19 years.
But Root insisted a “substandard” pitch prepared by Irish groundsman Karl McDermott, in his first season at Lord’s, was to blame for their batting woes in England’s first match at the ‘home of cricket’ since they won the World Cup there 12 days earlier.
“First innings, last innings... when you are getting scores like that it tells a story in itself,” said Root.
With doubts over Australia’s batting as well, the Ashes could come down to which side can give their attack enough runs to play with.
“Australia will be thinking, ‘it’s doing a bit in England’,” said Root with a smile.
“It’s hard for anyone to read too much into these very extreme conditions but I’m sure the bowlers will like the look of the surfaces here and it’s bubbling up nicely for a very entertaining first game.”
Root was one of five players in the England side that beat Ireland — Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Moeen Ali and Woakes were the others — who had also played in the World Cup final.
Fellow World Cup-winners Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes were rested from the Ireland game but they all now face a frantic Ashes schedule of five Tests in just over six weeks.
“You have to suck it up and get on with it,” said Root. “It’s a hard slog for guys to play all five of these games and be at the top of their game.”
Meanwhile England coach Trevor Bayliss questioned his side’s attitude.
“For matches like this we have to take a good hard look at ourselves,” he said. “We have no problems getting up for games against Australia and India.
“Do we take the foot off for matches like this? Are we able to get in the mood to compete and be ruthless?“
Ireland have yet to win any of their three Tests following previous defeats by Pakistan and Afghanistan.
But this was arguably the most painful given their fine start, with veteran paceman Tim Murtagh taking 5-13 on his Middlesex home ground in England’s first innings.
Ireland’s second innings, however, was the lowest by any Test side since 1955.
“We’re pretty gutted,” said Ireland captain William Porterfield. “We had the chance to win it. That shows you how much it hurts.”
Nevertheless, the opening batsman added: “That first couple of hours is going to stay with players and Irish fans for a long time.
“To take 10 wickets in the first session of a Lord’s Test was an unbelievable effort and for Tim Murtagh to get up on the honors board is never going to be taken away from him.”
Ireland’s next Test is not until February, away to Sri Lanka in Galle, and they don’t yet know when they will play England in the format again.
“We’d love to play games like this every week in front of a full house at Lord’s,” said Porterfield.
“Every game we’ve played we have put ourselves in a position to win the game and so a few more games like this will potentially put us over the line.”


Manchester United and City seek derby delight

Updated 06 December 2019

Manchester United and City seek derby delight

  • Liverpool travel to Bournemouth aiming to surge further clear at the top of the points chart

LONDON: Both sides of the Manchester divide will be hoping some derby delight can add impetus to disappointing seasons when City host United on Saturday, while Liverpool travel to Bournemouth aiming to surge further clear at the top of the Premier League.

Manchester United got a badly needed win for manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on Wednesday, inflicting a first defeat on Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho as the Portuguese returned to Old Trafford.

The Red Devils were again reliant on Marcus Rashford goals as the England forward struck twice to take his tally to 12 in 13 games for club and country.

“He was strong, direct, taking people on, inside and outside with no fear,” said Solskjaer. “That’s what we want — we want to see boys enjoying themselves.”

There has been precious little for United fans to enjoy this season, but just a fifth Premier League victory in 15 games was enough to lift them up to sixth.

That is still 11 points adrift of third-placed City, despite their own struggles at times.

Pep Guardiola’s men looked more like their old selves in thrashing Burnley 4-1 on Tuesday with Gabriel Jesus stepping up in the absence of the injured Sergio Aguero to score twice.

City have lost just one of six league meetings with United since Guardiola took charge three years ago and cannot afford to slip up if they are to maintain any aspirations of catching Liverpool in the title race. The English champions could kick off at the Etihad 14 points behind the leaders, should Jurgen Klopp’s men continue their scintillating form at Bournemouth earlier on Saturday.

“For the distance we are behind Liverpool it would be crazy to think about the title, we have to think about the derby,” said Guardiola.

Klopp could even afford the luxury of leaving Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah on the bench for a 5-2 thrashing of Everton in the Merseyside derby in midweek.

Both are expected to return for the visit to the south coast, but Klopp may rest some of his stars who did start against Everton ahead of a huge week for the European champions.

Liverpool travel to Salzburg in the Champions League on Tuesday needing to avoid defeat if their defense of the title is not to embarrassingly end in the group stages.

Divock Origi scored twice against Everton and Xherdan Shaqiri struck on his first start of the season to prove Klopp does have the strength in depth to successfully shuffle his pack.

“It’s easy for me to tell them often, very often, how good they are but if they then don’t play it’s not too easy for them to always understand what I say,” said Klopp.

“But if they play and deliver like they did, it’s a very, very important sign for the whole squad.”

Leicester remain Liverpool’s closest challengers, eight points back in second, thanks to a run of eight straight wins in all competitions.

“The team is developing and are proving they have a winning mentality and mindset,” said Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers, who has dismissed speculation linking him with the vacant managerial role at Arsenal.

Next up for the in-form Foxes is a trip to Aston Villa on Sunday.

Villa are one of a host of teams hauled back into the battle to avoid relegation by Southampton’s resurgence with Dean Smith’s men just one point above the drop zone.