When Ireland arrived at Lord’s for their first ever Test match at the Home of Cricket, they couldn’t have had a better man to lead their bowling attack than Tim Murtagh.
In a 19-year county career for Surrey and Middlesex, Murtagh had taken 291 first-class wickets on the Ground; he knew the pitch and how to use the local conditions as well as any bowler in cricket. He proved his expertise on the game’s very first morning.
England, fresh from their World Cup triumph, were expected to make short work of the Test newcomers. When they won the toss and batted, no-one expected them to be all out before lunch. But in humid conditions, Murtagh swung the ball like the expert he was, claiming five of the first six wickets as England slumped to 42 for 6 after little more than an hour’s play. England were finished off for just 85 on the stroke of lunch, a shocking return to earth for the newly crowned World Champions. Murtagh had figures of 5 for 13 from just nine overs. Ireland sped past England to reach 127 for 2 by tea, but after the interval their innings fell away to 207 all out.
20 wickets had fallen in a day of unbelievable drama. Murtagh bowled with great control but wasn’t able to repeat his wicket-taking feats in England’s second innings. Jack Leach, in the unusual position of nightwatchman opener, made 92 as England set the visitors a seemingly achievable target of 182. But the drama of the first morning was repeated as Chris Woakes and Stuart Broad skittled Ireland for just 38 in 15.4 overs. They might have lost by 143 runs, but Ireland’s first day performance had shown that they were no easy pushovers at Test level, and Murtagh had shown what all county batsmen already knew: he was a bowler to be feared at Lord’s.