England made it 11 wins out of 13 under Ben Stokes’ full-time captaincy with a comprehensive 10-wicket win over Ireland at Lord’s, their last Test before the 2023 Ashes.
Here are four takeaways from England’s dominant performance:
Tongue passes Ashes audition
Josh Tongue was a surprise debutant for England and impressed in what was effectively an Ashes audition for the Worcestershire seamer. He bowled fast, long spells, occasionally touching 90mph, and deservedly picked up a second innings five-wicket haul after going wicketless in the first innings. His skipper Stokes was impressed with what he saw. After play on day three, Stokes said: “I told him the role that I saw him playing in this team as our third seamer, and used him in a way to get different types of spells out of one bowler. His first spell, he came on and bowled really well pitching the ball up.
“Then we looked to use his pace to use him as the aggressor when we needed to and the wicket got a bit flat. For him to show he’s more than one type of bowler does us the world of good as a team going forward, knowing we’ve found someone else who can fulfil the role of the guys with the extra pace.”
Tongue was added to England’s squad for the first two Ashes Tests and with Jofra Archer and Olly Stone both out injured, he’s the clear back-up to Mark Wood.
England go flat on third afternoon
The only blot on England’s copybook this week was their struggle in the field on the third afternoon as Ireland’s lower-order ensured that England had to bat again. With the old ball, England lacked penetration and struggled to stem the flow of runs. Leach was impressive in the first innings but registered figures of 1-90 off 20 overs in the second; how he fares against Australia’s imposing middle order will be one of the most fascinating battles in the Ashes. It is possible, perhaps even likely, that the three seamers used at Lord’s will all be on the bench for the first Ashes Test at Edgbaston with Ollie Robinson, James Anderson and Wood all set to return. England will need to be far better with the old ball.
Duckett and Pope make hay against poor Irish attack
Ben Duckett and Ollie Pope both registered career-best Test scores as they capitalised on a lacklustre showing from the Ireland attack. Too often Duckett and Pope were gifted four balls and both scored briskly without risk. Australia’s battery of quicks are worlds ahead of Ireland’s inexperienced attack; there will be a completely different test for the England batters at Edgbaston.
Brook and Stokes go to Edgbaston light on time in the middle
Harry Brook faced just seven deliveries when Stokes declared in the first innings while the England captain didn’t bat (or bowl) himself. Both are short of match practice having spent time on the bench for their respective IPL franchises but there’s an argument to be made that such is the calibre of the Irish bowling unit, there wasn’t much to be gained by some time in the middle with England so far ahead in the game.