Perhaps someone should have warned Ireland. If you come at the king, you best not miss.
For two days, against the newly crowned world champion at Lord’s, Ireland dared to dream. It had embarrassed England’s batsmen and given itself a chance in a game few had expected it to challenge.
But on Friday, as the sun at last faded and the gloomy and murky skies began to engulf London, England’s bowlers brought a dark and shattering end to Ireland’s hopes.
Chasing 182 for victory, Ireland was blown away for just 38 — the seventh lowest total in the history of Test match cricket and lowest since 1955.
For Ireland, which had played some excellent cricket for much of the contest, this was a particularly cruel and painful end.
Chris Woakes claimed six wickets for 17 runs and Stuart Broad picked up four for 19 as Ireland’s innings last just 15.4 overs — the shortest innings in Test cricket for 92 years.
The size of Ireland’s defeat, 143 runs, was even more remarkable given its magnificent start to the contest — just the third Test match it has played since being granted status for the long-form version of the sport in 2017.
Led by Tim Murtagh, its 37-year-old bowler, Ireland humiliated England’s batsmen by dismissing the home side for just 85 — England’s lowest Test total on home soil since 1997.
It then inflicted further pain, making 207 in its first innings to take a 122 lead in the contest against an England team that had won the World Cup just 10 days earlier.
“We put ourselves in a position to win the game – that’s why we’re so gutted up there,” Ireland captain William Porterfield told Sky Sports after the game.
“We knew it was going to be tough with the lights on and drizzle in the air. But we had to dig deep and get through that. Fair play to the two lads to how they bowled — they made it difficult.
“If we had managed to get 50 or 70 more in the first innings, that turns it into a different chase today.”
England’s second innings, which was parked on 303-9 overnight, was swiftly ended with the opening delivery of Friday’s action when Olly Stone was dismissed by Stuart Thompson without scoring.
With the weather in London having cooled and gray skies overhead, Ireland’s batsmen walked out anticipating a hostile spell of bowling from Woakes and Broad who thrive in such conditions.
After losing its first wicket for 11 runs, Ireland collapsed horribly, slumping to 24-6.
Having successfully moved past the game’s lowest ever score of 26, which New Zealand was dismissed by England in 1955, Ireland made it to 32 before losing its last four wickets for just six runs.
“The bowling performance today was brilliant and we exploited the conditions fantastically well,” England captain Joe Root told the BBC.
“We put it in good areas and our attack in English conditions are the best in the world.
“On that pitch, it wasn’t a fair contest. That’s the way I’d like to put it but it was the same for both sides and you’ve got to find a way to win.”
England, which names its squad for the Ashes on Saturday, will now look ahead to the first Test against Australia at Edgbaston on August 1.