The challenge of containing England's run-hungry batsmen wasn't lost on Ireland's senior seamer, Tim Murtagh
, who took the first over from the Nursery End and settled into his habitual Lord's line and length, a beat he's been keeping for nigh on a decade at Middlesex. But then, with his fourth ball, he overpitched just a touch, and Jason Roy was ready to make him pay. Out came that most sumptuous of straight drives, and a far-from-terrible delivery had been scorched straight back past the stumps for four.
Murtagh, however, couldn't be put off from doing what he does best, and in a superb opening spell of 6-0-16-1, he probed a fullish length with a bit of nibble off the seam, and demanded respect from England's openers. And his one breakthrough in that spell was a beauty. Alex Hales, seeing the ball well once again, had just clumped his sixth boundary through the covers, when Murtagh responded by nipping a cutter back up the slope. Hales, shaping for a repeat drive, was in no-man's land as the ball scudded through his bat and pad to take out middle and leg.
had been in a hurry to make his mark on his former team-mates, but the introduction of the lobby offspin of Paul Stirling so nearly brought him to a standstill. On 39, he gave himself room outside leg stump, but got himself in a tangle as Stirling speared the ball into his pads. The ball squeezed a path through his legs, rolled down into the crease and nestled tantalisingly at the base of the stumps. The bails, however, refused to budge, and England's captain breathed again.
Relay catches are becoming second nature to professional cricket teams all around the world, so there was nothing especially out of the ordinary about George Dockrell's brave effort on the midwicket boundary, as he stretched high to intercept a hoick across the line from Jonny Bairstow
, and fling it back into play once he realised his momentum was toppling back into the Mound Stand. However, the look on his face afterwards told a story. Where was his support? With no-one rushing round to offer him assistance, Dockrell had no option but to settle for a saved six.
Murtagh had shown the way where local knowledge of Lord's was concerned; now it was the turn of Ireland's other Middlesex regular, Paul Stirling
. Last week, he warmed up for this contest with 71 from 60 balls in Middlesex's Royal London clash with Sussex, and today he started with even more explicit intent, smashing five fours from his first eight balls to hurtle to 22 from eight. The pick of his innings was yet to come, however, a lean-back-and-wallop for six as Mark Wood dropped only a fraction too short. As with too many of Stirling's innings, it wasn't built to last, but it was certainly fun while it did.