Bengaluru, July 24: July 24, 2019, is a historic day in cricket. Newcomers Ireland will take on England in their one-off Test match at the iconic Lord's though the game will be a four-day affair. This is the first time in the century-plus history of Test cricket that two European nations will be locking horns in a Test match.
However, the two opponents will be vastly unequal, at least in terms of experience. While England will be playing their 1,011th match since starting in 1877, the Irish will be appearing in just their third after having made their debut last year at home against Pakistan. Can they bridge the 141-year of experience in four days starting Wednesday?
England, who recently won the 50-over World Cup under the leadership of the Irish-born Eoin Morgan, haven't have played enough against Ireland. Their only T20I was not completed while in the ODIs, they met 10 times. However, Ireland's top moment against their senior opponents came in Bengaluru in the 2011 World Cup when they had successfully chased a target of 330 with three wickets in hand. Kevin O'Brien's 113 off 63 balls had taken the game away from the Three Lions on that occasion.
Ireland now face history once again. Captain William Porterfield said that the occasion itself is a huge achievement for Irish cricket as they will be playing in whites at the historic venue of Lord's.
"It's right up there, if not the pinnacle for everything that's been achieved with Irish cricket," Porterfield was quoted as saying by BBC.
"Obviously we've got a few World Cups under our belts, but getting to Test cricket and getting the opportunity to play here at the home of cricket is a pretty special thing."
"It's a mental test as much as anything, there is a lot of county cricket and four-day first-class experience within the side so we have all that to draw on."
Ireland fought in both their matches, especially in the second innings
Ireland gave fights to both their opponents in Tests so far - Pakistan and Afghanistan - though they eventually lost. While Pakistan won the game by 5 wickets after asking the Irish to follow on, Afghanistan won in the one-off Test they played against Ireland in Dehradun by 7 wickets this March. On both occasions, Ireland produced better performances with the bat in the second innings after a failure in the first. They will look to bring the better show an innings ahead this time.
Ireland could not qualify for this year's World Cup, something that would have seen then play in the showpiece event in England for the first time but they are looking forward to rubbing shoulders with the just-crowned world champions in the red-ball format. And like New Zealand who are proud of Christchurch-born Ben Stokes despite losing to England in the final, Ireland are also feeling fantastic about Morgan who led England to their maiden WC title.
Ireland will be clear underdogs even if England will not have the most successful pacer in Tests James Anderson in their ranks but for Porterfield, it's a "11 guys versus 11 guys" affair and advised his side to take each delivery as it comes.