Umpire's Blog : A truly momentous occasion it could have been, had the underdog triumphed yet again.
However, in the end the strength of the England team and a man of the match performance by Joe Root, was too much for a spirited Irish side.
The London crowd thus witnessed no repeat of the David toppling Goliath heroics in Bangalore from a few years hence. Final Score : England 328-6 from 50 overs, defeated Ireland 243 all out out from 46.1 overs.
Nobody questioned the decision to have a bowl when skipper Porterfield won the toss and put England in, because the conditions looked tricky enough for batting, but, after a steady start and the loss of a couple of wickets, once Root and Eoin Morgan played themselves in, and the weather warmed and the pitch dried, things looked rather different.
Indeed, Tim Murtagh was tidy and threatened, but at the other end Peter Chase found it difficult to contain England's openers. Murtagh struck in his sixth over, and not long after, the young and impressive Barry McCarthy took his first ever Lords wicket, reducing the hosts to 63-2 after 13 overs.
Try as they might, Ireland struggled to contain the inventive captain Morgan, whose attacking strokeplay was matched at the other end by an in-form Joe Root, who scored at a rate of a run a ball. Both men plundered regular boundaries and brought a third-wicket partnership of 140 runs to the table, before being dismissed in fairly quick succession for 76 and 73 respectively.
By over 42, England had made 230-5, with Rashid and Billings adding runs, and the platform had been set for a score around the 300 mark.
Porterfield tinkered with his attack and made numerous bowling changes to unsettle the batsmen, and the return of Chase saw him bowl much better. Spinner Dockrell took a wicket and McCarthy added a second, however, a blistering innings from Bairstow (72 not out) propelled England to a final score of 328, with a massive 61 runs made from the final four overs, the last three all going for 17 runs apiece as the Irish bowlers wilted under pressure and some big hitting from the Yorkshire man.
It was a large total, yet with Bangalore still in the memory, it was a total that was gettable, as was evidenced by the way in which Irish opener Paul Stirling set about the England bowling with great gusto, despatching both Mark Wood and David Willey all over the ground in a sparkling cameo of 48 runs, before nicking Jake Ball to wicket-keeper Billings.
With the score on 72-1 after 14 overs, Ireland were ahead of the chase. Enter Root and his innocuous off-spin to derail the Irish batting attack with a 10-over spell which saw him take 3 crucial wickets. At one end, Will Porterfield stood firm, but at the other, wickets fell regularly to both Root and the impressive Liam Plunkett, who was very economical.
With the score on 185-6 after 37 overs, it looked as if the win was in the bag for England, with Ireland needing another 144 runs at over ten runs an over, from 13 overs and only four wickets remaining.
The introduction of Kevin O'Brien saw a couple of big shots, as leg spinner Rashid was hammered for sixes and fours, by O'Brien and then Porterfield, but before he could really get going, and back up the potential with some promise, O'Brien holed out, top edging another big shot, after getting the Irish part of the crowd very excited, in a brief spell which saw the batting team make 36 runs in 3 overs.
Indeed, at 221-6 off 40 overs, Ireland were one run ahead of England, who had made 220-4 at the same stage.
However, the fightback did not last and despite some spirited shots from spinner George Dockrell, Ireland had no answer for Plunkett, who took 3 wickets for only 23 runs from his spell of 8 overs, and a resurgent Mark Wood, who came back on to take 2 wickets for only 9 runs in a final 3.1 over spell.
Porterfield finished with a top score of 82, but once he and O'Brien had been dismissed, it was men against boys and England's dominance was apparent.
England captain Eoin Morgan: "Bristol was a more convincing win and today presented us with different challenges.
"There was some cloud cover this morning and the openers got us off to a fantastic start. I shared in a good partnership with Joe Root and then Jonny Bairstow and Adil Rashid saw us home after a little wobble."
Ireland captain Will Porterfield: "I thought we were much improved today.
"We put a lot of things right - we bowled well and kept going when the big partnership got going and it took Jonny Bairstow to play well to get them to that big total.
"I think with the bat we were just a couple of wickets behind and that stopped us going for it at the end."
A win by 85 runs told its own story, but it had perhaps been closer than the scorecard might suggest, and with such a spirited performance despite the gulf in ability between the sides, cemented Ireland's claim to be taken seriously in the quest to become a fully acknowledged Test match side.
With funding and support at grass roots level, such as investment in Munster Cricket, there is no reason why this cannot be achieved, Eoin Morgan himself is proof that Ireland can produce quality players.
Carl J. Ashley
07 May 2017