Stuart Broad toasted the near-perfect start to a big summer after his five-wicket haul helped England dismiss Ireland for 172 before the hosts finished only 20 runs behind on the opening day of the one-off Test at Lord’s.
Broad ripped through the Irish top order during the first hour on his way to figures of five for 51 from 17 overs to get himself on the Lord’s honours board for the first time since 2013.
James McCollum (36), Paul Stirling (30) and Curtis Campher (33) all made starts but could not kick on with Jack Leach helping himself to three wickets and Matthew Potts securing a brace of scalps.
It was then over to Ben Duckett and Zak Crawley, who wasted little time getting back into the groove and played true to the aggressive ‘Bazball’ style that has taken the nation by storm with fifties in a century opening stand to help England close on 152 for one.
“When you win the toss and bowl, your aim is to bowl the team out in a day so to have done that was a big tick,” Broad reflected a day before the one-year anniversary of the Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum era.
“Then I thought the way the three guys played this evening was exactly the mindset that Baz and Stokesy want. It was positive, aggressive, put the bowlers under pressure and we’ll hopefully see a bit more of that tomorrow.
“It is obviously always nice when you get on the honours board at Lords but no major difference between four wickets and five wickets really.
“It feels good for me leading the attack this week to have taken a few poles and got us on the front foot as a team, but I thought we did really well as a whole group. It is almost the perfect start to a big summer.”
With James Anderson and Ollie Robinson rested ahead of the Ashes opener on June 16, Broad relished the chance to lead an England attack that contained debutant Josh Tongue and Potts playing his first Test since August.
The Nottinghamshire seamer claimed the 20th five-wicket haul of his Test career to move within 19 of the 600-wicket mark which could be achieved during the upcoming series with Australia.
Broad is not nailed on to start the first Test at Edgbaston with Mark Wood and Chris Woakes for competition but did his case no harm and accepts he will sit out some Ashes fixtures during the next two months.
He added: “I love Ashes cricket but I can honestly say to you whether I play the first, the second or the fifth (Test), my mindset is the same, just have an impact on the game, change the momentum and look to put in a performance that will win the Test.
“I feel like I have done that. I bowled beautifully in my first Test match at Mount Maunganui after last summer, bowled nicely at Wellington, bowled nicely here today.
“I think we all know, not that there has been any talk of the Ashes in our group, that we need an armoury of bowlers over the next six weeks.
“The games come round thick and fast and it is unrealistic to think any bowler will play six Tests in a row, so we’ll need a few of us to be ripe and ready.
“It is great when you look around the changing room, obviously there are a few injuries about with Jof (Jofra Archer) and (Olly) Stoney, then niggles with Robbo and Jimmy, but you only have to look at the bowlers that aren’t playing this week like Woakesy, Jimmy, Robbo and Woody to know we have a lot of strength in depth.”
England captain Ben Stokes was not required to bowl with Ireland all out in the 57th over and after debutant Tongue impressed in an enforcer role that saw him clock 91mph.
Ireland head coach Heinrich Malan was left disappointed with their showing after a poor batting display was followed by Crawley crunching 56 off 45 balls while Duckett finished on 60 not out alongside Ollie Pope, unbeaten on 29, after they tucked into some wayward bowling by the tourists.
“Obviously not our best day, to be honest, I think it’s a little bit more disappointment around the way we went about our business,” Malan said.
“I didn’t necessarily think that they played, you know, Bazball, if you want to term it that way, because I just think we didn’t bowl that well.
“They batted pretty well, with us bowling pretty averagely. So look, I hope we can bowl a little bit better tomorrow.”