On May 11th 2018 Ireland played their first Test match against Pakistan. The weather is completely different from how it was for the first match of last season. I look forward to continuing my Cricket Portfolio Index. There will essentially be two indices that will be running side by side. The first will be the main index and the second will be the World Test Championship.
Ireland and Afghanistan played just two Tests last year. So far they have only one Test planned for 2019. I strongly believe that the only way Ireland and Afghanistan can improve in all formats of the game is to play more Test cricket. Teams visit England and India. I strongly believe that the only way that they can improve is to have each team that visits England and India play Ireland and Afghanistan before they start playing the Test series. This will improve their game across all formats. Ireland has nothing to lose in this Test. They will only learn from this game. The focus on England will be the openers. There has not been a settled and reliable opening partnership since Andrew Strauss retired in 2012. It is sad to say but I think that most of the English followers will be happy if England’s openers see off the new ball. The balls in these Test matches will be more bowler-friendly which makes the roles of the openers extremely crucial. Joe Denly’s role will also be crucial as Joe Root wants to bat at four as it gives him a break from captaincy. If the top three fail then Joe Root may as well prepare himself to bat at three.
The playing XI is below. Jason Roy and Olly Stone are making their debut for England while Mark Adair does so for Ireland. Jason Roy was obviously picked based on his white-ball form. Olly Stone has probably been picked for his pace. Lewis Gregory’s injury could also have been a contributing factor. This English side on paper is rightly looking extremely weak. Five players have come directly from the World Cup.
I fear that the lack of seriousness with which England has approached this Test combined with the lack of James Anderson could mean that Ireland will have a better chance of winning this game than the 55/1 odds that the bookmakers suggest. I cannot say for certain that Ireland will win but neither can I confidentially state that England will roll over Ireland.
This Test will be a four day Test match. It will be longer with a minimum of 98 overs to be played instead of 90. This would imply 392 overs will have to be bowled instead of 450. I do hope that we do not see the end of five day Tests. Rain is currently predicted for the fourth day of the match while tomorrow may see temperatures reach 38 centigrade. This would mean that there is a chance that the umpires have the option to decide whether excessive heat can count as dangerous conditions to continue play. An Irish win will be great for the game and possibly as embarrassing as the game against Scotland. England went on to win the One Day Series against Australia after that. The result of this game may have little impact on the first match of the Ashes. I can live with Ireland winning this Test if England wins the Ashes.