Test victory over England would be new highlight for Irish Cricket: Balbirnie
Ireland captain Andrew Balbirnie said beating England in a Test would be “easily our best performance in cricket” as the underdogs prepare to take on Ben Stokes’ men at Lord’s this week.
The Irish built their reputation on their exploits in white-ball internationals.
They defeated Pakistan, England and the West Indies at the 2007, 2011 and 2015 50-over World Cups respectively, and beat eventual champions England at the 2022 T20 World Cup.
However, Ireland have only played six Tests in their history and are still looking for a first win in that form of the game.
Four years ago, in their previous Test at Lord’s, they dismissed England for just 85, but suffered a 143-run defeat after falling to 38 all-out themselves in the fourth innings of the match.
“It didn’t turn out the way we wanted, but we got a glimpse of what would happen if we won a test,” said Balbirnie on Wednesday night of the four-day test.
“And I think if we beat England that would easily be our best performance in cricket in the game.”
The odds are high against Ireland, however, with England winning 10 of their 12 Tests since skipper Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum joined forces last year.
“We know this England team is in a good place to lead to the Ashes,” said Balbirnie.
Ireland will be without Josh Little at Lord’s after the young fast bowler, who shone for the Gujarat Titans side that recently reached the final of the Indian Premier League, was rested for next month’s 50-over World Cup qualifier in Zimbabwe.
Little also missed Tests against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka after his IPL exploits.
Ireland’s high performance director Richard Holdsworth defended the 23-year-old’s absence from the field. A Test at Lord’s, an important milestone for most players, was not a “top event” for his side this year.
“Of course we would have loved him here, but I fully understand that he needs to concentrate on resting and preparing for our World Cup qualifier,” said Balbirnie.
“Josh played in an IPL final in his first IPL appearance, I’m not stupid, he’s being picked up by other leagues and we’ll get this situation again, but he still wants to play for Ireland.
“I have spoken to him and he still likes to play for this team.”
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