You do know England are playing Ireland next week, right?

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England are winning a lot, Ireland are losing a lot and all the talk is about the Ashes. This is an absolutely nailed-on Ireland victory. You know it.

Do you remember this situation last time around? In 2019, England thought they were warming up for the Ashes. Ireland, in contrast, came out like it was their first-ever opportunity to humiliate England in the longest format and promptly did precisely that.

The BBC’s Jonathan Agnew was ‘astonished’ that England were bowled out for 85. Anyone with half a clue how Ireland approach sports matches against England was not.

This time next week, England play Ireland in Test cricket for only the second time in the whole of history. That’s a big deal. Now obviously there weren’t too many games scheduled during the Carboniferous Period, but it does feel like maybe they could have found at least one other four-day slot in the years since. A return match at Malahide maybe?

That 2019 match didn’t actually pan out all that well for Ireland in the end and it’s odd to ponder how it’s remember by various people. For us, England’s 85 all out was the dramatic and memorable moment, but we get the sense that Ireland’s 38 all out in their second innings carried greatly more weight during negotiations about when to play again. It’s greatly inadvisable for nascent Test teams angling for more fixtures to embarrass either themselves or England when they do get a game – either eventuality would be held against them and somehow Ireland managed both.

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  1. I was there for denouement of the Ireland test. As I may have mentioned tediously often, it was the first of two occasions that summer when I would be in the ground to see England win after being bowled out for under 100 in the first innings.

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