LONDON: Joe Root, England’s captain, has described the Lord’s pitch as “substandard for a Test match” after seeing his side run through Ireland for 38 on the third morning, securing victory by 143 runs. England had been skittled for 85 themselves on the first day and Root suggested conditions were too heavily weighted in favour of seam-bowling.
He also denied that England’s players had experienced difficulty lifting themselves for the four-day Test with Ireland, just ten days after winning the World Cup at the same ground, and described himself as “pretty confident” ahead of the Ashes, with the first Test starting in Birmingham on Thursday.
“I don’t like saying this but the wicket was substandard for a Test match,” Root said. “I thought it wasn’t… not even close to a fair contest between bat and ball throughout the whole game.
“Australia will be thinking it’s doing a bit in England. It’s hard for anyone to read too much into this in very extreme conditions.
“We weren’t at our best by any stretch. We managed certain periods very well. We were put under pressure by Ireland. They exploited the conditions on that first morning in particular extremely well. But we found a way to win a game. First innings, last innings, when you are getting scores like that, that tells a story in itself when the scores are as low as that on a surface that you play on.”
Having been set 182 to win, Ireland were demolished for the seventh-lowest total in Test cricket, with Chris Woakes taking six wickets and Stuart Broadfour, to wrap up the game inside three days and avert English embarrassment.
“No, it wasn’t difficult to lift ourselves,” Root told Sky Sports. “Managing the schedule is part and parcel of international cricket now, I think you have to get used to it and find a way to manage individually. But it’s not always as straightforward as that, especially crossing formats. So it’s been good for us to play in this game and to play and get the result that we have at the end of it I think we’ll get a lot from it.
“I thought Ireland were excellent throughout, I thought they bowled brilliantly in both innings and today I just thought we were excellent with the ball.”
With England set to name their Ashes squad on Saturday ahead of the first Test, Root said the hosts would be ready for the Australians.
“Yeah, pretty confident,” Root said. “We’ll have a final meeting today at some point and make sure that we’re all very clear but it’s an exciting time for everyone. It’s nice to go into it with this win and to have managed some pressure situations, come out the other side. But you know Ashes cricket is very special and the guys will be getting very much their minds around that now, the next few days off and then when we turn to practice it will be all go.”
Root said England’s 31-run defeat of India at Edgbaston last year, when the tourists needed a second-innings 194 to win and were bowled out for 162, had given his side confidence that they could manage a similar pressure scenario on a pitch he described as “very bowler friendly”. And he was happy to be able to throw the ball to seasoned campaigners Woakes and Broad to get the job done while Sam Curran and Olly Stone – who took three wickets each in Ireland’s first innings – went unused in the second.
“They were outstanding,” Root said of Woakes and Broad. “And it’s nice to know, you’ve got two guys that didn’t even get an opportunity today that also contributed very well throughout the game. It’s very pleasing, especially with the ball and the way that we managed certain situations, certain pressure situations through the game, I thought we managed pretty well.
“It wasn’t by any stretch, a perfect game for us. But sometimes that can be a really important part in your learning for a team and I certainly think we’ll take a lot from this game.”