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Three things we learned from the England-Ireland Test

Fast bowler Josh Tongue C took five wickets on his England debut © Glyn KIRK AFP

Here are three key takeaways from England’s 11th victory in 13 Tests since Ben Stokes became captain and Brendon McCullum became coach last year.

Tongue Seizes His Opportunity

Fast bowler Josh Tongue proved himself to be a wise selection by coach Brendon McCullum and captain Ben Stokes, as he made his Test debut against Ireland and took 5-66 in their second innings. At just 25 years old, Tongue can bowl at speeds exceeding 91 mph, which can trouble even the best batsmen.

Tongue was a late addition to the squad due to concerns about the fitness of James Anderson and Ollie Robinson. However, he has now retained his position in the squad for the first two Ashes Tests.

In the words of Stokes, “He was very unlucky in the first innings not to get a wicket, but he definitely reaped the rewards, and the way he bowled contributed to the five wickets he got in this innings because they (Ireland) were already on the back foot against him, knowing he had that extra bit of pace.”

Leach Struggles to Contain Runs

England’s reliance on spinner Jack Leach may increase against Australia, especially if Ben Stokes is unable to bowl due to fitness issues. If Leach can bowl a decent number of overs economically while also taking wickets, it will allow Stokes to rotate his quick bowlers and save them from long, tiring spells.

However, there are concerns about Leach’s ability to contain runs, as tailenders Andy McBrine and Mark Adair had a record-breaking partnership of 163 runs against him during the Ireland match. Even Stokes, who has been a strong supporter of Leach, may have some concerns about this.

Leach’s bowling figures of 1-90 in 20 overs are likely to have caught Australia’s attention, and England will need to consider their options carefully before the Ashes.

Ireland Shows Promise Despite Defeat

Ireland’s seventh Test match ended with another loss, as they continue to search for their first win at this level. However, their team, which has minimal first-class experience, can take heart from their performance in the match against England. They managed to avoid an innings defeat, which looked likely when they resumed on Saturday, 255 runs behind with just three wickets remaining.

Mark Adair scored 88 runs, while Andy McBrine remained unbeaten on 86, batting in a style reminiscent of England’s ‘Bazball’. The only disappointment for Ireland was that neither player was able to score a Test century at the ‘Home of Cricket’.

Ireland captain Andrew Balbirnie expressed his pride in the team’s performance, saying “We showed glimpses today and can be proud of that.” Despite the defeat, Ireland can take positives from their performance and look to build on them in the future.

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