THE BUZZ of the new and exciting was missing from Lord’s yesterday as Ireland’s second Test appearance at the famous old ground produced a familiar lack of first-innings runs against England, and an inability to take wickets.

Four years ago there was noticeably more green in the crowd as Tim Murtagh worked his morning magic, and those fans who did make the pilgrimage this time saw their side bowled out for 172 and the home side reach 152-1 in reply.

Opener James McCollum grafted his way through a tricky morning session, in overcast conditions, and on to a top score of 36, while Paul Stirling and Curtis Campher made similar contributions without ever threatening a telling knock.

“There’s plenty of self-reflection going on in the dressing room tonight,” coach Heinrich Malan said. “Hopefully we can come out and put on a better exhibition in the second innings.

“It wasn’t unplayable. We put together a couple of decent partnerships in the middle but we couldn’t kick on.

“With the bowling, with the attack we have at the moment, with a couple of players missing, we’ve got to be very disciplined and perhaps that was a bit lacking.”

All but two of the first nine batsmen reached double figures - but it was an important two: Andy Balbirnie and Harry Tector who fell in the space of three balls from Stuart Broad, the skipper caught in the cordon, and his successor glancing to leg slip.

Neither scored and will no doubt regret batting only once for a combined total of 16 balls in the warm-up match against Essex last week, although Tector could barely believe he had fallen for such a sucker punch, and neither could the crowd.

A shaky 19-3 briefly became 19-4 next ball when Stirling was given lbw only to be reprieved on review. 

Oddly enough, it would not have been the first time the former Middlesex man had been involved in a triple-wicket maiden - that rarest of beasts - at Lord’s.

Stirling helped McCollum add 45 for the fourth wicket - passing the miserable 38 all out that Ireland made on their last visit to ‘Headquarters’ in the process - before he looped a catch to the keeper attempting to sweep spinner Jack Leach on 30.

McCollum’s vigil ended with a tame edge to slip, Lorcan Tucker failed to find his rhythm despite several adventurous dances down the pitch, Mark Adair was bowled to give veteran Broad his umpteenth Test five-fer and the innings folded quickly after Campher was bowled for 33.

England openers Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett then enjoyed themselves in the evening sunshine, adding 109 in only 16 overs before the former drove a waist-high chance back to debutant Fionn Hand and was caught at the second attempt.

It was a moment to remember for the big man from Clontarf, and his mother Brenda watching on proudly, but the rest of the day was forgettable for Irish fans and it’s hard to see it improving much today.