It remains one of the great occasions of the English sporting summer and while this Lord’s Test match may be only the aperitif before the Ashes clash in four weeks’ time, the Ireland supporters flocked here in their thousands.

The weather may not have been as hot it was during the first Test between England and Ireland four years ago but the famous St John’s Wood ground was bathed in sunshine for the majority of the day. The spectators enjoyed it, the Ireland players not so much.

Can a team, which is so far behind the opposition in terms of talent and Test match experience and the huge difference in financial clout and resources of the respective boards, really enjoy the occasion?

In the build-up, the talk of head coach Heinrich Malan and skipper Andrew Balbirnie was, naturally, all positive, with memories of that first morning in 2019 when Tim Murtagh, with the help of Mark Adair, ripped through the England batting, dismissing them before lunch for 85.They had done it once, why not again?

They  may have had to wait almost four years for their next Test match but three red-ball games in Asia in the space of three weeks in April got them back into red-ball mode and here they were again – well, six of the players for the first time – facing England in a Test match.

For Fionn Hand it was a Test debut, getting the nod for the third seamer’s role ahead of Craig Young with the North Down bowler, just coming back from a long injury lay-off, ruled not fit enough to last the four days.

His proud mum, Brenda, a Cricket Ireland employee, was allowed into the team huddle on outfield to witness the moment, the first Fingal player to be capped in a Test match since Eoin Morgan (for England) who had the honour of ringing the five-minute bell before the start of the match.

Walking out to open the batting – Balbirnie having lost the toss – were James  McCollum and PJ Moor, with not only their parents watching on but in Moor’s case, 11 members of his extended family who had flown in from Harare on Wednesday.

It was Moor, a Clontarf team-mate, who had presented Hand with his Test cap but his maiden innings lasted only 12 balls, beaten by a nip-backer from Stuart Broad in the fifth over. It was a long way to come for his family but at least he is sure to have a second innings,

When Balbirnie and Tector followed Moor back to the pavilion in Broad’s next over – soft dismissals behind the wicket - to leave Ireland 19 for three, that 2019 total of 85 looked a distant prospect.

By lunch, they had recovered to 78 for four which, considering the overcast conditions throughout most of the two-hour session was not the worst outcome but Paul Stirling also gifted his wicket,  caught off the glove sweeping spinner Jack Leach.

Less than two and a half hours later Ireland had been bowled out for 172, Hand the last man out and McCollum’s patient 36 remaining the high score of the innings.

Now it was time for Bazball - the new way of batting in Test cricket under Stokes and coach Brendan McCullum -  except that England didn’t have to go out of their way to score quickly.  They just had to wait for the bad ball which, for 10 overs came much too frequently.

While Ireland’s batsmen had to face the 90mph speed and enthusiasm of Test debutant Josh Tongue and the vast experience and skill of Stuart Broad, Ireland had Mark Adair and Graham Hume who served up at least one boundary ball in each of the first nine overs.

Ben Duckett needed only 33 balls to become the highest scorer of the match and with Zac Crawley helping himself to three successive fours off Adair both openers brought up their half-centuries in back to back deliveries.

Hand could be excused a nervous start – 17 runs came off his first eight balls – but he was soon into his rhythm and his maiden Test wicket ended the partnership at 109. It remains Ireland’s only success and with Joe Root, Stokes, Harry Brook and Johnny Bairstow to come, more pain for the players is, likely, on the cards today.

At least the spectators can enjoy the experience.