IRELAND fell to a ten-wicket defeat at Lord’s, with a dogged display of resistance batting taking the game deep into the third day. England couldn’t find a way through Andy McBrine, who was denied a century only by running out of partners.

One of the greatest honours for a cricketer is to have his name painted on the Lord’s honours board. That is reserved for those who score a hundred, or take five wickets in an innings, which is why ‘TJ Murtagh (Ireland) 2019’ is the only Irishman on it.

For a brief time yesterday it looked like there could be two more while McBrine (86*) and Mark Adair (88) were setting a new Ireland partnership record for any wicket. Ireland batters have put together five century stands in Tests - three of which have come for the lowly seventh wicket.

That all looked unlikely when the overnight pair, Harry Tector and Lorcan Tucker, were batting. Tector took 27 minutes to get off the mark by which time Tucker had doubled his overnight score to 42.

Tucker came undone again by his favourite sweep shot off Jack Leach’s second ball which ricocheted off his glove onto the stumps. He was devastated not to have made more than 44 having overtaken Andrew Balbirnie as Ireland’s highest run scorer in tests just seven weeks after his debut.

Tector fought on to his fourth fifty in four Tests, in 97 balls. But he hit the 98th, a long hop from Josh Tongue, into Harry Brook’s hands at backward point.

Curtis Campher came and went for a brisk 18 but gave supporters their highlight of the morning by hitting a pull off Root into the Mound Stand. There he was caught by Irish supporter Andy Leonard from Gorey, Co Wexford, who stood to receive the applause of the crowd, bowing and scraping like an Irish politician at a coronation.  

Campher’s departure could have heralded the end, but McBrine and Adair ducked and dodged the chin music and took their runs when they came. Adair faced just 76 balls for his 88 – his first 50 for Ireland – hitting 12 fours and two sixes, but tried to ramp Tongue and caught a fine edge through to Jonny Bairstow.

It is uncanny how Ireland’s tail delivers time and again, showing the side’s refusal to lay down. In theory a batting order packs its best players up top to allow them more chance to score runs. But counter-intuitively, in seven Tests to date Ireland’s top five wickets have scored 1,521 runs while the last five, mostly occupied by bowlers, have scored 1,706.

Fourteen innings is a reasonable sample, and might suggest that Ireland rethink its order, especially as the openers have mostly disappointed since the retirements of Ed Joyce and William Porterfield. Paul Stirling is a white-ball star opening the batting, while McBrine is a regular No.3 in club and interpro matches. Both would merit a shift up the order.

With James McCollum hors de combat after damaging his ankle on Friday, last man Graham Hume arrived at the wicket with 12 runs still needed to make England bat again and save Ireland from a third successive innings defeat.

They inched past parity and eventually set England 10 to win, which they got within four balls from the weary Adair, three of which Crawley smashed to the boundary.