For the entire Irish cricket fraternity, it is going to be a special Sunday tomorrow (May 7) as the Ireland senior national team will make its international debut at the holiest cathedral of cricket – the Lord’s, also known as the ‘Home of Cricket’.
Ireland cricket has a deep-rooted association with the Thomas Lord’s old ground in St John’s Wood, as well as with both the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) and Middlesex Cricket Club, the respective owner, and tenants of the Lord’s cricket ground. From the great London Irish batsman Patsy Hendren to current England limited-over’s skipper Eoin Morgan, Middlesex have more Irish tradition than any other English county. MCC too is hosting Irish teams since the mid-nineteenth century.
In May 1858, an Irish team first stepped on to Lord’s ground and ended up beating MCC by an innings and 10 runs in a low-scoring two-day match.
Depicting the rich tradition of Irish cricket at Lord’s an article at The Irish Times mentioned, “Ireland fairly lorded it over the MCC at Lord’s over the next century, losing just once in 19 games up until the early 1950s. The record swung the other way in the latter half of the 20th century and Ireland go into Sunday’s game having won 14 and lost 14 matches at the ground.”
“And that holds true for off the pitch too, from the legendary cook Nancy Doyle [an Irishman], who made sure former England captain Mike Gatting’s plate was always full, to former England Cricket Board media manager Maria O’Donoghue, who partly credited her ability to deal with the demands of the world’s media to attending Roscommon County Board meetings with her father as a youngster,” the article further added.
Meanwhile, if one looks at the associations of current Irish cricketers with English county cricket, it will be found that most of them have had the pleasure of sharing the home dressing room at Lord’s, thanks to their Middlesex contracts. Starting from Ed Joyce in the late 1990s to the likes of Morgan, Boyd Rankin, Paul Stirling, Tim Murtagh and Andrew Balbirnie – all have been an integral part or the Middlesex side in recent years.
For all these cricketers Sunday’s match will be a very special occasion. Interestingly, the icing on the cake will be, two Ireland born cricketers will go for the toss in this historic match.
Former England cricket, David Gower believes, the inclusion of Lord’s as one of the venues for Ireland’s first ever bilateral tour of England (International) is great gesture on the part of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and this ground will add a richer flavour to this tie as well as in the England-Ireland relationship.
“Yeah I think it is a warm embrace. I would say that’s recognition that Ireland has made huge strides in the last decade or so. They are working mighty hard to continue to improve. It will be a special day,” Gower told The Ireland Times.
As many as 1,000 fans from Ireland are expected to travel to London to witness this moment. Thus, along with the typical MCC members in their bacon and eggs jackets and ties in the member’s pavilion and die hard English supporters in the grand stands, there will be the traditional Irish flavour at the Lord’s as well on Sunday.
Hope the Irish boys can lift themselves up following the thrashing defeat at Bristol and make their presence felt at the ‘Home of Cricket’ in front of expected 25,000 spectators.