England v Ireland Test at Lord's: Betting preview and free tips

Chris Woakes is backed to star by our Richard Mann

England conclude their Ashes preparations by hosting Ireland at Lord's on Wednesday - Richard Mann previews the action and has two tips, including a 12/1 chance.

Recommended bets

3pts Tim Murtagh top Ireland bowler at 10/3

1pt Chris Woakes to be Man of the Match at 12/1


England fans might still be basking in the glory of their dramatic World Cup triumph but attention has quickly turned to the forthcoming Ashes series which follows this week's Lord's Test match against Ireland.

Though there has been a shift in focus for English cricket in recent years, with the same level of importance finally given to the two limited-overs formats as the Test game, there is no doubt that the Ashes remains the holy grail for many England fans and players alike and the hysteria and excitement created following that dramatic victory over New Zealand should only ramp up the anticipation ahead of next month's showdown with Australia.

An appetiser against Ireland at Lord's feels like a nice way to ease into that series but England must be careful not to underestimate their opponents, a highly-motivated and fiercely-competitive unit who raised their game to pull off one of the great World Cup shocks when beating England in India in 2011.

Much of that Irish side remains with William Porterfield once again captain and Kevin O'Brien, the hero of Bangalore, still going strong at 35 years of age.

Boyd Rankin, who played in an Ashes Test for England back in 2014, doesn't boast the pace of old but he is still expected to help form an Irish bowling attack whose key weapon is Tim Murtagh, a skilled seam and swing bowler who will know conditions at Lord's better than anyone having plied his trade with great success for Middlesex for much of his career.

Ireland will certainly feel they have the individuals capable of pushing England close, just as they did against Pakistan last year, but their best hope might be an England World Cup hangover.

The decision to rest Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler, and injuries to bowlers James Anderson, Mark Wood and Jofra Archer, means that England are a long way from full strength this week and for many in the starting XI, they will have the added pressure of knowing that this Test match is an Ashes audition.

The likes of Joe Denly, Sam Curran and debutants Jason Roy and Oli Stone certainly fall into that category and for all Ireland might lack the skills and latent ability to beat England, they can always be relied upon to make up for their shortfalls with heart, desire and a strong team ethic.

Unsurprisingly, England are general 1/10 favourites to win the opening Test match of the English summer, with the visitors as big 28/1, but better opportunities lie elsewhere.

For Ireland, Middlesex seamer Murtagh is their standout performer with the ball and given his vast experience of bowling at Lord's, he should be able to make the Dukes ball talk against an under-pressure England top order.

Tim Murtagh

Murtagh was outstanding as Ireland pushed Pakistan close in Dublin last summer, picking up six wickets in the match and four in the first innings as he finished with figures of 25-5-45-4.

Despite his advancing years, Murtagh is in the midst of another fine county season, taking 33 wickets so far at an average of 17.27, and he could prove a real handful if Lord's offers any sort of assistance to this old style English-type seamer.

Murtagh certainly looks to have plenty going for him this week and at 10/3 (Sky Bet) to finish as Ireland's top first innings bowler, he looks worth a bet.

Nothing much appeals elsewhere but I can't resist a play on Chris Woakes for Man of the Match honours.

Woakes boasts a terrific record at Lord's and a fine record in England full stop. In 14 Test matches on home soil, the Warwickshire all-rounder has taken 54 wickets at an average of just 23.33, his pacey outswing well suited to the Dukes ball and the sporting wickets England have encountered over the last few years.

With Anderson absent, there is every chance Woakes will be given the chance to stake his Ashes claims with the new ball and on the back of his impressive World Cup performances, particularly in the latter stages of the tournament, he looks primed for a big showing.

His batting must not be underestimated either and it was on this very ground that he stroked his maiden Test century last summer, a sparkling unbeaten 137 against India that came when his side were under pressure with the bat.

Given England's well-publicised top-order struggles in the last 18 months, Woakes' ability lower down the line-up might well be needed to come to the fore again and I'm happy to take the 12/1 on offer about him producing another match-winning performance at The Home of Cricket.

Posted at 1400 BST on 23/07/19

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