|England v Ireland, one-off Test|
|Venue: Lord’s Dates: 24-27 July Time: 11:00 BST|
|Coverage: Ball-by-ball Test Match Special commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, Radio 4 LW, online, tablets, mobiles and BBC Sport app. Live text commentary on the BBC Sport website.|
For one team an Ashes warm-up as they chase a second triumph of the summer – for the other a momentous match in a magical arena, and the big prize after a long battle for Test status.
Ireland come to Lord’s this week hoping for an unlikely victory in their first Test against England, but the significance of the game far outweighs the outcome.
It’s been a long and often frustrating journey for the Irish to secure the chance to play the longest form of the game.
We have to go back to 2006 and the appointment of Warren Deutrom as chief executive of Cricket Ireland – he started as one of just three employees and was indeed the only executive.
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Deutrom’s drive and ambition brought new possibilities for the sport on the island but, vitally, it coincided with a golden generation of Irish cricketers.
Ireland qualified for their first World Cup Cup in 2007 and the rest is history – a shock win over Pakistan on their tournament debut and then stunning England four years later in Bangalore.
Everything was clicking on and off the field but, when an application for Test status was made in 2012, it was considered a long shot.
Tough and exacting requirements were set to gain entry to what was viewed as an exclusive club of Test-playing nations.
However, Deutrom’s tenacity was rewarded in 2017 and Malahide hosted Ireland’s debut Test against Pakistan last year.
A first away five-dayer, with Afghanistan their opponents, was ticked off in March but after two defeats now comes a game which must have been pretty close to the top of Ireland’s bucket list when Test cricket came into view.
Lord’s is tradition, the long room, egg-and-bacon ties, the slope, picnics, the Nursery End and that unique hum – a sound of summer.
Whether through television or tuning in to Test Match Special with the legendary John Arlott and then ‘Blowers and Aggers’, it has enchanted cricket lovers throughout the world.
Irish connections to the hallowed ground in St John’s Wood start with the groundsman – Karl McDermott was recruited from Hampshire but comes from Dublin.
Deutrom may have split loyalties come Wednesday morning as the Englishman grew up supporting the national team and his beloved Middlesex at Lord’s.
It’s also familiar territory for Ireland’s big-hitting opener Paul Stirling and veteran seamer Tim Murtagh, who are both on the Middlesex staff.
And, of course, an Irishman led England to World Cup glory at Lord’s just over a week ago – would Dubliner Eoin Morgan have been playing in the thrilling final if Test cricket had been on offer in his native land as a youth?
Boyd Rankin was another to make the switch to England in search of a Test career, but the big paceman has returned for Ireland and he will spearhead their attack against England.
William Porterfield debuted for Ireland in 2006 and the captain is relishing leading the team down those famous Lord’s steps.
“Test match cricket is what we’ve dreamed about – to play at the home of cricket against England is a pretty special occasion,” he said.
“Warren’s been unbelievable and he’s pushed things forward – it was an ambitious plan but I think you’ve got to be ambitious and we are starting to reap the rewards now.
“There’s going to be a massive opportunity for future generations of cricketers in Ireland to perform on the big stage.
“We have to enjoy the occasion and take it in, because if you don’t you’ll look back in a few years and regret it.”