2nd Test, Day Two, Lord’s.
Australia look strong favourites to level the Ashes series as they continue to dictate the second test at Lord’s.
After declaring on 566-8, the Aussie bowlers then demolished the top of the England batting order, to leave the hosts on 85-4 at the end of day two.
Steve Smith was the hero of the visitors innings- scoring 215 to become the third Australian to score 200-plus at the ‘Home of Cricket’.
After more than eight hours at the crease, facing 346 deliveries in the process, Smith engineered his sixth three figure total in his last eight tests, all of which have come during his first innings at the crease.
Had anyone before the match question his rank as second best in the world, they were silenced very quickly.
After breaking the record for the most runs in an Australian second wicket partnership at Lord’s, Smith’s batting partner Chris Rodgers fell for 173 to Stuart Broad, the only shining light of what was a very grey England bowling performance.
Broad took 4-82 in the end; with part time spinner Joe Root second best on the English bowling sheet with figures of 2-55.
If there was anything wrong with the Australian batting performance, it was the coming and going of captain Michael Clarke for just seven runs of 31 balls.
The batsman, whose batting record since the last Ashes series reads worse than Shane Watson, who was dropped for the second test, may want to move himself back down to number five in the order. His batting average at five is far better than his one at four.
After Australia declared, England faced the mammoth task of staging their own huge score to match their rivals- however it didn’t take long for the hopes of the nation to slowly crumble away.
Adam Lyth went for a two ball duck and not long after Gary Ballance was clean bowled by Mitchell Johnson. Ian Bell and Joe Root, who played so magnificently with the bat in Cardiff, both went for one as the weary hosts were left 30-4, with 19 overs still of the day to go.
Captain Alastair Cook and Ben Stokes saved England from any more embarrassment as they produced an unbeaten 55-run partnership to see the day out.
With fatigue kicking in, this will be a huge test for England to try and draw the test. One thing in their favour presumably is the weather, with heavy rain forecast for Sunday.
“There are no demons in the pitch but we had a ropey 20 minutes,” Broad told BBC Test Match Special.
“We’ve still got a chance to bat big. We have to apply ourselves. We’ve got 16 wickets to play with in this Test and if people get in and play to their game plan, they’re going to be hard to get rid of.”
The day though truly belonged to the Australians, who know a series draw would see them retain the Ashes. A win at Lord’s would mean a first test victory in England since 2001.
“England will be having a good night’s sleep and digging in,” Johnson told Sky Sports.
“Hopefully they’ll play that aggressive brand of cricket they’ve been talking about and we’ll see where that goes.”