Ashes 2nd Test, England vs Australia Day 1

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Ashes 2009 2nd Test Lords 16th July – 20th July.

Day One – England 364 for 6

andrew-strauss1Since 1896 Australia’s Test record against England at Lords reads played 27, won 13, drawn 13, lost 1. That loss coming as far back as 1934. So it would be fair to suggest that the Australians would have arrived in St John’s Wood this morning as favourites, but would England be galvanised by Andrew Flintoff’s resignation, or distracted by the hype as Ricky Ponting hopes.

Early team news was that, as expected, Panesar makes way for a quick man. Onions getting the nod ahead of Harmison as Flintoff is passed fit to play. Ricky Ponting, who named an unchanged team, lost the toss and England will bat on a bright but cloudy morning in North West London.

Hilfenhaus and Johnston shared the new ball, Hilfenhaus with the first over of the day from the Nursery End and Johnston, obviously then, from the Pavilion End. Johnston’s woes continued from the Cardiff Test, removed from the attack after bowling just four overs as England reached 39-0 after 9 overs. Johnston (0-26) replaced by Siddle.

The first hours play was a good one for England. Johnston out of the attack early, 57 runs on the board and Ponting complaining already, this time about the shape of the ball. The umpires weren’t having it though. Cook was first to fifty, in the 22nd over from 73 balls and England’s hundred was brought up courtesy of a bye off keeper Haddin’s pads in the 25th over of the morning.

126 for no loss at lunch England, a fantastic morning’s work from the opening pair who were opening the innings together for the 57th time today, the most by any English pairing. Alastair Cook went to lunch on 67 not out and Andrew Strauss was just three short of his half century on 47 not out. Australia’s bowling was poor, Johnston in particular will be a concern for Ponting, and both batsmen cashed in. Fantastic stuff.

Strauss joined Cook on fifty shortly after lunch, his half century coming up of 104 balls in the 34th over. The first real excitement of the day came midway through the 39th over, Cook advanced down the pitch and drove hard back at the bowler Hauritz who got a hand to it but succeeded only in having his middle finger bent backward so badly he had to leave the field in real pain, Marcus North finished the over, England beyond 150 by now. New from the Australian dressing room an hour after lunch was that Hauritz’s finger is not broken so that was good news, less good news was that Mitchell Johnston continued to bowl like a drain. 8 from his first over after lunch leaving him 9-0-61-0 at drinks.

Well, who’d have thought it, first Johnston over after drinks and he of all people gets Cook to claim his 100th Test wicket. Cook just five short of a century, the ball kept a little low and trapped him straight in front. Bad luck, England 196-1 and in came Bopara. Nineteen balls later back Bopara went as double Nelson struck Another LBW, again dead in front, this time from the bowling if Hilfenhaus who had easily been the pick of Australia’s bowler thus far. Bopara gone for 18, Hilfenhaus 16-9-38-1, England 222-2 and Richie Benaud impersonators around the World were in raptures. Strauss was still there on 90 and time for Pietersen…

And he didn’t disappoint, giving the spectators collective heart failure in the two overs prior to tea, racing down the track to smash the spinner, North, over mid on for four, then very nearly getting himself out handled ball and then very, very nearly being caught by Haddin from a top edge off a one handed pull shot. Scary stuff, finally a single got him off strike which led to…

Hundred for Strauss! Two balls before the tea interval he cut Hilfenhaus behind point for 3 runs to register his fourth Test hundred at Lords, his eighteenth in total and his third against Australia. England 255-2 at tea and the captain exactly 100 not out. Well played Sir.

Fourth over after tea guess who got out? Yep Pietersen. At least this time he wasn’t doing something stupid. A “fair dinkum”, as the bowler Peter Siddle might have said, outside edge. Terrific ball that committed KP to the shot and moved away just enough to square him up and catch the bat on its way through behind to Haddin. Pietersen 32 and England 267-3. More action came in Siddle’s next over when Strauss slashed hard to gulley and a diving Hussey put him down. It was a tough chance but you’d back these Aussies to take them and to add salt to the wound the ball carried on for 4. Siddle by this stage had cranked it up to a consistent speed of 90mph+ and was looking dangerous.

England reached 300 in the 76th over of the day when Johnston came back into the attack for another burst. 1-77 from 11 overs up until this point so not his best day it’s safe to say.  Just one run off the bat and two leg byes came from this comeback over, and there was even a spot of swing.

Next over, Collingwood thought he was Pietersen and danced down to Clarke and played a horrible shot straight to mid on. Strauss was furious at the non strikers end, and rightly so. What on earth was that all about? England 4 down now, 302 on the board, and the new ball was only 3 and a half overs away. Prior would need to stay at the crease until close or Australia would be right back in the game.

But he couldn’t. In the last over before the new ball was due the worst bowler on display so far, Johnston, found an absolute beauty to swing in and bowl him off stump. England 5 down for 317 and suddenly Australia were two quick wickets away from being in charge of the game. Flintoff in next. Ricky Ponting didn’t take the new ball straight away, having seen the ball swing in the last over he wanted to see if there was some reverse there for his bowlers before deciding what to do.

And that was the right decision, 2 overs and 3 deliveries after the new ball was due the old ball swung away from Flintoff, took the edge and flew to a delighted Australian skipper at 2nd slip. Having succumbed to double Nelson earlier in the day triple Nelson struck now, England 333-6 with Flintoff gone caught Ponting bowled Hilfenhaus for 4. Stuart Broad to the crease

Having got the breakthrough Ricky Ponting took the new ball with 5 overs left in the day and continued with Johnston who conceded 9 runs from his over, and Hilfenhaus who goes for 6 runs, in the over where Strauss brought up his 150. Great knock, the captain leading from the front in the face of a jittery final session for England’s batsmen.

Strauss and Broad made it through to stumps with no alarms, Strauss passing 5000 Test runs in the process. The score of 364 -6 at close represented a really good day for England, tarnished only by the loss of perhaps 2 wickets more than they would have liked. Collingwood gifted his wicket, but the others were undone by decent balls so shouldn’t be too despondent. Strauss the captain 161* overnight will look to push onto 450+ tomorrow, a score that looks more tricky now than it perhaps might have given the state of the match at tea, but let’s face it, it’s not often the Australians lose all 3 sessions in a day. Well played England, well done Alastair Cook and very well done Andrew Strauss. For the tourists Hilfenhaus was the pick of the crop, finishing with figures of 25-10-77-2, his figures ruined slightly by some loose stuff in the last half hour of the day. Johnston had a horrible day going at more than 6 an over for most of it, but picked up 2 wickets. Siddle looked menacing but was without luck. Honours probably just about even, England perhaps still edging it. It will be an absolutely crucial first hour tomorrow morning.

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