Where the first saw England emerge as victors amidst several swirling controversial elements, the opening day of the second Test at Lord’s was all about the Aussies trying to prove a point about stiff resistances. Quite an eventful day too it turned out in the end, with the Queen regally gracing the start of the day’s proceedings and Steve Waugh ringing the proverbial bell.
Winning the toss and electing to bat first, England found themselves in a spot of bother after losing three quick wickets leaving them in an unexpected lurch. The task then fell to Jonathon Trott and Ian Bell to stabilise the English innings even as Michael Clarke roused up his bowling attack brilliantly to put the English batsmen continually on the defence and on the back-foot.
It didn’t help matters then that Jonathan Trott too lost his wicket mid-way once again leaving England stranded just as they had started to look up in the game. Before the start of the match, both teams came up with few significant changes to the squad with Australia’s pointed dropping of Ed Cowan and Mitchell Starc more glaring than Steven Finn’s sidestepping by their English counterparts. While the English bowling order is yet to be tested, the Aussies’ decision to include 34-year old Ryan Harris in the playing XI reaped rich rewards as he mixed, mashed and made the English batsmen dance to his tunes on the field.
But as bemused as they were with the way the Aussie bowlers were shaping up to the task at hand, England did well to marshal themselves back into the game yet again. Ian Bell and Jonny Bairstow led from the front and carried England past 250 runs with a fifth-wicket stand of 144-runs. Bell recorded his second century of the series, equalling his highest total (109) at the ground while Bairstow provided a perfect complement with a bracing half century.
The introduction of part-timer Steven Smith however brought things to a head – for both the Aussies and England – as he dismantled what was left of the English batting order, snapping the wickets of Bell, Bairstow and Prior in a rapid-fire manner. Smith’s heroics reduced England for 289-runs at the loss of seven wickets with James Anderson and Tim Bresnan trying to shore up the England batting efforts to a respectful and defendable total.
Prior to the start of the match, the Australian team seemed to be reeling under a newer onslaught of controversy as sacked, former coach Mickey Arthur dredged up the presence of bad blood between captain Michael Clarke and Shane Watson. Though the issue was shrugged aside by the Australian team as nothing out of the ordinary, Arthur’s allegations left a really bad aftertaste considering that the Australians had almost succeeded in putting their past derailments behind them.
Looking at Australia’s resurgence in the second Test so far, it seems as though newly appointed coach Darren Lehmann who would be enjoying a last laugh. In spite of their loss in the opening Test, none can deny that the Australians came too close for the Englishmen’s comfort. Who knows, with the way the Australians are shaping up now, they might even end up winning the second Test to go on par with the hosts. That however remains a tale for another day.