London: Australia preyed on England’s determination to stick to aggressive ‘Bazball’ cricket as several batsmen fell into a hooking trap during the second Test at Lord’s on Thursday.
England, enjoying the best batting conditions of the match, were well placed at 188-1 in reply to Australia’s first innings 416, with the visitors’ spin bowler, Nathan Lyon, off the field with a calf injury.
But England slumped to 222-4 as Australia bowled bouncers with as many as four men deep on the legside - a tactic that could scarcely have been more obvious had it been signalled in neon lights.
However, at stumps on the second day they had recovered to 278-4 following an unbroken stand of 56 between Harry Brook (45 not out) and captain Ben Stokes (17 not out).
The pair had come together after England lost three wickets for 34 runs.
England vice-captain Ollie Pope holed out off towering all-rounder Cameron Green after a brisk 42.
Ben Duckett had batted superbly to move to within sight of a maiden Ashes hundred.
But having had a few near misses with risky hooks, the left-handed opener fell for 98 when he pulled Josh Hazlewood straight to David Warner.
Root gets a reprieve
Joe Root, the world’s top-ranked Test batsman, could have been out caught behind on one when gloving a hook off Green, only to be reprieved by a no-ball.
But he fell for 10 when suckered into pulling a short ball from express quick Mitchell Starc, with Steve Smith taking a low running catch.
Smith had earlier returned to form with a well-made hundred after managing just 22 runs in two innings during Australia’s thrilling two-wicket win in the first Test at Edgbaston.
His 110 was the 32nd Test century of the 34-year-old’s brilliant career, his 12th in the Ashes and eighth in England.
England, however, recovered well on Thursday by taking Australia’s last five wickets for the addition of 77 runs.
Most successful quicks
Veteran pacemen James Anderson and Stuart Broad, the two most successful quicks in Test history, managed just two wickets between them.
Instead, it was their fellow frontline seamers who did the bulk of the damage, with Josh Tongue taking 3-98 on his Ashes debut and Ollie Robinson 3-100.
Off-spinner Nathan Lyon, appearing in his 100th consecutive Test, moved to within four wickets of 500 in Tests when he had Zak Crawley stumped for a run-a-ball 48 to leave England 91-1.
But he later limped off the field after trying to catch Pope.
Australia had resumed well-placed on 339-5, with Smith 85 not out, just 15 runs shy of his second Test century at Lord’s following a superb 215 eight years ago.
England failed to make the most of helpful conditions for their quicks after Stokes won the toss on Wednesday.
And there were more worrying signs when Stuart Broad speared his first two balls down the legside, Alex Carey glancing both deliveries for comfortable fours.
But Broad, regaining his accuracy, had Carey lbw on review for 22.
Smith went to 99 with a fortunate nick to third man for four off Anderson, who then almost beat the batsman’s defence with an excellent yorker.
Off the very next ball, Smith drove Anderson through the covers to complete a 169-ball century with his 14th four.
Smith fell soon afterwards when a booming drive off Tongue was superbly caught by a diving Duckett in the gully.