It's not often that England put themselves in a position to win a test match at Lords, with their record in recent years being poor. Australia have a good record at Lords, having not lost at Lord's since 1934 when Yorkshire left-arm spinner Hedley Verity dismissed Don Bradman cheaply in both innings in a match haul of 15 wickets. So putting those two instance's together, its surprising that England after two days are sitting pretty in this match. Australia can only blame themselves, with their batsman playing several key shots during a middle order batting collapse.
At the end of the first day with England's score 364/6, both England and Australia would have hoped for a good start. England with the centurion Strauss in at the wicket looking for a chance of a double century, would have at least wanted around 430. That total England got but it could have been a lot less. Barley two over’s into the day and England had lost three wickets with only Jimmy Anderson and Graham Onions left.
Ponting couldn't have dreamed of a better start but again his team were frustrated by a second last-wicket partnership within a week. Unlike the one at Lords where Anderson and Panesar's aim was to not get out, this time round Onions and Anderson played their shots and put on 47 for the last wicket in less than 10 over’s. Not only was it frustrating but it changed the momentum England's way.
England's bowlers now with the confidence of seeing the ball swing (as Hilfenhaus did to get rid of Strauss) now had an extra step in their stride and immediately got two breakthroughs. First gone was Phillip Hughes whom is obviously someone who England know has a weakness at the moment with the hook. It was no surprise to see Anderson use the short ball early againgst him. The opener will no doubt be angry at himself for his poor shot selection, but im sure he'll atone for it some point in this series.
In came Ricky Ponting, who made only two before missing an Anderson delievery playing a shot to midwicket. Ponting was caught by Strauss whilst Anderson was appealing for lbw. Although Ponting didn't hit the ball, he looked out lbw so although Ponting wasn't pleased with the decision either way he was out.
At this stage Katich and Hussey put together 93 seemingly dragging Australia back into position in the match. Then Katich gave his wicket away after a plan from Strauss worked giving Onions a deserved wicket. Hussey as we know left a ball from Flintoff that hit his off stump and suddenly Australia were 111-4. Michael Clarke then fell to a another trap by Strauss with Cook in prime position at mid wicket of Anderson. Next to fall was Marcus North who pulled Anderson onto his stumps.
The worst wickets were to come when Stuart Broad used that good short-ball of his to dismiss Michael Johnson and Brad Haddin. Haddin really had no excuse, with play seemingly only an over or two away from ending (due to bad light) his mistimed hook was feeble to say the least.
Australia it seems will need a huge recovery to draw this game. It can be done though, South Africa proved last year against England at Lords with a 346 first innings deficit that if you bat sensibly and bat time the match can be saved. However South Africa started their second innings late on the third day, Australia should be starting theirs early on the third day. Never the less second time around it will be harder for England to bowl the Aussie's out. More Importantly an England lead in the Ashes looks likely, something that with England 70-5 on the final day of the Cardiff test would have seemed a million miles away. That's the sheer beauty of Test Cricket for you.