x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Fiery England on top at Lord's

James Anderson stars with bat and ball to put England firmly on top in the second Test against Australia at Lord's.

England's pace battery made amends for their lame display in Cardiff to deliver a hostile performance and establish a dominant position in the second Ashes Test. Unable to make much of an impact on a slow first-Test surface, on which they claimed only six Australian wickets throughout the match, England's seamers were under pressure to make a vast improvement on a Lord's wicket with greater bounce and pace. Presented with conditions more suited to their strengths, England responded to leave Australia reeling on 156 for eight, still trailing by 269 runs and 70 away from saving the follow on at a ground where they have not lost an Ashes Test since 1934. Led by James Anderson, whose mastery of swing caused Australia constant problems, and backed up by the hostility of Andrew Flintoff, Stuart Broad and Graham Onions, England looked a totally different side to the one who struggled to claim every wicket in Cardiff last week. Given a flying start by the Lancashire seamer Anderson, who claimed two early wickets and finished with an impressive four for 36, Australia struggled to escape the constant probing by England's attack to lose six for 49 in 16 overs after tea. Now established as the leader of England's attack, Anderson gained inspiration from another stubborn last-wicket stand to claim his best bowling figures against Australia and began their slide with two wickets inside the first seven overs of their reply. The dangerous opener Phillip Hughes became Anderson's first victim when he gloved a short ball down the leg-side to wicketkeeper Matt Prior. The tourists' captain Ricky Ponting was more unfortunate after being given out caught at slip with the umpire Rudi Koertzen believing captain Andrew Strauss had taken a catch off an inside edge which looped off his pads. Having referred to the third official Nigel Llong in an attempt to clarify the incident, Koertzen upheld the appeal although replays suggested the ball missed Ponting's bat but should have secured his dismissal via lbw. The opener Simon Katich and Michael Hussey used several interruptions for rain during the afternoon session to regroup and for a while England lacked inspiration while they forged a determined 93-run partnership. But the decision to turn to the all-rounder Flintoff, who has consistently been the quickest bowler in the match, after tea proved crucial to England's turnaround and their bullying of Australia's top order. Katich had battled for over two hours to reach just two runs short of his half-century, but became the first of several batsmen to fall to the short ball when he pulled Onions into the deep and was superbly caught by Broad diving in the outfield. At the other end Flintoff was consistently bowling in excess of 90mph, which surprised Hussey into shouldering arms to a full-length ball which clipped his off-stump and provided a reward for a fast and intimidating six-over spell from the Pavillion End.

Recalled to the attack from the other end, Anderson struck again just three balls later, and to a superbly conceived plan, when Michael Clarke drove a full-length ball straight to short midwicket. Anderson then induced Marcus North into getting a bottom edge onto his stumps with an ill-judged pull. Both Brad Haddin and Mitchell Johnson also fell attempting to take on Broad's short ball, only picking out Alastair Cook's safe hands in the deep, as Australia lost six wickets in just 94 balls to look vulnerable for the first time in the series until bad light halted their slump. England's impressive display was in stark contrast to the manner in which they began the second morning on 364 for six, hoping to reach their captain Strauss' expectations of posting a first-innings score of around 450.

It was Australia's attack who enjoyed the early success, exploiting seamer-friendly conditions to claim three wickets for 14 runs in only 19 balls, including Strauss to the second ball of the day when he shouldered arms to a Ben Hilfenhaus inswinger which crashed into his off-stump. Graeme Swann fell in the next over. Intimidated by the working over he was given in Cardiff by a series of short-pitched deliveries by Siddle, he edged low to second slip perhaps fearing another bouncer barrage. Broad edged Hilfenhaus onto his own stumps to continue England's demise only for Anderson, who defied Australia for 40 minutes with Monty Panesar to save the opening Test, to embark on another crucial last-wicket partnership. Teaming up with Onions this time, Anderson dominated a 47-run stand off 53 balls which was helped considerably by the aggressive Siddle being forced off the field with an illness. An out-of-form Johnson was therefore called upon and was hit for boundaries off the back foot through extra cover by Anderson until Australia's left-arm seamer finally had him caught in the gully. But by then the momentum was with England and, in particular, Anderson, and his two early breakthroughs provided the impetus to leave Australia struggling to defend their proud unbeaten Lord's record. * PA Sport