After Australia had put the brakes on two nervous English batsmen in the afternoon session, Matt Prior’s quickfire 61 helped England take charge of the second Ashes 2009 test at Lords.
Play closed with England 521 ahead of Australia on 311 for 6.
Strauss and Cook had got England off to a quick start after the England captain opted not to enforce the follow-on his bowlers had worked hard to secure.
Things looked to be going exactly according to plan at lunch, however, both Cook (LBW, 32) and Strauss (caught Clarke, also 32) were dismissed at the injured hands of off spinner Hauritz.
Bopara, shaky as ever, and Kevin Pietersen, rode their luck until tea time, however, this included a long period where England scored just 1.5 runs per over.
After tea, however, with Bopara (27) and Pietersen (44) dismissed, Collingwood (54) Prior (61) and Flintoff (30 not out) came in for a little 20Twenty style cricket.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man, as Freddie Flintoff showed why he will be concentrating on the shortened format after this Ashes series climaxes by scoring his 30 runs from just 27 balls. Just what the captain must have asked for at tea.
The England lead extended to 500 and beyond before rain stopped what was becoming an exciting evening’s play.
England will likely declare early in the morning, though they may well let Andrew Flintoff try for a final fifty in his last ever Lord’s test match, though they won’t give him more than four or five overs in which to achieve it.
This total may be difficult for Australia to achieve, indeed, they’d have to break some records to win, and a draw is difficult, if not impossible, without any rain delays. If England do fail to win this match, many will look at the decision to come out to bat today.
Tomorrow’s task is simple for the two sides: Australia must bat for two days; England must take ten wickets in that period.
Australian eyes will be looking up, but any rain in the atmosphere might also be their downfall as the ball starts to swing when dampness is in the air.
Despite England’s huge lead, this test match has plenty of fascinating mileage left in it.