If they selected a “Man of the Day” in test matches, there would be only one contender for the second day of the Lord’s test match between England and Australia in Ashes 2009: James Anderson.
Anderson claimed 4 wickets for just 36 runs with the ball as well as contributing an important 29 runs in an impressive record-breaking last wicket stand.
England posted a total of 425 all out before lunch, which felt like an underachievement given the benign conditions yesterday, however, England’s bowlers really got out of the blocks this time and had a struggling Australia 8 wickets down for just 156 runs when play was suspended for bad light after a rain interrupted afternoon.
This was one of the best days of cricket England have seen in a long time against Australia and, as is fitting for London, the wickets, like red buses, came in clusters.
However, as is customary for a cricket match featuring England, the momentum of this match switched more than once. The signs were ominous early on: Andrew Strauss took to the crease this morning on 161, and was keen to add to that tally. Hilfenhaus, on his second delivery, produced a ball that swung and seamed back into the England captain – Straus went for a leave – the ball hit his off stump. Bowled.
After a brief interlude from Swann, who contributed one beautiful boundary during his short time at the middle, it was Mr Anderson’s cue to produce yet more with the bat to add to his potentially series saving, draw achieving, innings at Cardiff last week.
Broad, sensing that time was running out for England to get a decent total, had begun to hit out a little – with some successful cover drives – until he played round one and was bowled by Hilfenhaus.
Anderson was joined by Onions and the two proceeded to show others who’d been and gone before them how its done, adding a Lord’s record last wicket stand of 47 before Anderson was eventually caught at Gulley by Hussey on a credit-worthy 29. Onions had scored 17 runs not out, surely doing his place in the team no harm at all in the process.
England’s score of 425 would have disappointed Strauss at the beginning of the day, however, given the increase in movement on day two, and the fact that, but for Messers Anderson and Onions, things could have been much, much worse (nearly 50 runs worse!), this looked a reasonable total.
Of course, the same was true of last week’s first innings score, so it would have been a great delight to all in the England camp when James Anderson had accounted for two top order batsmen for just 10 runs and the teams came in for lunch with the tourist’s score at 22 for 2.
After Anderson had put out the opener, Hughes, who was caught behind swiping at an innocuous looking ball heading down the leg side, he then took the wicket of the captain, Ponting.
Ponting’s wicket was a strange one, however, as the ball struck the player on the pad before being caught on the full by Andrew Strauss. Shouts went up from all concerned. LBW? Not out. But, the umpire had decided this was for an inside edge and, providing Strauss had caught cleanly, Ponting would be out. After a brief consultation, the finger was raised. Ricky Ponting’s face said it all: he was livid, but walked from the field without uttering what was surely on his mind – he knew he had not edged the ball.
That said, Ponting was LBW, so effectively was out either way, though that thought is unlikely to ease the Australian captain’s mind.
Following their captain’s dismissal, Hussey and Katich steadied the ship and looked like they might put on a larger partnership than the 93 they ultimately achieved before Broad took a fantastic diving catch off the bowling of Onions to see off Katich.
That wicket would signal the start of Australia’s troubles as Hussey followed him into the pavillion just 8 runs later trying to leave a ball from Flintoff – who had worked up to a frightening speed with the scent of Ashes victory in his nostrils – which held it’s line and clipped a bail. Clean bowled. The score? 111, of course.
1 more wicket fell on Nelson’s score – Anderson accounting for Michael Clarke for 1 run after excellent field placement saw him hit the ball straight to Alistair Cook at short midwicket.
The wickets of North, Mitchell Johnson and wicketkeeper Brad Haddin followed for the addition of just 31 runs as England really hammered home their advantage – Broad picking up the latter two, both caught by Cook.
Hauritz and Siddle will be looking to continue their partnership for some time tomorrow, though neither would expect to be around for long if the impressive display on a lively pitch of today’s England returns to the field tomorrow.
James Anderson reported that the team had discussed the follow on and that, were it to be available, whether or not it is enforced will depend upon the conditions: “If it is cloudy again, and the ball is swinging, we’ll most likely put [the Australians] back in. If the sun is out, we’ll bat.” the England pace-man told Mark Nicholas of Channel 5 television.
Anderson was pretty happy with how the day had gone, though you can bet he’ll be keen to get one more wicket for a famous five wicket haul at the home of cricket tomorrow. If he, and Flintoff, who were the pick of England’s bowlers, can continue today’s pressure, it is difficult to see the remaining two Australian wickets staying intact for more than an hour or two.
Australia take to the field tomorrow morning requiring 74 runs to avoid the follow-on – that, surely, is their task for the day.
On the third day, it may be the Australians who are looking to the sky at Lord’s and praying for rain.