It took an age, but, after a change of bowlers which brought Onions into the England attack, they had soon accounted for Hauritz (24) and Siddle (35) eventually dismissing Australia for 215, ensuring that they had the option of putting Australia back in to bat.
The England captain, Andrew Strauss, and his men had clearly seen an opportunity for runs in this wicket, and decided against enforcing the follow-on in a controversial decision.
As lunch was called, England had added 57 runs to their first innings score of 425, without loss, adding to their advantage of 210.
Australia trail by 267 runs at the half-way point of the second test match at Lord’s.
England are batting on a flat track once more, with ten wickets in hand.
Andrew Strauss, and Alistair Cook, without a great deal of pressure on them are currently playing with freedom and, contrary to normal Australian cricket, the tourist’s bowlers are failing to find much rhythm or put the hosts under any pressure at all. In particular, Mitchell Johnson is slinging balls all over the place and looks bereft of confidence: he has been expensive and one wonders just how long Ricky Ponting will persist with his first choice quick.
England will hope to amass a large lead of 500+ as soon as possible then put the Australians in with around two days remaining. The Australians will be hoping to take wickets, and quickly, or for a particularly bad spell of weather. This match is still in the balance, however, England have little pressure on them as a score of just 200 all out would set a massive fourth innings chase for their opponents: with ten wickets in hand, they should achieve at least that in a short time, particularly if the Australian front line of bowling attack continues it’s current inconsistent approach.
If the Australian side can skittle England out, however, much will be made of England’s decision not to enforce the follow on which, it must be said, has raised eyebrows around MCC.
England have put themselves in position to win this match and, if things go to plan, they should – though many might argue the longer you have to get Australian wickets, the better. If this match finishes as a draw or worse, there will be questions raised over this decision for years to come. That said, it is a nice day to bat – as the Australian tail proved – and any cloud cover, which might arrive tomorrow, would make the ball move more than it is today, so perhaps Strauss & Co’s decision was the sensible option: had he enforced a follow on and Australia knocked off 200 without loss, they’d be staring down the barrel of a very different game.
If the two openers can continue their current excellent run rate and England bat on without loss, they’ll be out of reach relatively soon – a conservative option, perhaps, but one which could see England winning comfortably given the right conditions. The draw is the first result to aim for in a five match series, before thoughts of winning can be entertained, though the English team must be feeling confident that there is a win in this match for them if they can repeat their first innings pressure when required in the field on Sunday.
At present, the Australians are not helping their cause with many wayward deliveries which Strauss and Cook are picking off at leisure. England will be happy if this trend continues for the rest of this third day.
How Ponting would love a Glenn McGrath to toss the ball to right now.