England and Australia go to Lunch on the Second day of the Ashes 2009 test at Lords with honours relatively even after England were dismissed for 425 and the Australians lost two early wickets to come in with their 1st innings total at 22-2.
The cricketing gods must have paid a special visit to Lord’s cricket ground overnight and injected some much needed life into the pitch and surrounding atmosphere – as Andrew Strauss found out to his cost in the first over of the day when he was bowled by Hilfenhaus without adding to yesterday’s remarkable 161 tally.
The ball swung viciously, and, at that moment, it looked like the test match just might, too, towards an Australian victory.
That said, James Anderson has proved a tricky customer to get out in test cricket in recent years – not least last week when providing a cool head to block his way to an England draw, so it was perhaps no surprise when he and Onions produced the best ever last wicket stand at the home of cricket when putting on what could be a crucial 47 runs (beating the previous best of 45) after Broad (16) and Swann (4) had put on just 20 runs between them higher up the order.
Anderson’s wicket, though, did fall this time, after he pushed the ball to “Mr Cricket” Mike Hussey at gulley, with his score on a very respectable 29. Onions had contributed 17 runs not out – perhaps underlining his selection in favour of Monty Panesar who’s batting skills are severely lacking.
The signs were ominous, though the pitch looked livelier: Australia had skittled England out for a predictable 425 – 25 runs short of Andrew Strauss’s 450 target figure.
However, James Anderson, not content with his batting performance had his own ideas about which way he wanted the balance of power to swing in this test match and, within the hour’s play which remained before lunch, he had removed opener Hughes and Australian captain Ricky Ponting for 4 and 2 runs respectively: parity was restored.
Anderson had taken Hughes with one of those balls that was sneaking down the leg side and took the finest of nicks – one that any batsman would be particularly upset at chasing – before Prior caught and the whole team – and crowd – went up in appeal. The decision was easy. Out.
Ponting’s dismissal was less clear-cut, however, as the appeal was for either LBW or, if not, an edge down to Andrew Strauss who appeared to have caught the ball at first slip. The LBW was turned down, as the ball had been adjudged to hit a bit of bat first. The referral was then passed upstairs to see if the chance had carried to Strauss. The verdict? Out.
Ponting looked aggrieved, but walked as he must.
Anderson was ecstatic.
If England can produce more wickets this afternoon, they have a real chance on a pitch which is working for quicks like Anderson who can move the ball in the air. However, the Australian strength in depth is marked, and England must work hard to press home the advantage they have gained thus far.
We predicted the match would be clearer by lunch time. We were wrong. This match is finely balanced: honours are even though the momentum has currently shifted in England’s favour, it remains to be seen how well the Australian batting lineup responds to the English pressure.
If any of the Australian order gets themselves in, this game could once again shift to draw territory, however, with Australia sitting on 22-2, the England bowlers will scent victory.
Whether or not they have the ability to pull it off will depend much on the next two sessions in the field.