England bounce back to form on day two of second Ashes Test

England bounce back to form on day two of second Ashes Test

England fought back with bat and ball on day two at Lord’s to haul themselves back into the second Ashes Test.

The opening day at the home of cricket was arguably their flattest in over a year of Ben Stokes’ captaincy, with former skippers Kevin Pietersen and Michael Vaughan branding their efforts “absolutely shambolic” and “utter dross” respectively.

But they rallied impressively with the game on the line, as a much-improved seam attack shared five wickets for 77 to dismiss Australia for 416.

They could not prevent their old nemesis Steve Smith (110) from bringing up his 12th Ashes century, second only to the great Donald Bradman, but would have been relieved not to concede more from 316 for three on the first evening.

Ben Duckett’s unbeaten 62 led an encouraging response of 145 for one, with Ollie Pope reaching 32no despite concerns over the number three’s right shoulder injury.

Duckett had earlier shared a stand of 91 with Zak Crawley (48), England’s best opening partnership against Australia since January 2011.

One of the men involved that day, Sir Andrew Strauss, was in attendance as he led the annual ‘Red for Ruth’ day, raising over £270,000 in the process.

Sir Andrew Strauss, wearing red in support of the Ruth Strauss foundation, is applauded as he walks around the pitch at Lord's
Sir Andrew Strauss, wearing red in support of the Ruth Strauss foundation, is applauded as he walks around the pitch at Lord’s (Adam Davy/PA)

Starting with Australia in a strong position at 339 for five, England tossed the ball to their two oldest stagers, James Anderson and Stuart Broad. The pair sent down 33 wicketless overs between them on Wednesday but made good on Stokes’ faith.

Broad’s first two balls of the morning disappeared for four but he ended the over with a beauty, jagging one back into Alex Carey and flicking the front pad in front of the stumps. England need DRS to change umpire Ahsan Raza’s mind, but the end result was exactly what they needed.

Anderson picked up the baton at the Nursery End, angling the ball towards the cordon and drawing a thick edge from the newly arrived Mitchell Starc. Jonny Bairstow, 24 hours on from his starring role as a makeshift bouncer in the Just Stop Oil protest, leapt in front of first slip and held the catch.

Smith was watching calmly from the other end, making his way to 99 before lashing a cover drive to the ropes to bring up his latest Ashes ton.

Steve Smith celebrates his century
Steve Smith celebrates his century (Mike Egerton/PA)

It was an excellently judged innings, but England had the bit between their teeth and wrapped things up with admirable efficiency.

Josh Tongue, who dismissed Smith for Worcestershire earlier in the season, had the centurion well caught in the gully by Duckett as he swung hard and lost his balance and Ollie Robinson then swept up Nathan Lyon and Josh Hazlewood in successive overs.

That left England with four overs to bat before lunch and neither Duckett nor Crawley erred.

The Kent man seized the initiative in the afternoon, breezing to 48 at better than a run-a-ball. He drove crisply with the full face of the bat and used his long strides to punish anything over-pitched.

Zak Crawley is stumped by Australia wicketkeeper Alex Carey
Zak Crawley is stumped by Australia wicketkeeper Alex Carey (Adam Davy/PA)

Duckett continued his habit of refusing to leave anything, but looked in control of both attack and defence. The duo hit 75 runs in 13 overs before drinks, only for Crawley to gift his wicket after the short break.

He became the fourth English batter in three innings to be stumped dancing down the track at Lyon, with Carey collecting sharply down leg and whipping off the bails.

Pope emerged from the pavilion, easing the worst fears over his shoulder, and kept the tempo high as he and Duckett backed their positive instincts.

Hazlewood and Starc both went at more than seven-an-over as the ball travelled around the park, with the left-armer crunched through mid-wicket to bring up Duckett’s half-century in style.