Rookie seamer Josh Tongue struck twice in his first Ashes appearance, but the rest of the England attack drew a blank as Australia took control on day one of the second Test at Lord’s.
Tongue justified his return to the side as he bowled with pace and purpose at the home of cricket, clipping Usman Khawaja’s bails as he left the ball on the stroke of lunch and later ramming one through David Warner’s defences to remove him for 66.
But they were isolated moments of joy for the home side, who asked Australia to bat in awkward conditions only to see them post 190 for two at tea.
Steve Smith (38no) and Marnus Labuschagne (45no) were both ominously set at the break, having contributed just 35 in four innings in their side’s series-opening victory at Edgbaston.
Ben Stokes could hardly hide his grin after winning the toss, eagerly choosing to bowl on a pitch with a light covering of live grass and under thick grey clouds. When the floodlights came on just before the start of play, it seemed perfect bowling conditions for England’s five-man pace attack.
The game was interrupted after a solitary over when two Just Stop Oil protesters invaded the pitch brandishing orange paint powder, an incursion that ended with wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow lifting one of the activists off his feet and carrying him off the pitch while Stokes shepherded the other into the arms of security.
Warner and Khawaja did not allow the break to disrupt their concentration, although the latter offered a low half-chance off Stuart Broad in the hint of an early strike for England.
The bowling looked laboured at times, with Ollie Robinson struggling to crack 80mph, but Broad should have picked up Warner on 20 when Ollie Pope put down a regulation edge at fourth slip, an echo of missed opportunities in the first Test.
Having survived the initial skirmishes, Warner sought to impose himself, bending the knee to sweep both Broad and Robinson.
Tongue took five wickets against Ireland on Test debut earlier this month but appeared to suffer some early stage fright as his first three overs were taken for 24 – including a hooked six from Warner.
But he rallied to give England a badly-needed success in the final over of the morning. Khawaja, player of the match last time out, offered no shot to one that came in down the slope and paid with his wicket to leave Australia 73 for one.
Tongue went one better in his first spell of the afternoon, bowling a deliciously difficult over to Warner before spearing one between bat and pad as the batter was cut in two.
England would have sensed an opportunity with Smith and Labuschagne both new to the crease, but the former began busily to reverse the pressure with some confident shots.
Labuschagne was shakier to start but a sequence of five boundaries from eight legal deliveries off Broad and Stokes set him up nicely.
Broad had both men given out amid a flurry of run-scoring, but a caught behind off Smith and an lbw against Labuschagne were both reversed on DRS.