Australia’s 75-year unbeaten record at Lord’s is facing its greatest threat, after England’s seamers scythed through the tourists’ top- and middler-orders on a rain-interrupted second day at Lord’s. James Anderson and Andrew Flintoff bowled with a measure of pace, movement and accuracy that eluded Mitchell Johnson and Peter Siddle in the preceding innings, and placed England in a position of dominance with Australia still requiring 70 runs to avoid the follow-on.
Anderson turned in a performance befitting his recently-acquired mantle of England spearhead, maintaining a threatening line and swinging the ball just enough to create angst among the opposing batsmen. With Flintoff conceding runs at barely two-per-over at the other end, and Stuart Broad and Graham Onions constantly probing the outside edge, England created a pressurised atmosphere in which the Australians spectacularly cracked. The tourists lost six wickets for the addition of just 49 runs after tea, and must now hope for more of the rain periods that interrupted the second day’s play if they are to emerge from this match unscathed.
No less than six Australian batsmen fell to misjudged pull-strokes, indicating that the situation, rather than unplayable deliveries, brought about their demise. The early loss of Ricky Ponting to an incorrect decision by Rudi Koertzen, officiating in his 100th Test, did not help their cause, but too many of his team-mates sought to bash their way out of trouble; a tactic that, against a ruthless England attack in heavy overhead conditions, appeared flawed from the start.Only now, with Flintoff entering the home straight of his Test career, have he and Anderson become the combination England had long hoped for. Both dazzled under the floodlights, switched on for the first time in a Lord’s Test match, against an Australian batting line-up forced to carry the cross of their profligate bowlers from the previous day, and under pressure from the moment they marked centre.
Fortune played a role in Anderson’s first two dismissals, with Phillip Hughes strangling a delivery to Matt Prior down the leg-side and Ponting adjudged caught to a ball he missed by some margin. Playing across a sharp, slanting delivery, Ponting struck the instep of his shoe as the ball threaded the gap between bat and pad and lobbed to Andrew Strauss at first slip. Koertzen asked the third umpire, Nigel Llong, whether the ball had carried to Strauss, and subsequently ruled him out for two, continuing Ponting’s unhappy association with Lord’s where he has scored just 71 runs at 14.20.England made their own luck thereafter. An obstinate, attritional 93-run stand between Simon Katich and Michael Hussey temporarily drew Australia back into the contest, but with England’s bowlers maintaining disciplined lines and the rain clouds closing in, the odds of a momentum-shifting stand was always stacked against them. So it was that Katich, the most measured of Australia’s batsmen to that point, swiped at an Onions delivery and was caught by a running, diving Broad at fine leg. The dismissal was a carbon copy of that which led to Katich’s demise in Worcester, and represents a triumph of England planning.
Hussey, having compiled a confidence-boosting 51, followed three overs later in the most frustrating of circumstances. Shouldering arms to a straightening Flintoff delivery, Hussey watched forlornly as the ball dislodged the off-bail in a dismissal that sent Australia’s survival prospects plummeting. England sensed the kill with two new batsmen at the crease, and it wasn’t long before Anderson had accounted for Michael Clarke and Marcus North – both dismissed attempting to force the pace of the innings. Broad continued the rout with the wickets of Johnson and Brad Haddin to loose pull-shots, reducing Australia to 156 for eight before bad light stopped play at 6.23pm.In keeping with the theme of the match, Australia will resume on Saturday with a pair of batsmen afflicted by injury and illness. Nathan Hauritz dislocated a finger on Friday while Siddle vomited on the field before seeking medical treatment in the first session on Saturday. A bleak picture for the tourists.
Earlier, Ben Hilfenhaus temporarily lifted Australian spirits with two quick wickets that went far to rounding out England’s first innings for 425. Hilfenhaus claimed the vital scalp of Andrew Strauss with his second ball of the morning, then followed with that of Broad, as the hosts lost their final four wickets for 61 before the first drinks break.As was the case in Cardiff, England’s 10th wicket partnership proved problematic for the Australians, as Anderson and Onions added 47 valuable runs. With Siddle taken from the field with illness – effectively reducing Ponting to just two frontline bowling options – England’s tailenders took the attack to the out-of-sorts Johnson. He eventually claimed the wicket of Anderson for 29, but not before his figures had swollen to 3-132 from 21.4 overs.