Strauss disallows Aussies the advantage
by CricketArchive Staff Reporter

Scorecard:England v Australia
Player:AJ Strauss, AN Cook, PD Collingwood, A Flintoff, BW Hilfenhaus, MG Johnson, NM Hauritz
Event:Australia in British Isles 2009

DateLine: 16th July 2009


It was another one of those brilliant days of Test cricket that Ashes in England always promises. Never even once for the first two sessions did it look like Australia had any chance to claw their way back into the game. Their bowling looked awful and nothing looked inspiring for a lot that looked overawed by the occasion.


England openers did take total advantage of an ill-disciplined bowling attack. The English dominated the first two sessions after which the Aussies clawed their way back like champions. Suddenly the ball looked to talk a little in the air and off the pitch and Australian seamers Mitchell Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus did just enough for the English batsmen to make grave mistakes.


At the end of the day, England would be a little disappointed considering the position they were in once and the good batting pitch on offer. Skipper Andrew Strauss though did his level best scoring 161 and his presence in the middle is what would be comforting the English think tank since they and the Aussies very well know the power of the English tail after the drawn Cardiff Test.


Earlier, Andrew Strauss won the toss and using his local knowledge about the conditions and pitch, opted to bat first on a well-grassed Lord's strip. The only change in the English playing eleven was the replacement of Monty Panesar by Graham Onions while Steve Harmison failed to make the cut.


Both openers Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook in the entire first session looked totally dominating the tourist bowling attack. Mitchell Johnson who came in England with a huge reputation of being one of the best bowlers in the longer format of the game was opened up badly, first by Strauss and then by Cook. Whether he was overawed by the occasion or was he just getting a little hyper over his arguments with the English openers, it was his side which was facing the brunt. The left-arm seamer went for 53 runs in the eight overs he bowled in the first session and these runs included 11 hits to the fence.


The only bowler who looked to be closer to the business area was Ben Hilfenhaus. He delivered three consecutive maidens to start the game but any pressure that the right-armer created at his end was promptly released by Johnson from the other.


With Ricky Ponting running out of options, he brought on Peter Siddle but that hardly created an impact since the bowler who looked very good at Cardiff could not understand his captain's field setting this time around. Time and again Ponting gave him a 7-2 field setting on the off-side but the right-armer at least bowled a couple of loose ones on the vacant leg-side region that were carted for runs.


The wayward bowling lifted the openers confidence and post the first drinks break of the game, Cook enthralled the capacity crowd by pulling, cutting and driving each loose delivery bowled by the Aussie bowlers. He raised his half-century from just 73 deliveries and alongside Strauss bettered their highest ever opening partnership against Australia, eclipsing 116 from the Perth Test two years ago.


Post lunch also the script remained the same for Ponting and company. The only difference was that Hilfenhaus and Nathan Hauritz bowled a few good overs to start off. But once the bearings were in place, Cook started to loft Hauritz over the on-side. The two continued to score freely and forged the highest opening partnership by an England opening combination at Lord's. Their stand of 196 bettered the previous 83-year-old record held by Jack Hobbs and Herbert Sutcliffe by 14 runs.


What further added to Australia's woes was Hauritz injury while trying to take a hard-hit return catch of Andrew Strauss. He dislocated the middle finger on his bowling hand and was immediately taken from the field for treatment. Such was the force of the shot that the bowler after being hit, immediately signalled to the dressing room in distress.


Nothing though could stop the English openers. They went about their job with considerable ease at the expense of an Australian bowling group guilty of inaccuracy. But finally the wicket came and the bowler scalping was the least likely one considering the horror day he was going through. A straight one from Mitchell Johnson kept a little low and Cook missed it, missing his century by five runs in the process. The wicket though improved the looks of Johnson's figures, but still statistics of 77 runs from 11 overs and just one wicket till tea hardly looked of the same bowler who had brought the South Africans down on their feet just three months ago.


Another wicket came quickly in the form of Ravi Bopara (18) who looked intent on playing his shots from the word go. One such across the line attempted stroke to a straight one from Bilfenhaus brought his downfall. He was plumb in front and the umpire had no hesitation in sending him back.


Strauss though continued to play his measured innings from the other end. The England captain raised his fourth Test ton at Lord's from the penultimate ball before tea, and celebrated with a leap in the air and a rapturous swipe of the bat. He and Kevin Pietersen entered the tea break and the smiles on their faces while they were walking towards the dressing room said a good lot about England's domination of the two sessions till then.


Post the tea interval, Australia drew first blood as Pietersen fell in a manner that has been his weakness for a while now. Responding to a brilliant delivery that moved away just a touch from him, he drew forward into a drive, and the ball took a thin outside edge only to be caught by a diving Haddin behind the stumps.


The game opened up from thereon. Australia sniffed a little chance after KP's wicket and Collingwood's dismissal a little later to a shot he played so very well in Cardiff gave the tourists more than a sneaking chance to come back in the game. Collingwood skipped down the pitch and miscued one from Michael Clarke which went straight into the hands of Peter Siddle at mid-on. The shot left his skipper at the other end fuming with anger. The wicket also began a small procession of wickets as first Matt Prior and then Andrew Flintoff, playing his last Test at Lord's were dismissed without a lot being added to the scoreline.


After Collingwood's wicket, Johnson and Hilfenhaus suddenly started to get the reverse swing going for them. Prior got dismissed in identical fashion he got out to in the first innings at Cardiff. He again left a huge gap between bat and pad, and Johnson with that inswinger going for him, did not need second invitation.


Then Freddie walked in to the ground accompanied by a huge applause from the full crowd probably in to see him walk and rip open the Aussie attack for one last time at Lord's. But cricket is not always about good things and Fred would have surely thought the same as a Bilfenhaus outswinger took his willow's edge and Ponting accepted gleefully at second slip.


After that Stuart Broad and the skipper made sure England don't lose any further wickets and they finished on a good 364 for six in 90 overs. It would be difficult to give the advantage to any side at the moment but it would be equally fair to say that England have done a great job to score 364 in a day's play against Australia.