The topsy-turvy theme of the first Ashes Test continued into the second instalment of the series at Lords on Thursday as England and Australia once again traded blows on the opening day’s play.
Following a torrid first hour which left England reeling on 28/3, the hosts recovered well to 271/4 before suffering another mini collapse to reach 289/7 at stumps.
Heading into the encounter with a 1-0 series advantage following their triumph at Trent Bridge just five days ago, England were optimistic of kicking on and making a quick start especially after winning the toss and electing to bat.
After a delayed start whilst the players awaited the arrival of Her Majesty the Queen, Alistair Cook and Joe Root took to the crease and looked to be forming a solid platform in the early exchanges.
But the introduction of Shane Watson saw Cook trapped lbw for a disappointing 12 before Ryan Harris ripped through Root (6) and Kevin Pietersen (2) in swift succession.
With England on the rack, Australia remained firmly on the attack but their joy was to be short lived over the next few hours as Jonathan Trott (58) Jonathan Bairstow (67) and Ian Bell (109) batted the hosts back into contention.
Bell’s knock secured his 19th test century and moved England on to a healthy 271/4; however the introduction of leg spinner Steven Smith turned proceedings upside down once more.
Smith managed to catch Bell’s outside edge with his first ball before going on to dispense of Bairstow and wicketkeeper Matt Prior for just six to leave the Test wide open going into day two.
England will undoubtedly be feeling frustrated having fought back so strongly for the majority of the day but Smith’s late show demonstrated yet another example of how close and thrilling the series has been so far.
Ian Bell definitely had his critics going into the first Test but his performances over the last week have been a real highlight for the hosts – alongside the bowling of Jimmy Anderson who will resume his batting duties on 4no at the crease on Friday morning.
Australia will hope to get in to bat by the end of lunch at the latest and will fancy their chances of eating into England’s first innings total in conditions which should be ideal.
More to follow at stumps tomorrow