Australia Take Control Of Second Test But Late Joe Root Show Gives England Hope

Australia ended on 339-5 on day one at Lord's
19:00, 28 Jun 2023

Two late wickets from Joe Root made Australia’s commanding position look slightly less secure on day one of the Second Test at Lord’s as they ended on 339-5. Steve Smith and Travis Head were looking comfortable at the crease but Root struck to get Head out for 77, and Cameron Green out for a duck.

Despite the late Root show, Australia will be delighted. Smith is still at the crease having batted their side into a strong position on 85 not out, despite the tricky conditions that clearly suited the fielding team.

It was a blustering and cloudy day in the capital, and Ben Stokes will have been buoyed by winning the toss, but England were a shadow of the side we saw at Edgbaston. There was seemingly no aggression in their attack, and instead of a flurry of wickets, we saw a stable performance from the Aussie openers, before Smith and Labuschagne, two of the finest batsmen in the world, settled in. 

Labuschagne would get dismissed by Ollie Robinson on 47 but when it looked like England finally had some momentum, Head came to the fore and his 77 from 73 extended the Aussies’ lead. One man who will come out with some credit is Josh Tongue, who bowled both Usman Kkawaja and David Warner as England’s other bowlers toiled. 

Head eventually fell as Root took centre stage in one over, even though the conditions seemingly favouring the seamers. It was his spin that made the difference, but make no mistake, day one belonged to Australia and their batters. 

The day began with some drama, but not for England’s bowlers.A Just Stop Oil proster ran onto the pitch with orange powder but he was met by security before Jonny Bairstow carried him off as if he was putting the ironing board away. It was the best things would get for him on a frustrating day all round. 

Joe Root put Khawaja down as it carried to second slip and then Warner was dropped on 20 with Australia at 30-0. Stuart Broad bowled a wonderful ball and Warner edged to Ollie Pope at third slip, but the ball wriggled through his palms. 

Australia are 4/7 to win the Second Test*

Australia batted superbly to make it to 50 without loss with Warner picking out a six to reach his own half century. They made it to 79 before Josh Tongue finally caught Khawaja out. The experienced opener had left to perfection in the first session but he got one wrong and saw his off-stump fly up in the air as Tongue took his first Ashes wicket. 

The 25-year-old only made his Test debut for England against Ireland last month yet on his second appearance, made a big impact before lunch. England needed a speedy wicket after lunch and they got one through Tongue again, as he bowled Warner out for 66. Warner had almost been out from the same ball just seconds before, but it missed leg stump; however on Tongue’s second attempt he made no mistake as the ball began to swing under the clouds. 

Steve Smith came out fighting, with 24 from 15 and then England thought they had him out, but replays showed he hadn’t got any bat on a Broad delivery. Smith would remains as careful as ever as he piled on the runs under the clouds.

England began to get desperate as Ben Stokes brought himself onto bowl and had a nightmare. Two no balls, two boundaries and 12 runs off a costly over. It looked as though Smith and Labuschagne could bat all afternoon until Broad thought he had Labuschagne out LBW. However, he was saved as the ball was going over the wickets, and the partnership remained intact. 

Eventually Robinson removed Labuschagne while Smith kept on batting until tea along with Head. It was a tricky position for England to be in as they were staring at an impossible task on day one, until Root of all people finally got Head out when he went chasing more runs but missed the delivery and was stumped out by Bairstow. 

Root teased Green into a big shot just three balls later to make this simply a poor day for England, rather than a nightmare. It was a tough watch, and it’s an uphill batter from here for Stokes and co at Lord’s.

*18+ | Be Gamble Aware

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