England hand control of second Ashes Test to Australia

By Sports Desk June 30, 2023

England gave control of the second Ashes Test to Australia with a host of unforced batting errors at Lord’s, handing over a big first-innings lead of 91 on day three.

From a serene position of 188 for one midway through the second evening, the hosts collapsed to 325 all out in response to Australia’s 416. An England side who have thrived on a policy of ‘no regrets’ may yet consider reviewing their approach after following some loose dismissals late on day two by losing five for 47.

Openers Usman Khawaja and David Warner took advantage to 103 in a six-over session before lunch and, with spinner Nathan Lyon highly unlikely to play any further part in the match due to a serious calf injury, the tourists will be looking to leave a formidable chase behind them.

England’s travails began almost immediately, Ben Stokes out to his first delivery of the morning. The captain had played a deliberately responsible innings late on Thursday, curbing his own natural aggression to suck some of the heat out of the damaging bouncer battle that cost Ollie Pope, Ben Duckett and Joe Root their wickets.

But his hard work was undone in an instant when Mitchell Starc angled one across middle stump, extracted some extra bounce and took a thick edge as Stokes (17) angled the bat towards midwicket. Cameron Green took the catch and England’s best laid plans were already up in smoke.

Australia offered no respite, Starc and Pat Cummins bowling with hostility and repeatedly threatening Harry Brook and Jonny Bairstow with deliveries that reared up off the pitch. Brook, resuming on 45, was hit on both glove and helmet before bringing up his half-century but that was as far as he got.

Faced with a fiercely difficult contest he tried to slog his way out of trouble, backing away to leg and attempting to swat Starc down the ground. Brook has made his name as a free spirit in the middle order but as the ball popped up to cover it was a soft and unedifying way to go.

After an hour’s play England had added just 33 for two with Stuart Broad playing against type in a bid to support Bairstow. But the unforced errors kept coming, Bairstow reaching 16 before hacking Josh Hazlewood to mid-on after his eyes lit up at a rare full ball.

Australia’s ruthless streak was out in force now, Green rattling Broad’s grille with a 86mph lifter that left the England physio assessing his jaw. The next two wickets fell to the part-time spin of Lyon’s temporary stand-in, Travis Head, Robinson caught behind on the charge and Broad lbw on the sweep.

Cummins made it three wickets in seven balls when number 11 Josh Tongue popped a catch to short-leg, ending an innings littered with regrets for the home side.

James Anderson and Broad sent down three testing overs before the break but could not conjure the breakthrough they badly needed as Australia settled on 12 without loss.

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