A fine innings Ben Duckett from laid the foundation for England’s robust response to Australia’s 416 in the crucial second Test. As the second day concluded, the scoreboard displayed an impressive fightback by England. However, the cricket that brought them to this point was more intricate than the numbers alone, highlighting both the advantages and risks of their fearless approach, constantly embracing challenges.
There was a redemptive showing with the ball first thing, Australia bowled out for 416 in 100.4 overs and– a triumph in the circumstances –Steve Smith’s 32nd Test century kept to only 110 runs.
Come stumps, having reached 278 for four in response and thus trailing by 138 runs, the hosts could head to their lodgings feeling good. But in between came another white-knuckle ride for their supporters, one that comes with the territory these days but is somehow no less shocking for it.
After flexing their muscles to reach 188 for one shortly after tea, and with Nathan Lyon limping off the field due to a potentially match-ending calf injury, England then orchestrated a crazed hour of play.
Credit should go to Pat Cummins, it must be said, the Australian captain shrewdly preying on the machismo that has underpinned England’s revival under Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum. With men stationed out on the rope, he whistled up a short-ball barrage from his fellow quicks and watched three opponents happily take the bait.
In the space of eight overs, Ollie Pope, Ben Duckett and Joe Root all perished in the deep and Lord’s repeatedly groaned. Most galling was Duckett when on 98, just two runs from his first Ashes century and having played so well, he took on Josh Hazlewood’s bumper, fluffed the contact and saw the ball fly to long leg.