At the end of the second day's play at Lord's England found themselves looking down the barrel of a humiliating defeat against Australia. The Aussies declared their first innings at 566-8 and, in response, the hosts limped to 85-4 at stumps.
Resuming on their overnight score of 337-1, Australia reached lunch on 424-3, losing Chris Rogers for 173 and captain Michael Clarke for just seven. After lunch, Australia started to score quickly in the hope of getting close to 600 by tea or just after, which would allow them to have around 30 or so overs bowling at England before close of play. They eventually declared five minutes after tea with a score of 566-8.
Steve Smith, who recently climbed to the top of the world batting rankings, contributed 215 runs to the Australian score. It is Smith's highest Test score and helped erase the memory of getting out on 199 against the West Indies in Jamaica in Australia's last series.
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Broad pick of the England bowlers
Stuart Broad was without a doubt the pick of the England bowlers and deservedly had figures of 4-83 from 27 overs. He lacked any real support and the current form of his partner in crime Jimmy Anderson leaves a lot to be desired, with England's record wicket taker finishing with 0-99.
All too often in recent Test matches England have suffered a top order collapse and this occasion was no different. Opener Adam Lyth was out second ball for a duck; rashly swinging at a ball he could easily have left, and was caught behind.
England steadied the ship briefly, but then lost three wickets for two runs, and went from 28-1 to 30-4. Gary Ballance went for 23, Ian Bell failed again scoring just one, and his place in the side must be in serious doubt, while Joe Root, so often the saviour, also managed only a single.
Stokes leads England recovery
At the fall of the fourth wicket, Ben Stokes came in to join captain Alastair Cook and immediately started counter attacking the Aussies. At the end of the second day's play England were 85-4. Cook spent over two hours scoring a very important 21 not out and Stokes was 38 not out from just 50 balls, including four fours and one six.
To have any chance of avoiding defeat at Lord's, England must at least avoid the follow-on. They somehow have to get past 367 runs in their first innings, which will take an awful lot of serious effort on the part of the remaining batsmen.
England will be looking for at least two centuries from their remaining four class batsmen and must also hope that Broad can match his efforts with the ball, with his batting as well.
Australia strong favourites to level series
Australia have to be long odds-on favourites to level the series by winning this Test match, but maybe this is the time when England shows that this current side is made of stronger stuff than some of those before them.
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