After a perfect start to the series for England (I often use the word rather loosely, but Cardiff did represent the ideal way to kick off an ashes summer), Australia won the toss and elected to bat first on a flat-looking Lord’s pitch.
A lot has been made already this summer about the English pitches. Cardiff was a slow deck, and instantly fans and pundits alike jumped at the chance to draw various conclusions about England’s fear of Mitchell Johnson’s pace. Once again, it has been assumed that England have asked for a pitch to negate the pace and bounce of the Aussie quicks. If that is the case, then I have absolutely no issue with that. ‘Oh, how clever!’ was the call when Australia put us on slow pitches out there 18 months ago, only to shock us with fast, bouncy pitches at Brisbane in the first test.
However, if England asked for exactly what Lord’s served up yesterday morning, then I think it was a poor call. There was very little life in the pitch, and although the bowlers didn’t bowl particularly badly, they took just one wicket all day. I imagine they might have asked for something a bit slower again, but that Lord’s took it slightly too far.
The flat nature of the pitch was apparent from the off. Warner played in a typically aggressive fashion, and pounced on anything loose, while Rogers seemingly just resumed from where he left off at Cardiff. Warner actually fell to Moeen with the score on 78, after picking out Anderson in the deep. He fell for 38, and would have been kicking himself. Part of the reason for that would have been the performances of his team mates. Apart from a difficult drop by Ian Bell at second slip, the home side got nothing. Smith and Rogers both passed fifty with comfort, and then reached hundreds, and then got more runs, and a few more right at the end of the day.
A really difficult day for England then, with the only real consolation being that they did win the last game at Lord’s after New Zealand made over 500. Something similar will have to take place here, or England might just have to dig deep for the next 4 days.