Lord's lit up with stunning day of cricket
HOW much better is Test cricket when it doesn't rain for eight straight hours?
After a frustrating day one washout, Lord's was lit up with a stunning day of cricket as Australia went after England's fragile batting line-up - and had Josh Hazlewood breathing fire.
Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon all had three wickets as England were rolled for 258, with Rory Burns (53) and Jonny Bairstow (52) notching gritty half-centuries.
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Australia couldn't reach stumps unscathed, however, with David Warner skittled for 3 - as they went to stumps 1-30, still 228 behind England's first score.
PAINE'S EYEBROW-RAISING CALL
There's a widely held view in Australian cricket that if you win the toss you bat nine times out of 10. And the tenth time you think about bowling, but still bat.
Which is why Tim Paine surprised a few of those in attendance at Lord's when he opted to put England in on Thursday rather than send David Warner and Cameron Bancroft out into the middle.
In a shortened match, however, wickets are at a premium and Paine felt the best chance for scalps was when the pitch was at its juiciest.
He was proved correct, of course.
HAZLEWOOD'S MIGHTY COMEBACK
Josh Hazlewood was a grumpy man when overlooked for the World Cup, having come back from injury and been kept in cotton wool for the Ashes where his red-ball qualities were deemed essential to winning back the urn.
His mood wouldn't have lifted much when overlooked for the first Test in Edgbaston. But when given the chance at Lord's he took his frustrations out on England's top order.
Within five overs of lunch, Hazlewood had stormed through England's batting line-up and had three wickets in his back pocket - including that of England skipper and star batsman Joe Root.
It was a devastating return to the Test arena for the world's former top-ranked bowler, who finished the day 3-58.
Jason Roy has edged or missed 29% of the balls he's faced in Test cricket. In the last 12 months, only one Test opener (min 3 matches) has a higher false shot percentage. #Ashes pic.twitter.com/3fyiQ2NuV1— The CricViz Analyst (@cricvizanalyst) August 15, 2019
AUSSIES HAVE ROY ON TOAST
England's white-ball king, Jason Roy, looks like a huge concern for their Test side and on Thursday lasted just three deliveries to add weight to arguments that he's simply not suited to the longer version of the game.
A wild cut shot - which became an air swing - was not the sort of shot you expect from a Test opener on ball one.
Two balls later, he was out - fending at a ball from Hazlewood which he could've left - for a duck.
"The cupboard is bare in English county cricket. Your feeling and experience in Test cricket says (Roy) ain't going to do it, not with that technique," said Geoffrey Boycott in commentary.
STEVE WAUGH WAS RIGHT!
"England beware because he's the best short leg I've ever seen."
So said Steve Waugh before the first Test at Edgbaston, of Cameron Bancroft's ability in close to the batsman - and didn't the 26-year-old validate that view on Thursday, taking one of the best reflex catches in recent times.
Rory Burns scratched and scrapped his way to a half-century - admittedly with two lives - and his awkward style had the potential to frustrate Australia, as he did to the tune of a century at Edgbaston.
Then up stepped Bancroft, taking a one-handed screamer to his left after Burns fended a short Cummins delivery which reared up into the body.
Bancroft shows no fear in the position - standing firm where others flinch - and it gave him the extra second he needed to juggle and then snaffle the tough chance.
KHAWAJA SPILLS HIS LOLLIES
At the other end of the spectrum in fielding class was Usman Khawaja, who gave Burns his first life on 16 when Peter Siddle drew the opener into a drive which was sliced straight to gully.
But Khawaja, who was in closer than your traditional gully position, got himself into an awkward position and bobbled what seemed a fairly straightforward clash.
Siddle's frustrations grew when he again drew an edge from the unfashionable Burns, only to see the normally reliable Paine spill a fair chance to his left.
AUSTRALIA'S DRS BLUNDERS
Australia had a good day in the field and bowled superbly for much of the day - but Tim Paine would like to have had their two DRS offerings back again.
They burnt their first via a Nathan Lyon LBW call on Joe Denly, which looked a strong shout live - but Hawkeye showed Lyon had generated surprisingly significant turn to be missing leg.
The second one, however, was a shocker from Paine and Steve Smith who was confident he had Jonny Bairstow lbw - when the batsman failed to offer a shot when struck on the pad outside the line.
But, as the replay showed, leg spinners typically turn the ball away after - making it hard to head towards the stumps after pitching outside off.
ENGLAND HAS A TOP-ORDER PROBLEM …
Before this series started there were major concerns about the top orders of both teams - that appears to be well founded with England.
We've covered Jason Roy's troubles, but there must also be concerns about the form and quality of No. 4 Joe Denly.
Consider it's the spot where Australia is bringing in Steve Smith, the drop in quality is staggering and while Denly fought hard in trying conditions he looked well off the pace before ultimately being caught behind off Hazlewood for 30.
Denly was made to look very uncomfortable by the Aussie quicks as they mixed in some short stuff, with the 33-year-old copping several body blows and one which deflected off his helmet.
…. AND SO DOES AUSTRALIA
Jason Roy is under pressure, but so is David Warner.
The World Cup run machine has broken down, and against the red ball Warner looks mortal again - returning three single-figure scores this series to date.
And on each occasion, as it was when bowled for three late on day two, he's been knocked over by Stuart Broad.
He's quickly becoming Broad's bunny.
Jofra Archer has brought the crowd alive in three balls. He's going to be a lot of fun for a long time, hopefully. #Ashes— Joe Barton (@joebarto) August 15, 2019
JOFRA IS AN EXCITEMENT MACHINE
By the time Australia got their innings underway, punters had been in their seats - and likely on the drink - for about seven hours.
They were starting to fade after England's first innings fell to pieces for a meek 258. And then Jofra Archer took the new ball.
And instantly the buzz returned to Lord's as this 24-year-old debutant had the ball seaming around at express pace under lights. He's went wicketless, but there's no doubt he's the real deal.
Let's hope it's the start of a long and fruitful Test career.