Cheap wickets take gloss off superb Strauss century
Andrew Strauss made his fourth century at Lord's for England
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By Adam Leveridge.
Thursday, 16, Jul 2009 06:14
A century from Andrew Strauss has given England a good platform on day one of the second Ashes Test against Australia, but some late, cheap dismissals of the middle order took the gloss of the captain's superb innings.
At one stage England had been 196 without loss thanks to a mammoth stand from openers Strauss and Alastair Cook.
But when Cook was knocked over after lunch, Australia made regular inroads into the English batting lineup to restrict the home side to 364-6 at the close.
The Australian attack were below par earlier in the day, with an out-of-sorts Mitchell Johnson the most guilty.
And after giving England's top-order batsmen plenty of encouragement with a number of wider deliveries and long hops outside off stump earlier in the day, they quickly raced to 126-0 at lunch.
The afternoon looked like going in a similar direction but Cook (95) failed to capitalise on good batting conditions when he fell short of a century by just five runs after being trapped lbw by Johnson.
Cook reached 95 with ease - mainly thanks to Johnson's poor showing - but a rare straight delivery from the seamer trapped the Essex batsman plum in front of his stumps, leaving umpire Billy Doctrove with no option but to raise his finger.
Number three Ravi Bopara came to the crease in typically boisterous mood - making 18 off 18 balls - but he was soon back in the hutch as well after a Ben Hilfenhaus delivery nipped back into his pads to prompt a second dismissal and leave England on 223-2 in the 55th over.
England would have been looking to post a score well above 500 at this stage with wickets in hand and a helpful batting track.
But some loose play from the batsmen allowed Ricky Ponting's side to rekindle hopes of bowling out their opponents for a below-par score.
Despite receiving a setback when top spinner Nathan Hauritz dislocated the middle finger on his bowling hand while attempting a caught-and-bowled chance, Australia continued to work hard and gradually played their way back in.
Kevin Pietersen (32) looked in good touch until he saw a fuller delivery from Siddle nip away from his bat, which caught an edge before being well taken by Brad Haddin behind the stumps to reduce England to 267-3.
Worse was to follow when Paul Collingwood (16) and Matt Prior (8) were dismissed in the space of just two overs - Prior's off-stump being knocked over by an inswinging Johnson delivery after Collingwood had lobbed a disappointingly simple catch to Peter Siddle at mid-on, off an innocuous ball from part-time spinner Michael Clarke.
Andrew Flintoff - playing what is likely to be his penultimate innings at the home of cricket after his retirement announcement yesterday - got off the mark with an impressive boundary.
But he was done for shortly afterwards for just four when he edged Hilfenhaus to a grateful Ponting at slip.
The day belonged to a smug Strauss, who barely put a foot wrong throughout an entire day at the crease, but he will be disappointed at a lack of help from his middle order as England aim for an imposing total tomorrow.