Lord’s had to be the venue. The historic and the iconic arena that has seen some of cricket’s greatest and most memorable moments produced yet another battle that reminded us why we love Test match cricket.
England needed a big lift in their quest to reclaim the Ashes urn after their Edgbaston walloping. The Edgbaston fortress wasn’t supposed to get breached in the fashion that it did by Steve Smith’s one-man wrecking crew.
The result became reminiscent of the previous Ashes series when Smith toyed with the England bowlers down under. He made them revisit those pastings in Australian conditions on their home soil. Against the English crowd and players, Smith flourished.
Similar to the first Test, England had trouble decoding Smith at Lord’s. His unconventional style of batting spiked to an entirely another level.
For England, Jimmy Anderson’s magic was missing. Therefore, the hosts’ best bet was Jofra Archer – the tireless, the venomous, and the electric fast-bowling machine who unsettled the unshakable.
The cricketing fraternity came to a standstill at the blow to the neck suffered by Smith, then again when he had the fortitude to return to the field.
England’s plans to perturb Australia worked. Not that Australia were invincible in the first game – and Tim Paine’s men, despite securing a hard-fought draw, well and truly were behind in all facets of the game at Lord’s.
There were the missed chances of reviews that continued from the first game, the dropped chances in the field, and the perpetual failure of the top three.
England, too, had their shortcomings. Apart from Jofra Archer, who has secured a spot for the rest of the series with a demolishing performance, the vice-captain found his stride with the bat. Again, Ben Stokes’ imperious hundred came due to Australia’s inability to cling on to the edges and missing out on a review for LBW when he hadn’t got to double figures.
As much as luck favoured him, once set, the all-rounder never looked back. In the process, Stokes targeted the tourists’ trump card, Nathan Lyon. Lyon’s luckless outing contributed to expensive figures of 26-3-102-0 in the second innings, after equalling Dennis Lillee’s wickets tally of 355 in the first.
At Lord’s, the momentum swung in England’s favour. The weather may have halted the hosts’ chances of a series-levelling victory.
However, what if Jason Roy had held on to the regulation chance at slip off Travis Head’s bat in the fourth innings? The hosts may have cleaned up the tail to romp to an unlikely victory.
Despite the setback, while batting first, England laboured hard to get to a fighting total and secure a slender lead in the second innings.
The English side have arrived at the Ashes. They have set the wheels in motion that could form the cornerstone to win back the urn.
The two teams head to Headingley in Leeds, with England enjoying the momentum.