Sunday 22 January 2017

Smith and Rodgers put England to sword

Cricket

Scyld Berry

Published 17/07/2015 | 02:30

Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto
Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

England could have played double-or-quits. If grass had been left on the second Test pitch, they would have either hit Australia again when they were down and gone 2-0 up, or else been pegged back to 1-1.

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Instead the hosts have opted for a pitch which is laboriously slow and, having conceded 337-1 on the opening day, they can hope at best for a draw. The pendulum has swung back to Australia, and it may even hit England on the head before Monday night.

The process of Australia's rehabilitation was painfully slow at first.

Having been discharged from their Cardiff clinic, they were allowed out for a walk before lunch, and a stroll before tea, then Chris Rogers and Steve Smith picked up their wheelchairs and ran.

Rogers finished with 158 off 282 balls, his highest Test score, and Smith 129 off 217. Australia's inexperienced middle order of Adam Voges, Mitchell Marsh and the debutant Peter Nevill - who have seven caps between them - could not have been safer.

Meandering in the morning, and ambling through the afternoon, Rogers and Smith escaped from England in the evening by adding 141 runs from the last 33 overs of the day. Already their partnership of 259 is the highest for Australia's second wicket at Lord's.

Any accusations of a shortage of zest could be more fairly directed at the pitch than at England: no pace, no seam, no spin, and no swing after the sun came out at the same time that England went out to field.

The lack of sun earlier this week can be blamed for the pitch's lack of hardness, but the absence of grass must have been at England's suggestion, if not insistence. They may well reap what they have sown. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

England v Australia, live, Sky Sports 2, 11.00

Telegraph.co.uk

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