Anderson blitz sees Aussies fall apart at the seams
It was one of the great days of England's Ashes cricket. They had been trampled into the dirt of Lord's by Australia's cavalry, yet the players lifted themselves up and staged a daring counter-attack which has left them only three runs behind Australia with seven wickets in hand.
England's revival was the work of 25,005 heroes: Alastair Cook for losing the toss and batting spiritedly until his freak dismissal; Ian Bell, who responded to his promotion by cover-driving divinely; James Anderson (pictured right) and Stuart Broad, who sussed the conditions far more quickly than Australia's pace bowlers; Steve Finn, on his recall, and the 25,000 Edgbaston crowd who provided the stirring soundtrack for England's fightback.
The brilliance of England's four senior players, backed by Finn and the crowd, has turned Michael Clarke's strategy of batting first into a howler.
But his decision to bat on winning the toss would have worked if one other member of his team had batted like Chris Rogers, whose balance was an example to all, not least Gary Ballance, who could take Rogers as his model for making ugly and utterly invaluable runs.
Barely more than two-thirds of the 90 overs were bowled between the showers and under the floodlights, but that was long enough for England's supporters to feel that the pendulum has swung again. Although Adam Lyth was another early casualty, Cook and Bell, then Bell and Joe Root, attacked with such conviction - half-century stands at almost a run a ball - that England are psychologically back on top, as if Lord's had never been.
Anderson was as effective as if this had been Trent Bridge, trebling his aggregate of wickets for the series from three to nine, with a vital difference. At Trent Bridge he has been the king of swing. Here he quickly assessed the conditions, changed his method, and reigned supreme with seam.
The value of Anderson's shrewd assessment was illustrated after Australia had been tumbled out by tea, when Mitchell Starc swung the ball lavishly to no avail.
The ball that seams 'goes' later than the one that swings, and the later the movement the harder for a batsman to adjust. Anderson made the ball move either way, late; Starc was predictable.
Caught on a seaming pitch for the first time in months, if not since 2013, Australia's batsmen applied themselves poorly.
The shot selection of Steve Smith, Mitchell Marsh and Peter Nevill was deficient.
So, too, the shot execution of Clarke, and the non-shot selection of Adam Voges and Starc, who were caught in the act of shouldering arms.
For England, having gone into the day shouldering a burden, it was a reminder of how quickly things can change. (© Daily Telegraph, London)
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