On the eve of Lord’s Test Ollie Robinson and Zack Crawley talked a good game, to the extent that one wondered if it was England 1-0 up; the idea being that the hosts were somehow the moral winners of the thriller at Edgbaston for the exciting and entertaining cricket they played. But when Usman Khawaja and David Warner put their heads down after being sent into the game by Ben Stokes, respecting the overcast weather and green cover of the pitch, ignoring the Just Stop Oil invaders before the second leg and two interruptions of rain, the merits of the traditional way of playing Test cricket became apparent.
Basics let England down
The game had an extravagant swing, but little pace or bounce, and the fielders on the slip did not help England either. If the low chance offered by Khawaja to Joe Root on the first slip was uneasy (perhaps Johnny Bairstow’s wicket was caught flat), the ball from Warner’s bat flew at catchable height to Ollie Pope in the cordon and then burst through his hands. That this chance fell out of Stuart Broad’s bowling gave it even more significance, for this time Warner was left alive to tell the tale.
Khawaja fell during the lunch hour, fending off a pitch from Josh Tong with his hands that bounced back and hit the top of the off-stump, but Warner had already surpassed his 2019 Ashes milestone, and it was only his third pitch in the series.
The pitch had a lot to offer47252
Profiting from hard work
England briefly gained control of the game-though they may claim to be attacking all the time-but never long enough to take full advantage of favorable conditions. It seemed that the boring qualities of line, length, and consistency were not for them. But for a team that swears by positive cricket, it was interesting to see how they were reduced to two slips and plenty of boundaries as Smith and Travis Head did what they did to India in the World Test final. Smith started like a man in a hurry and hit 20 off 14 balls before settling down for the long run.
As for Head, for all his apparent weakness against short pitches aimed at his body, his aggressive approach to everything England threw at him tilted the day decisively in favor of the visitors. He was down 77 balls after just 73 balls trying to deal with Root.