AUSTRALIA vice-captain Steve Smith accused England of reneging on their much-vaunted attacking mantra after his side surged back into Ashes contention by dominating day one of the second Test at Lord’s yesterday.
England were subjected to a gruelling stint in the field as the tourists won a crucial toss on a benign wicket to amass an imposing 337-1, as opener Chris Rogers and Smith both posted punishing centuries.
The duo shared 259 and smashed an 85-year record for Australia’s highest second-wicket stand at Lord’s, while not since 1993 have England toiled all day in an Ashes clash for such scant reward.
England have received plaudits this summer for pursuing an offensive brand of cricket, although Smith, who finished the day on 129 not out, insists the hosts recoiled into a conservative mindset at the first sign of opposition dominance.
“I was a little bit surprised that [England head coach] Trevor Bayliss would allow England skipper Alastair Cook to have a [fielder at] deep point for as long as he did today,” said Smith. “I think it was a good pitch to bat on but they got defensive quite quickly and I know that is one thing we’re certainly not going to do.”
The off-spin of Moeen Ali claimed the sole wicket to fall with the score on 78, as the pugnacious David Warner, having already crashed two boundaries in the all-rounder’s first over, holed out to James Anderson at mid-off and departed for 38.
Aside from the breakthrough there were very few opportunities for England to make further inroads, although Ian Bell was unable to snaffle a low chance, with Smith on 50 at the time, after Durham’s Ben Stokes induced an edge. Former Middlesex skipper Rogers knows Lord’s extremely well and notched a Test-best 158 not out after scoring his first ton for Australia since February 2014, having recently struck seven consecutive half-centuries without converting to three figures.
“We came into this series riding the crest of a wave and thinking we were going to come in and take England down. Suffering a loss like that [in the first Test] put us back in our place and made us question ourselves,” said Rogers. “When you’re having a tough time it comes down to individuals to change the momentum and hopefully Steve and I have made a statement and showed our changing room that we can get the upper hand on England.”