England show fight to recover poor start

Century-maker Bell led the charge after three early dismissals on day one at Lord’s

IN-FORM England batsman Ian Bell was content with his side’s patch-up job on the first day of the second Ashes Test at Lord’s after recovering from 28-3 to reach 289-7 at stumps.

In the blazing Lord’s sun, and with Her Majesty the Queen among the capacity crowd, England were undone by Shane Watson (1-41) and Ryan Harris (3-49) in the first session.

But as the heat intensified the ball and the pitch softened, helping Bell (109) to score a century for the third successive Ashes Test and England to reach 271-4 until a late assault by part-time spinner Steve Smith (3-18) gave Australia an unlikely lifeline.

However, Bell, 31, was satisfied with his team’s position.

“We would have probably taken this three down early,” he said. “It was disappointing to lose those wickets at the end, but it wasn’t a bad day for us.

“The important thing is to win the first hour [this morning] against the new ball. The guys that we’ve got coming in, if they’re there for an hour, they’re going to score at a decent rate and try and put as much pressure on Australia as possible.”

England captain Alastair Cook won the toss and looked immediately vindicated in making the decision to bat first after scoring six off a loose first over from James Pattinson, including a boundary off just the second ball of the morning.

Pattinson (0-79), hapless throughout, was swiftly removed from the attack by captain Michael Clarke, having bowled just two overs.

And it took replacement Watson only two balls to put a smile on Clarke’s face and begin a calamitous 13 minutes for England.

Cook (12) was dismissed lbw by the 32-year-old and Root (6) soon followed his captain to the pavilion, following a failed review, when Harris trapped the Yorkshireman lbw.

And Harris, replacing Mitchell Starc in the starting line-up, claimed another victim in his next over when Kevin Pietersen (2) edged to Brad Haddin behind the stumps.

England recovered to reach 80-3 at lunch and made a determined start to the afternoon session as Jonathan Trott (58) hit a half century for the 16th time in his Test career.

However, his fourth-wicket partnership with Bell was halted on 99 when Harris claimed the 50th wicket of his Test career.

Jonny Bairstow was fortunate to survive after Peter Siddle blew away his middle stump with a phenomenal delivery before tea. However, the Yorkshireman was given a reprieve when replays on the big screen showed Siddle had in fact bowled a no ball and Bairstow was recalled to the square by the umpire.

The 144-run partnership between Bairstow (67) and Bell was eventually broken by Smith, who removed both batsmen then added the wicket of Matt Prior (6) in 31 devastating minutes late on, as Australia finished with their tails up.