Ashes 2013: Ian Bell hits century before England falter at Lord's
Second Test, Lord's (day one):
England 289-7 v Australia
Steve Smith took three late wickets to swing the momentum towards Australia despite a third consecutive Ashes hundred from England batsman Ian Bell on the opening day of the second Test.
Leg-spinner Smith, who did not bowl in Australia's 14-run defeat at Trent Bridge last week, removed Bell, Jonny Bairstow and Matt Prior as England slipped from 271-4 to 289-7 by the close at Lord's.
England, who won the toss, had fallen to 28-3 in the first hour of play but were hauled out of trouble by Bell's superb 109 and half centuries from Jonathan Trott and Bairstow.
"As a captain, Michael Clarke is never afraid to trust his instincts and try something different.
"A lot of captains would have deemed Smith to have done his job when he removed Bell, and would have greeted the new batsman with the new ball. But Clarke's intuition told him to stick with the spinner and his decision bore spectacular results.
"It is the sort of proactive captaincy you expect to see in Test cricket and it put his team in a strong position."
Smith's dramatic late intervention, however, ensured Australia will be the more satisfied of the teams as they look to level the five-match series.
England's predicament could have been worse had Bairstow not enjoyed a significant stroke of luck midway through the afternoon session.
The Yorkshire batsman was bowled by Peter Siddle for 21 but reprieved when television replays revealed a no-ball by the narrowest of margins.
He went on to score a further 46 in a fifth-wicket partnership of 144 with Bell that looked to have put England in control.
Other than a run-out chance, Bell had not offered a chance as he followed up his crucial innings in Nottingham with another century at a time of need for his team.
At Trent Bridge, a sluggish pitch forced the Warwickshire man to play late and score a large proportion of his runs behind square on the off side, but on a quicker Lord's track he was on the front foot much more often, driving through the covers and punishing anything too full as he passed 1,000 Test runs at the home of cricket.
The arrival of Smith looked unlikely to trouble Bell as he lashed a full toss through mid-on for his 16th four. The next ball, however, gripped and turned before taking the edge of Bell's bat on the way through to Michael Clarke at slip.
Three and easy
Ian Bell is only the fourth Englishman to score centuries in three consecutive Ashes Tests - at Sydney in 2011, at Trent Bridge last week and this innings at Lord's.
Jack Hobbs achieved the feat twice - in 1911-12 and 1924-25 - while Wally Hammond did so in 1928-29 and Chris Broad in 1986-87.
Sensing an opportunity, Clarke delayed taking the second new ball to give Smith another over, and the decision paid off in style as Bairstow drove a low full toss back to the bowler.
Prior was deceived by a ball that skidded through a bit quicker, edging an attempted cut to wicketkeeper Brad Haddin.
Tim Bresnan, picked ahead of Steven Finn, was seven not out at the close, with James Anderson - a nightwatchman for Stuart Broad - on four.
The rapid fall of three wickets mirrored the start of the day when England, following a presentation of both teams to Her Majesty the Queen, lost Alastair Cook, Joe Root and Kevin Pietersen in the space of 11 balls.
Cook, who chose to bat first on a scorching day, was drawn across his stumps and trapped lbw by a Shane Watson inswinger, justifying Clarke's decision to throw the ball to the all-rounder for the fifth over of the day.
In the next over, Root was lbw to the recalled Ryan Harris, and failed with a review when replays suggested the ball struck his pad marginally before bat.
Four balls later, Kevin Pietersen got a thin edge to a ball that shaped away from him and England were listing badly on 28-3.
1st Test: England won by 14 runs, Trent Bridge
2nd Test: 18-22 July, Lord's
3rd Test: 1-5 August, Old Trafford
4th Test: 9-13 August Chester-le-Street
5th Test: 21-25 August, The Oval
With Harris on a high and the new ball moving around in the air, a repeat of the frenetic opening day at Trent Bridge - when 14 wickets fell - looked on the cards, but Trott and Bell saw off the threat to take England through to lunch.
As the Australia bowling became more ragged after the interval, England plundered eight fours in seven overs.
Trott was particularly fluent, bringing up his fifty in 77 balls, only for his commitment to attack to prove his undoing.
A delivery from Harris sat up on leg stump and asked to be hit but Trott flicked off his hips and placed a simple catch in the hands of Usman Khawaja at deep square leg.
England needed a partnership and were granted their wish by Bell and Bairstow, who scored his fourth Test half century, three of which have come at Lord's.
With Bell scoring heavily off a struggling James Pattinson, they took England to within sight of the close of play, only for Clarke's gamble in throwing the ball to Smith to deliver a telling twist.
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Comment number 630.Gilbo
20th July 2013 - 10:31
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