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  • England v Australia, 2nd Investec Test, Lord's, 4th day

England complete crushing four-day win

The Report by David Hopps
July 21, 2013
England 361 (Bell 109, Bairstow 67Harris 5-72) and 349 for 7 dec (Root 180, Bell 74, Siddle 3-65) beat Australia 128 (Swann 5-44) and 235 (Khawaja 54, Clarke 51, Swann 4-78) by 347 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Joe Root struck twice before tea © AFP
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England secured a 2-0 lead in the Investec Ashes series as they completed an inevitable victory against Australia with draining efficiency at the fag-end of the fourth day at Lord's. Australia were four balls away from taking the match into a fifth day, with England forced to take a second new ball, the extra half-hour and finally resorting to silent prayer before completing a 347-run win.

Before an impatient Lord's crowd, eager to tick a box marked victory and head home, Australia's last pair, Darren Pattinson and Ryan Harris, established Australia's second highest stand of the innings - 43 runs awash with defiance. At Trent Bridge, Ashton Agar and Phil Hughes registered the highest last-wicket partnership in Test history, and Australia's highest of the match. If only the batsmen could bat, they might make a fist of this series.

Returning on Monday morning might have been a suitable mini-punishment for England after they self-indulgently batted on for 18 minutes on the fourth morning in a failed attempt to present Joe Root with a double century. He fell attempting a ramp shot with nine men on the boundary. It was such a unique achievement, perhaps Lord's should order an extra Honours Board for it.

But England have four Ashes victories in a row, the strategy of dry pitches is working like a dream and Root's 180 emphasised the gulf between the sides. The youngest English player to make a Test hundred at Lord's, unsurprisingly he took the man-of-the-match award. "I've loved every minute of it," he said.

England made skilful use of a wearing Lord's surface, with the offspin of Graeme Swann predictably to the fore, and with Root also making a cheery guest appearance to break the back of the Australia innings just before tea. Australia will be particularly disturbed that they have completed back-to-back wins without major contributions from the likes of Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen.

Australia have only straws to clutch at - Usman Khawaja acquitted himself responsibly at No. 3 to make his second Test half-century and their bowlers are displaying commendable spirit with both bat and ball - but only one side in history has ever won a series 3-2 after losing the first two Tests. England can surely assume the Ashes are as good as retained.

Only one Test side, also, has ever survived for 173 overs or more to draw a match. That was England against South Africa in Durban in 1939 when a Timeless Test was abandoned after nine days so England could catch a boat home. Australia's task was to show they were not on a slow boat to nowhere, to transform a humiliation into a defeat respectable enough to keep body and soul together for the rest of the series.

That task will be made more difficult while the air remains thick with corporate emails. As Australia's players sought consolation in defeat, Cricket Australia and their former coach, Micky Arthur, exchanged public statements and David Warner's manager felt obliged to distance Warner from his own brother after he made venomous comments about Shane Watson.

Australia, bundled out for 128 first time around, were in disarray at 48 for 3 at lunch as they faced an entirely notional 583 to win. Swann led England's victory push. Expectation of turn was enough to befuddle Rogers, who left a straight one, and Hughes, who reviewed his lbw decision, only to be reminded that, in these days of DRS, lbws are possible for offspinners operating around the wicket even if they do not straighten the ball.

Before then, Watson fell in accustomed manner, lbw, this time hunted down by James Anderson. It was not the embarrassing exit of the first innings, when he planted his front pad and whipped across one and then compounded the error by wasting a review when stone dead. This time he was more respectably beaten by a ball that nipped back and, aware that there was no chance of a reprieve, shook his head mournfully at his batting partner, Rogers, and walked off.

Clarke, coming in at No 5, faced a familiar story: 36 for 3. The cricketing argument for him to bat at No. 4 is offset by the statistical evidence that when he does so it halves his average. He might have departed before lunch, too, when he came down the pitch to Swann, was beaten on the outside edge by one that did not turn, only for Matt Prior, equally deceived, to miss the stumping.

Root's memorable Lord's Test continued apace when he conjured up the wickets of Michael Clarke and Usman Khawaja shortly before tea, breaking their composed 98-run stand in a spell of 7-3-9-2. Clarke, Khawaja and Steve Smith all fell within the space of 21 deliveries.

Root, encouraging hopes that he could develop into the fifth bowler England need on spin-friendly surfaces, found extravagant turn out of the rough to dismiss Clarke, but his dismissal was a soft one as he tickled a ball down the leg side to be caught by Alastair Cook at leg slip. Khawaja put up staunch resistance but followed in Root's next over when he pushed at a ball that turned and edged gently to James Anderson at gully.

Nevertheless, there was enough in Khawaja's approach to suggest that he intends to battle for the right to become Australia's long-term No. 3. He carried the fight against some short bowling from Stuart Broad immediately after lunch, in contrast to Clarke, who was struck on the shoulder and helmet in quick succession by the same bowler. He also blocked Swann out of the footholds with determination.

Swann was a touch hampered by a lower-back injury, caused when Khawaja accidentally collided with him when dashing a single to the bowler's end, and although he regularly found pronounced turn out of the footholds, with the ball travelling more than once straight to slip or gully, he required painkillers and after 17 overs eventually gave way to Root.

Smith's departure to the last ball before tea - the batsman unsuccessfully reviewing after he had been caught at the wicket off a thin inside nick against Tim Bresnan - completed a deflating end to the session after Australia's top-order batsmen had shown as much application as at any time in the series.

Australia's frustrations were compounded by further issues over DRS after tea. Brad Haddin was adjudged lbw to Swann as he padded up to one that turned from around the wicket and then Ashton Agar's brief cut and thrust through point was silenced when England successfully turned to the review system to win a catch at the wicket off Bresnan.

The TV umpire, Tony Hill, upheld it on noise (and Snicko supported him) but there was no mark on Hot Spot, inviting more grumbles from traditionalists wedded to a simpler time when an on-field umpire's decision was law. In Australian cricket, there are more pressing things to carp about.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

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