London. Although Steve Smith was named man of the match after scoring 273 runs it was Australia’s rejuvenated pace bowlers who made the biggest statement in their side’s brutal mauling of England in the second Ashes test.
After being muted by a slow wicket in the first match in Cardiff, which England won by 169 runs, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood tore in at Lord’s to dismiss the hosts for 312 and 103.
Mitchell Marsh, brought in to replace Shane Watson, also got straight into the groove with some lively spells and key wickets.
On a pitch which had was widely written off as a featherbed when England’s attack toiled to little effect in Australia’s first innings, the tourists extracted lift and bounce with Johnson’s extra pace marking him out as class above anything England could muster.
Backed up by aggressive fielding, the Australian pace battery roughed up the England batsmen, just as they did in their 5-0 whitewash in the last series Down Under, but also kept the pressure on with accurate, good-length deliveries.
Johnson, in particular, looked fired-up after a subdued display in Cardiff, snorting in from the pavilion end in the best tradition of Aussie quicks to dismiss Alastair Cook, Jos Buttler and Moeen Ali with ferocious deliveries on Sunday.
“That’s the advantage of having Mitchell Johnson,” Australia captain Michael Clarke told reporters after his side levelled the series at 1-1.
“He’s so fit and a great athlete. Mitch has done exactly what we knew he’d do.
“We have to assess the wicket and game situation. The rest of the attack allowed Mitch to do that.”
Starc, Hazlewood and Marsh did indeed provide perfect support, along with off-spinner Nathan Lyon who chipped in with two wickets.
“Johnno’s couple of spells there were as hostile as it gets in test cricket,” said Marsh, who said winning at Lord’s was “pretty special.”
Starc struck the first blow by removing Adam Lyth with a lifting ball and consistent right-armer Hazlewood, an ideal foil for his left-handed pace colleagues, bowled Joe Root and James Anderson with rapid full deliveries to complete the 405-run rout.
The bowlers certainly had licence to attack after the batsmen responded to Clarke winning the toss by piling up 566 for eight declared.
Smith and Chris Rogers shared a superb record second-wicket partnership of 284 to lay the foundations.
“It was a good wicket,” Smith said. “We started well on day one and my partnership with Chris Rogers put us into a good position and we kicked on from there.
“I was keen to do well here. I haven’t had a good run with the bat here at Lord’s. It was nice to get some big runs. I feel good at the crease at the moment.
“I have to be patient, watch the ball closely and make the bowlers come to me, where I want them to bowl.”
Smith added another 58 in the second innings and with Rogers and David Warner also in the runs the Australians will head to the third test at Edgbaston with their confidence sky high.
Clarke played down concerns over the 37-year-old Rogers, who was forced to retire on 49 in the second innings after suffering a dizzy spell.
“Chris Rogers is still getting checked now,” the captain said. “He probably thinks we cost him a hundred today.
“I’d like to be 2-0 up, but will accept where we are now. We have to be 100 percent ready to go for the third test.”