Imperious Bell reigns supreme

By Rob Barnett at Lord’s and Chris Devine

On the day the Queen visited Lord’s, Ian Bell batted like royalty to dig England out of a hole and put them on solid ground with his third hundred in consecutive Ashes Tests.

Bell followed up his first-innings 115 at Sydney in January 2011 and last week’s second-innings effort at Trent Bridge with another score of 109.

Bell’s 19th format century in his 91st Test was magnificent and chanceless, save for a run-out opportunity on 86 brought about by Jonny Bairstow’s risky single.

Her Majesty’s visit delayed the start of the second Investec Test by 15 minutes as she greeted the players on the outfield in front of the pavilion. Soon after, though, the hosts, who had won the toss, were 28 for three with the recalled Ryan Harris striking twice.

Bell and Jonathan Trott were unflustered by the situation, seeing that the tinge of green would soon be counteracted by another baking day during this heatwave.

The experienced fourth-wicket pair added 99 on a flat track before Harris struck again, persuading Trott to pull into the hands of deep square-leg on 58.

Bairstow, reprieved when bowled by a Peter Siddle no-ball on 21, joined forces with Bell and they did share a century partnership.

Bell’s landmark was greeted by rapturous applause from a packed and sun-baked crowd. However, he and Bairstow were soon dismissed by the unlikely figure of Steven Smith, who returned 3-18 from six overs.

With Ashton Agar off the field, Smith’s leg-spin saw Bell held at slip, ending a partnership worth 144, Bairstow caught and bowled for 67 and Matt Prior caught behind.

Tim Bresnan, preferred to Steven Finn in the XI, and nightwatchman James Anderson reached stumps on 289 for seven from 89 overs.

Following their agonising 14-run loss in the series-opener, Australia made two changes in search of parity.

Harris, whose injury problems mean this is just his 13th Test, came in for Mitchell Starc while Usman Khawaja took over at number three from Ed Cowan.

James Pattinson was initially expensive but it was a surprise when Michael Clarke turned to Shane Watson ahead of Siddle. It paid dividends when Alastair Cook was lbw to a ball that would have hit high on off stump.

The impressive Harris then struck Joe Root with a straight and full delivery, and Kumar Dharmasena raised his finger. Unlike Cook, Root reviewed but extensive TV replays showed the ball had hit pad just before the inside edge of the right-hander’s bat.

Later in the sixth over Kevin Pietersen was caught behind to leave Australia cock-a-hoop. Trott and Bell knuckled down in the face of tight bowling and huge pressure, heralding a half-century alliance in the over before lunch by which time the Queen had departed Lord’s.

They capitalised on loose deliveries in the early part of the afternoon session, Trott reaching a 77-ball fifty with his 10th four. However, he soon lofted a pull straight to Khawaja in the deep.

With Bell past 50, Bairstow played round a full Siddle ball and was most of the way off when umpire Dharmasena asked TV colleague Tony Hill to check for a no-ball. Replays showed the seamer had overstepped by the narrowest of margins.

Following tea, Bairstow heralded his fifty and the hundred stand by tucking Agar for a single to leg. Bell was almost run out on 86 when Bairstow took a quick single to mid-on and Chris Rogers’ throw was just wide of the striker’s stumps.

Bell reached three figures by steering Watson for two backward of point. He was shortly on his way, though, when Smith, assuming spin responsibility with Agar nursing a sore left hip, induced an edge to slip.

Clarke’s decision to delay taking the second new ball immediately paid off, albeit via a Smith full-toss and a short delivery that Prior tried to cut. Siddle sent down four straight maidens before the fresh cherry was taken, with play going through to 6:48pm owing to the Queen’s visit.

Match Scorecard

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England Innings

Evening Session

6:48pm – STUMPS – Eng 289/7; Bresnan 7, Anderson 4 – Anderson sees out the final over from Pattinson and is unbeaten alongside Bresnan as a topsy-turvy day comes to an end. After losing the toss, Australia will be very pleased to have claimed seven wickets.

6:40pm – Australia belatedly take the new ball and may squeeze in two overs with it before stumps.

6:35pm – James Anderson, in as nightwatchman, fends off a bouncer from Harris to get off the mark. The hosts will be desperate to add runs down the order as this looks an excellent pitch.

6:27pm – WICKET! Prior c Haddin b Smith 6; Eng 283/7 – Three for Smith! Prior is caught behind cutting and England are finishing this opening day badly.

6:19pm – England now have Tim Bresnan at the crease with Prior. We will play until 6:45pm tonight and Australia still have a new ball up their sleeve. For now, Smith will continue.

6:11pm – WICKET! Bairstow c & b Smith 67; Eng 274/6 – My word! Smith claims a second wicket as Bairstow chips a full toss back to the bowler. Australia did not take the new ball straight away and will be delighted with that decision now.

6pm – Smith deserves credit for the ball that got England’s centurion – a perfectly pitched leg-break that turned sharply to take the edge. With the new ball just around the corner, England face an important passage of play. Matt Prior is alongside Bairstow.

5:56pm – WICKET! Bell c Clarke b Smith 109; Eng 271/5 – Ashton Agar is off the field with a sore left hip, so Australia turn to Steven Smith. After a full toss is hammered over mid-on by Bell, the leg-spinner induces an edge to slip. Bell’s wonderful innings ends at 109, just as it did at Trent Bridge.

5:47pm – CENTURY! Bell (203b 14×4 0x6) – Bell takes two off Watson complete a second Ashes century in six days and third in as many Tests against Australia!! What a week the 31-year-old has had. This latest knock is another innings of sheer class.

5:44pm – A cover-driven three moves Bell on to 96 and he adds one more with a leg-side single before Bairstow drives Pattinson down the ground for four. The new ball is six overs away and will surely be taken by Australia at the first opportunity.

5:33pm – Watson takes over from the ineffective Agar, who is duly placed at silly mid-on for Bell. After a couple of quiet overs, drinks are taken.

5:18pm – Bell is called through for a quick single to mid-on and would have been run out had Chris Rogers managed a direct hit at the striker’s end. Unflustered, England’s form batsman prospers from yet another cut when finding the fence off Agar to move into the nineties. Bairstow, who is looking better and better, punches through cover for a second boundary in the over.

5:12pm – Bell misses a full delivery from Agar and is almost bowled. That aside, the Warwickshire man has looked in superb touch yet again. He has 86 of England’s 234 for four.

5:05pm – Australia are struggling to apply pressure at present on a surface that looks an absolute belter for the batsmen. There’s a brief scare for England when Bairstow top-edges a pull off the tireless Siddle, but the ball lands safely.

4:55pm – CENTURY PARTNERSHIP & FIFTY for Bairstow (96b 5×4 0x6) – Peter Siddle tightens things up prior to a brace of England milestones. Bairstow tucks away a leg-side single off Agar to reach 50 and brings up a hundred stand in the process.

4:48pm – Pattinson is withdrawn from the attack and replaced at the Nursery End by Ashton Agar. It makes little difference to the in-form Bell, who cuts to the boundary once again.

4:41pm – A woeful throw from Brad Haddin results in two overthrows before Bell drives James Pattinson through the covers. The bowler responds with a full inswinger that prompts an lbw appeal, but umpire Marais Erasmus is unmoved. That looked to be sliding down. Bell helps himself to two more off-side fours, the first coming courtesy of an effortless back-foot punch, as England take 16 from the over.

4:32pm – Bairstow has scored freely since tea and England are now beyond 200 for the loss of four wickets.

4:25pm – Australia are keen to bowl full and straight to Bairstow, but the batsman counters a delivery of that ilk from Harris with a sweetly timed straight-driven four.

4:21pm – Ryan Harris and Shane Watson start things off with the ball after tea. Facing the latter, Bairstow picks up his fourth four courtesy of a thick-edged cut over gully.

4:13pm – Time for the final session of day three then. Can Jonny Bairstow make the most of the good fortune he enjoyed prior to tea?

Afternoon Session

3:55pm – TEA – Eng 183/4; Bell 62, Bairstow 28 – Agar bowls the last over before the second interval, which the hosts reach in a decent position thanks to Bell’s fine innings and Bairstow’s reprieve.

3:45pm – Bairstow, having played out the over from a fuming Siddle, cuts Agar for four to bring up a half-century alliance alongside Bell. Any runs Bairstow makes now are going to frustrate Australia.

3:39pm – Bell and Bairstow accumulate steadily for a few overs before the former eases Siddle down the ground for three. Next ball Bairstow, on 21, is bowled by a full delivery but he survives as replays, called for by umpire Kumar Dharmasena, show the seamer fractionally overstepped!

3:17pm – FIFTY! Bell (110b 9×4 0x6) – The elegant right-hander squeezes Pattinson aerially through point and the ball trickles to the boundary. Like Trott’s earlier, Bell’s half-century has helped England out of a perilous situation.

3:12pm – Bairstow drives a full Agar ball past mid-off for four. The Yorkshire batsman, who scored his first Test fifties here last year, has settled in quickly today.

3:02pm – Following a Harris maiden to Bell and an important drinks break on a piping hot afternoon, Ashton Agar gets his first bowl of the session.

2:55pm – The batsmen play out a quiet few overs, including a Watson maiden to Bell, before Bairstow beats point to pick up four off the returning Peter Siddle.

2:36pm – Jonny Bairstow gets going with a single to leg off Watson and, later in the over, Bell steers four past point.

2:30pm – WICKET! c Khawaja b Harris 58; Eng 127/4 – Trott gets under a pull and picks out Usman Khawaja, who shows safe hands as he comes in from the square-leg boundary. Trott and Bell’s stand realised 99.

2:28pm – Shane Watson’s introduction cannot stem the flow as he concedes four leg-byes to Bell, who gets four more later in the over past gully.

2:20pm – Boundaries continue to come, Bell driving Siddle down the ground and guiding Pattinson to long-leg.

2:13pm – FIFTY! Trott (77b 10×4 0x6) – Trott’s 10th boundary, typically whipped to leg off Pattinson, heralds his half-century.

2:09pm – England’s hundred arrives courtesy of the first of two consecutive James Pattinson wides. In his previous over, Ian Bell picked up a four through the covers and in the next Trott hit Siddle for another through mid-on.

1:59pm – Jonathan Trott takes a four either side of the wicket in the first over after lunch, bowled by Peter Siddle.

Morning Session

1:14pm – LUNCH – Eng 80/3; Trott 34, Bell 23 – Left-arm spinner Ashton Agar, who made his senior international debut at Trent Bridge, has an over from the Pavilion End during which Trott picks up three to midwicket to herald a half-century alliance.

1:05pm – Harris discomforts Trott with a vicious short ball that he gloves safely to leg. However, he cover-drives the next delivery for four.

1pm – Trott and Bell have batted together for comfortably more than an hour now. Don’t forget lunch will be taken in 15 minutes, not now, given the delayed hours as a result of the Queen’s visit.

12:48pm – Harris, who was beautifully cover-driven for four in his first over back into the attack by Ian Bell, beats the same batsman during his third maiden.

12:36pm – Peter Siddle is introduced from the Nursery End. He beats Trott’s bat and immediately draws an edge that falls in a gap between second and third slip before going for four to take England past 50. Even if those two slips were closer together, it’s unlikely that would have carried to either.

12:28pm – Pattinson and Watson put back-to-back maidens together to quieten Bell and Trott, who are no doubt content to bide their time in return for continued crease occupation. Both batsmen are in good touch as Bell confirms by whipping Pattinson to the midwicket boundary.

12:14pm – In the next over Bell gets his first boundary by driving Pattinson, who has replaced Harris following his spell of 5-2-9-2, for four through point. Trott then picks up four through square-leg off Watson. The Queen leaves Lord’s, a move one assumes is unrelated to England’s tricky start.

12:09pm – Harris and Watson, who takes over from Pattinson again, keep the pressure on with tight overs, the latter runless. The tension in the middle is high.

11:56am – The returning Pattinson and Harris deliver maidens to Trott and Ian Bell respectively. In the next over Trott takes the former for four to long-leg.

11:46am – WICKET! Pietersen c Haddin b Harris 2; Eng 28/3 – The hosts are three down as Kevin Pietersen, who opened his account the previous ball with an inside-edged two to backward square-leg, feathers an edge behind. What a start for Australia!

11:42am – WICKET! Root lbw Harris 6; Eng 26/2 – The right-hander is hit in line by a full delivery and given out by Kumar Dharmasena but reviews. Replays show an inside edge, yet TV umpire Tony Hill rules that the ball struck pad before bat.

11:33am – WICKET! Cook lbw Watson 12; Eng 18/1 – Medium-pacer Shane Watson replaces the slightly erratic Pattinson and strikes with his second delivery, bringing one back into the England captain, who did now review the decision. Jonathan Trott immediately gets going with two consecutive fours, the first eased through square-leg and the other via a thick outside edge.

11:29am – Root is off the mark with a four off Harris, guided safely between the slips and gully. He is beaten next up by a ball that holds its line.

11:25am – Pattinson again strays onto Cook’s pads, yielding four more – this time through square-leg. Cook drives at and misses the next delivery.

11:22am – Ryan Harris follows up with a maiden to Joe Root. Lord’s is packed and buzzing with excited conversation.

11:14am – James Pattinson opens the bowling, from the Nursery End, with Alastair Cook facing. The left-hander clips the second ball to the midwicket rope.

Pre-Play News

11:12am – The players and umpires make their way onto the field, England openers Cook and Joe Root receiving the loudest applause. We are minutes away from the start.

11am – A reminder that play will start in 15 minutes, rather than now, due to the Queen’s visit. While waiting for the action to begin, why now relive the Trent Bridge Test by heading here?

10:45am – Both sets of players are lined up on the outfield outside the pavilion, waiting to meet the Queen who emerges to warm applause from an upstanding crowd.

10:30am – Here are the teams in full:

England:  Alastair Cook (captain), Joe Root, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, Jonny Bairstow, Matt Prior (wicketkeeper), Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, James Anderson.

Australia: Shane Watson, Chris Rogers, Usman Khawaja, Michael Clarke (captain), Phil Hughes, Steven Smith, Brad Haddin (wicketkeeper), Ashton Agar, Peter Siddle, James Pattinson, Ryan Harris.

10:25am – ENGLAND WIN THE TOSS AND BAT – Like at Trent Bridge, Clarke calls incorrectly and Cook has no hesitation in opting to bat first. The hosts make one change with Tim Bresnan replacing fellow seamer Steven Finn. Australia show two alterations with Usman Khawaja and Ryan Harris coming in for Ed Cowan and Mitchell Starc.

10:20am – Australia legends Steve Waugh, Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne have spoken to the current squad in the last few days, which is music to the ears of skipper Michael Clarke. The toss, along with news of the teams, is due in five minutes.

10:10am – Both sets of players are now warming up on the outfield. Giant seamer Chris Tremlett, who has been training with England in recent days, is taking part although he is not in the squad.

10am – Home captain Alastair Cook yesterday spoke of his excitement at playing at Lord’s, where before the last Ashes Test here in 2009 England had not beaten Australia in this format since 1934.

9:50am – Play is set to begin 15 minutes later than usual at 11:15am because the Queen is due here today and will greet the players on the outfield before the action begins. Therefore all hours of play will be a quarter of an hour later than normal. The toss is at 10:25am.

9:40am – For all of our Ashes content this summer, be sure to head to, where – among other things – you will be able to find the following…

9:30am – Well, well, well, Lord’s on the first morning of an Ashes Test. The sun is shining, the crowd is pouring in and the players are warming up: England in the nets and Australia on the outfield. It doesn’t get much better than this.

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