Opener Joe Root was the individual hero on Saturday as England ground Australia into the dust with batting that was first attritional then ruthlessly aggressive on the third day of the second Ashes test at Lord’s.
After taking a first innings lead of 233 on Friday before conceding three quick wickets, England batted throughout the day to reach 333 for five at the close with Root unbeaten on 178, his second test hundred.
England, which won the first test at Trent Bridge last Sunday by 14 runs, now leads Australia by 566 with six sessions still to play and fine weather forecast for the final two days.
Root, promoted to opener for the Ashes series after batting in the middle order against India and New Zealand, confirmed the class he has shown since scoring 73 on his test debut last December.
His technique, poise and clean, fluent driving on both sides of the wicket was of the highest order and marked him out as a worthy successor to his great Yorkshire predecessors Herbert Sutcliffe, Len Hutton, Geoff Boycott and Michael Vaughan.
Root reached his hundred with a cut to the point boundary, and accelerated to pass 150 from 311 balls with 18 fours. He then struck two sixes over mid-wicket in leg-spinner Steve Smith’s final over of the day.
Ian Bell, who was reprieved on three after an umpire review when he appeared to have edged Ryan Harris straight to Smith at gully, added 74 to his first innings 109 in quick time, against a flagging attack.
Peter Siddle, who took all three wickets to fall on Friday evening, bustled in with his customary energy from the Pavilion End at the start of play, but neither he nor the other Australian pacemen were able to extract anything from the pitch.
Tim Bresnan, sent in as nightwatchman on Friday, took 30 balls to get off the mark but was in no trouble thereafter, staying on the front foot and reaching 38 before he was caught at mid-wicket by Chris Rogers, attempting a hook off James Pattinson.
Only 83 runs were scored in the opening session and 57 in the second before England cut loose after tea against spinners Smith and Ashton Agar. Bell played all the shots in his locker, bringing up the 150 partnership with Root with a reverse sweep for four.
He seemed set for his second hundred of the match − and the fourth in his last three Ashes tests − when he pulled a long hop from Smith straight to Rogers at mid-wicket.