Late brain explosions sour Aussies’ dominant day as Smith, Head, Warner lord it at Lord’s

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 28: Jonny Barstow of England stumps Travis Head of Australia during Day One of the LV= Insurance Ashes 2nd Test match between England and Australia at Lord's Cricket Ground on June 28, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Australia have ended the first day’s play at Lord’s in a commanding position at 5/339, but a disastrous final half an hour has given England some precious respite as well as a foothold in a match that already seemed to be slipping away.

In command at 3/316 with stumps in sight on a rain-interrupted day at the famous ground, with Steve Smith looking serene on 74 and Travis Head having raced to 77 off just 72 balls, the Aussies looked destined for a day almost the equal to their famous 1/337 on Day 1 at the same venue in 2015 – made even more significant by having lost the toss and being sent in by Ben Stokes under cloudy London skies.

Scoring freely at more than four runs per over – the Australian scoring rate dubbed ‘Ozball’ by former Test captain Mark Taylor on Nine – it was by taking the bowlers on that the tourists had established a notable platform, a far cry from the more sedate showing at Edgbaston, but also how they ceded some portion of control to England in the dying stages.

In the space of three balls, a dominant day would be s

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