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Mitchell on fire again as English fail batting test

By David Clough

Published 18/07/2015

In charge: Mitchell Johnson of Australia celebrates after taking the wicket of Joe Root
In charge: Mitchell Johnson of Australia celebrates after taking the wicket of Joe Root

Stuart Broad and Mitchell Johnson offered contrasting takes on the reasons for England's batting collapse on day two of the second Ashes Test, but there was no disagreement about Australia's dominant position at Lord's.

Having toiled in the field for five sessions as the tourists racked up 566 for eight declared, Broad believes England's top order "didn't switch on" as they slumped to 30 for four.

But Johnson, who wiped out Gary Ballance's off stump and then dismissed danger man Joe Root for one, hinted that he had reopened some of the scars that brought him 37 wickets in the 2013/14 whitewash.

Wherever the truth lies does not change the match position, with England reaching stumps on 85 for four and facing a fight to avoid the follow-on.

"It's always a tricky period when you've conceded a lot of runs to then go out and bat for 30 overs," said Broad, who returned four for 83 in the first innings. "It's always a big test for you and I think mentally we didn't switch on for 20 minutes and lost four wickets."

Johnson had England on the run during a fast, imposing spell and clearly took delight in his role after a quiet Test in Cardiff. Asked if he felt like the bowler who tormented England 18 months ago, he said: "I hope so. That'd be nice, to have those scars come back out.

"Nothing's changed for me. It's always nice to go out there and perform and to bowl at good pace."

Johnson also laid down the gauntlet to the opposition batsman, namely not out number six Ben Stokes, to continue their commitment to attacking cricket. The situation clearly calls for a more conservative approach, but Johnson could not resist raising the challenge.

"We were hoping they would come out and play the aggressive brand they've been talking about; We hope they come out in the morning and do the same thing," he said.

The Aussies bowlers certainly took advantage of the strong position their batsman, in particular Steve Smith, put them in. Smith ended up scoring a brilliant 215.

It was a superb knock and looked like the effort of a genius as the England top order struggled on the same pitch after Asutralian's declaration.

In the second ball of England's innings Adam Lyth played a loose shot and was out for the duck. Gary Balance, Ian Bell and Joe Root, England's hero of late, all followed him into the pavillion as the Aussies assumed control of the second Test.

They are odds on favourites to level the series.

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