For so long yesterday in the bright summer sunshine, England made light of history. But by the close of their resumed quest for the Ashes they could feel its weight bearing down on them once more.
The resplendent start they made to the second Test at a ground where they have not beaten Australia for 75 years had given way to something more prosaic. Not quite all the dreams encouraged by a scintillating first-wicket stand of 196 had been wasted but the most outrageous of them had gone, never to return.
England finished the opening day on 364 for 6. The captain, Andrew Strauss made an unbeaten 161 of these, the highest of his three centuries against Australia, his fellow opener Alastair Cook 95. The middle order, to a man, failed to capitalise. Australia must have viewed this with considerable relief edging into smugness.
Throughout most of the first two sessions, the tourists' attack had looked bereft of penetration or ideas. It had seemed a bold policy to select four bowlers none of whom had bowled at Lord's before and therefore knew nothing of the vagaries that the infamous slope could bring, and for more than four hours it looked foolish.
Mitchell Johnson, who came to this country two months ago as the world's best fast bowler, was all over the place. Short of confidence, his action lacked any fluency. He was bowling at Lord's and threatening to end up across town at The Oval and at one point it looked as though Australia dare not put him on to bowl. When Nathan Hauritz, their off spinner who was set to wheel thanklessly away at the Nursery End for much of the day, dislocated a finger in failing to hold on to a withering return catch offered by Strauss, four became three.
Yet by the time the day was done, Australia had come charging back into it. Johnson had taken two of the wickets to fall, with two of the few straight balls he had bowled and had the bizarre figures of 2 for 107 from 19 overs. England's batsman, as they had at Cardiff and promised not to do again, contributed enormously to their own downfalls.
If they were aware of the history of past contests between England and Australia at Lord's, as they ought to have been, they might also have remembered what Abraham Lincoln had to say about promises: "We must not promise what we ought not lest we be called on to perform what we cannot."
How different it had looked in the morning and afternoon. Strauss and Cook took full advantage of some of the most insipid Australian bowling that can have been witnessed at any ground, let alone the greatest in the world where they like to call the shots. Johnson was erratic but the aggressive Peter Siddle also found it difficult to come to terms with the ground and the occasion.
Ben Hilfenhaus was much the most impressive of the three seamers, though he might have made the batsmen play more. Hauritz was on 30 minutes before lunch. Nothing could confirm more that matters were not going Australia's way.
Cook had his strengths played to, as it were. He cut and pulled adeptly through mid-wicket, was allowed to clip off his legs and his innings contained 18 fours. This was dominant. Similarly, Strauss, although less acquisitive, was no less assured. They were not threatened. By lunch, England had reached 126 without loss and folk were reminiscing fondly about the second Test of 2005 when they had ventured forth on a similar rampage.
There seemed nothing that might pose a threat to Cook's maiden Ashes century at home when Johnson, having placed the ball anywhere but on the cut bit of the square all day, suddenly propelled one straight and a trifle low into Cook's pads. Playing slightly across the line, he was clearly leg before.
It was the highest of all England's first-wicket stands against Australia at Lord's, overtaking the 182 that had been compiled by Jack Hobbs and Herbert Sutcliffe in 1926 (when England still only drew but reclaimed the Ashes later that summer).
There followed carelessness intermingled with yet more lack of application. Ravi Bopara again looked as if he was involved in an audition for Strictly Come Dancing, which is slightly too premature in his career, and the judges on that programme would have sent him packing before Hilfenhaus trapped him on his crease and elicited another correct leg before verdict.
Kevin Pietersen was also skittish and although he played some thunderous drives there was not an air of permanence and he edged Siddle behind. Perhaps Paul Collingwood, the hero of Wales, could just about be forgiven the under-clubbed drive which saw him caught at deep mid-on off Michael Clarke, but it was still a timid shot not designed for the heat of an Ashes series.
Matthew Prior was bowled by Johnson driving waywardly at a ball that was not meant to be driven at and Andrew Flintoff, given a rapturous reception, repaid his devotees by being caught at second slip. At 333 for 6, England could have been in worse trouble by the end as the second new ball was taken but Stuart Broad kept Strauss company for the final overs.
Strauss played some of his most handsome shots towards the end. He had faced 266 balls by the close, 22 of which he had struck for four, and he may have to face several dozen more today for England to secure the advantage they crave.
Turning points: How the action unfolded on the first day at Lord's
10.58am: Dream start awaits Strauss and Cook make their way down the pavilion staircase and through a crowded Long Room on their way out to bat. Concentration and pride mingle on their faces.
12.16pm: Johnson struggles Before the 19th over, Michael Clarke walks to fine leg for a consoling cuddle with Mitchell Johnson. Ricky Ponting adds words of encouragement. Whisper it, but England have the Aussies and their star bowler where they want them.
12.33pm: Ton up Strauss and Cook put on 100 for England's first wicket for the seventh time. Could they one day match the all-time record by Hobbs and Sutcliffe of 15?
Session: England win.
1.54pm: Let-off Strauss is dropped by the hapless Brad Haddin low to his left, only to see Ben Hilfenhaus had bowled a no-ball.
2.15pm: Finger trouble It gets worse for Australia as Nathan Hauritz, attempting to take a return catch off a blistering straight drive from Strauss, drops it, dislocates a finger and has to leave the field.
2.29pm: Ponting nutmeg It gets even worse for Australia as Ponting, fielding at cover, lets a Cook drive through his legs.
2.51pm: Cooked It gets slightly better for Australia as Cook, nearing his first Ashes century in England, misses a straight one and is lbw to Johnson, the wonder being that on this day he bowled a straight one.
3.40pm: Lording it At tea, Strauss dabs to third man and collects his fourth hundred at Lord's, his home from home. Session: England win.
4.23pm: Hussey fumble Strauss cuts and is dropped at gully by Mike Hussey, Mr Cricket, on 105. The crowd roar.
5.29pm: Flintoff fails Eeek. Andrew Flintoff is supposed to be retiring from Test cricket at summer's end, but a decent edge into Ponting's hands at slip suggests he may have decided to bring that forward. England are suddenly reeling at 333 for 6.
5.54pm: Strauss imperious Andrew Strauss reaches 150. Lord's rises. Session: Australia win.
England have lost just once in 17 previous Tests when Andrew Strauss has scored a century.
The Ashes Second Test Day One; England won toss
England First Innings
*A J Strauss not out 161 266 balls 22 fours
A N Cook lbw b Johnson 95 147 balls 18 fours
R S Bopara lbw b Hilfenhaus 18 19 balls 4 fours
K P Pietersen c Haddin b Siddle 32 42 balls 5 fours
P D Collingwood c Siddle b Clarke 16 36 balls 1 fours
†M J Prior b Johnson 8 10 balls 2 fours
A Flintoff c Ponting b Hilfenhaus 4 10 balls 1 fours
S C J Broad not out 7 16 balls
Extras (b 15, lb 2, nb 6) 23
Total (for 6, 90 overs) 364
Fall: 1-196 Cook, 2-222 Bopara, 3-267 Pietersen, 4-302 Collingwood, 5-317 Prior, 6-333 Flintoff.
To bat: G P Swann, J M Anderson, G Onions.
Bowling: Hilfenhaus 25-10-77-2 (nb4) (6-4-13-0, 3-2-3-0, 5-3-14-0, 6-1-19-1, 5-0-28-1), Johnson 19-2-107-2 (4-0-26-0, 1-0-5-0, 3-0-22-0, 3-0-24-1, 8-2-30-1), Siddle 17-1-66-1 (nb2) (1-0-2-0, 2-0-8-0, 5-0-24-0, 3-0-13-0, 6-1-19-1), Hauritz 8.3-1-26-0 (one spell), North 16.3-2-59-0 (one spell), Clarke 4-1-12-1 (one spell).
Progress: First Day: 50 in 13 overs. 100 in 24.2 overs. Lunch 126-0 (Cook 67, Strauss 47) 29 overs. 150 in 38.0. 200 in 49.1 overs. 250 in 60.1 overs. Tea 255-2 (Strauss 100, Pietersen 22) 62 overs. 300 in 75.3. 350 in 86.1 overs.
Cook 50: 73 balls, 14 fours.
Strauss 50: 104 balls, 8 fours. Strauss 100: 178 balls, 15 fours. Strauss 150: 255 balls, 20 fours.
Australia P J Hughes, S M Katich, *R T Ponting, M E K Hussey, M J Clarke, M J North, †B J Haddin, M G Johnson, N M Hauritz, B W Hilfenhaus, P M Siddle.
Umpires: B R Doctrove (WI) & R E Koertzen (SA).
TV replay umpire : N J Llong (Eng).
Match referee: J J Crowe (NZ).
Reserve umpire: R J Bailey (Eng).
Second Test details
Sunny intervals, heavy rain in afternoon. Max temp: 18C
Sky Sports 1, HD1: 10.00-19.00 Highlights Five: 19.15-20.00, Sky Sports 1: 20.00-22.00
Bet of the day
Ponting to make a century: 3-1 (Coral)Reuse content