England hit back on day two
Lyon injury significant
England v Australia
Friday 30 June, 11:00
TV: Live on Sky Sports
England produced a superb comeback on day two at Lord's. They ended at 2.1211/10, a whopping cut from 6.05/1 at the end of day one. Australia are 2.809/5. And yet it could have been even better.
The hosts, extraordinarily, were odds-on to level the series when Ben Duckett and Ollie Pope were creaming Australia's attack to all parts. The infamous Bazball style threatened to take down their rivals.
Only for the infamous Bazball style to take England down instead. From 188 for one and cruising they closed on 278 for four. The traditionalists would argue that with more circumspection England would have had Australia at their mercy. Not for the first time in the series.
But their commitment to Bazball is absolute and bordering on extremism. Previously it would be reasonable to have assumed that England would only open up the 'reckless' locker if absolutely necessary. At Lord's they flung open the door and dived in headfirst.
Duckett, who fell for 98, Pope and Joe Root all perished into Australian traps. The short ball, with men posted out, is cricket's oldest sucker punch. Each of them, however, seemed to take the ploy as a personal insult or challenge. It is hard not to label it brainless when four or five an over was on offer with the field spread for no risk.
Ben Stokes was able to restore calm, not that Harry Brook took any notice. England trail by 138 with Australia just two wickets from the bowlers.
In the short-term, there appears to be a decent betting opportunity. The par line for England has them taking a decent first-innings lead at 455.5 for even money. That could very quickly look a long way off with both batters having to start afresh and, crucially, the Australia pacers able to reset.
England's bowlers were able to do that following their shoddy effort on day one and they mopped up Australia's tail with skill and intelligence, taking five for 77. Australia might not be able to match that quick finish but with Ollie Robinson or Stuart Broad due in at No 8 the best England may be able to hope for is parity with Australia's 416.
Long-term, Australia may feel under pressure because of the calf strain suffered by spinner Nathan Lyon. Before Lyon hobbled off there was a period when it looked as though he was going to be the match winner.
With England scheduled to bat last on a more worn surface and with Lyon beginning to eye footmarks left by Mitchell Starc and Stuart Broad, which will only get bigger, Australia at odds-against would have been a wager.
As the action continues it is worth remembering that the match odds market is almost exclusively dictated to by the numbers on the scorecard. It's unlikely to make significant alterations for the expected absence of Lyon.
England could be live runners, then, for one of their epic chases. What we can be most confident about, however, at this stage is the likelihood of the stalemate. The match has moved on at such a pace thanks to both teams' run rate that a fifth day may not even be required. Laying at 5.805/1 is not for everyone but the price should be bigger.