Joe Root hit a classy 178 not out as England showed Australia no mercy to move into an unimpeachable position in the second Ashes Test at Lord’s.
Resuming on 18, Root batted throughout the day and finished with 18 fours and two sixes against a bowling attack that appeared devoid of inspiration, making his second Test ton and first since being promoted to opener.
At stumps England were a mammoth 566 in front at 333 for five — leaving their opponents a chase that would dwarf the previous Test record of 418, set by West Indies against Australia in 2003.
Just two wickets fell on Saturday — nightwatchman Tim Bresnan and Ian Bell — with England scoring 302 in the day. England’s competitive edge once again revealed itself Ian Bell stood his ground on three, despite Steve Smith claiming what looked a clean catch at gully.
The on-field officials passed the decision over to third umpire Tony Hill and he decided reviews were inconclusive, thereby reprieving Bell and allowing him to go on and make 74.
As when Stuart Broad’s decided not to walk in the first Test, Australia were left feeling a perfectly good dismissal had been in vain.
Having conceded a 233-run first-innings deficit, Australia were always likely to be up against it but Peter Siddle’s burst on Friday evening at least gave them hope of keeping England’s advantage to something respectable.
No such luck. Instead they barely had a sniff in the morning session as Root and Bresnan played responsibly to put on 83 before lunch.
James Pattinson eventually prised out Bresnan for 38 and scoring dried up with just 57 runs in the afternoon’s play. But Root was increasingly
comfortable at the crease and finally reached three figures off 247 balls.
Bell had already had his let-off and the pair took the chance to milk the tiring Australian attack for all it was worth, at one point putting on 71 in 10 overs during the evening session.
All the while the lead ticked on past entirely unrealistic landmarks - 450, 500 then 550. Bell got out softly, but Root continued to grind the bowlers down with a full arsenal of scoring shots.