Ian Bell became only the fourth Englishman to score centuries in three consecutive Ashes matches when he made 109 in the second Test against Australia at Lord’s yesterday.
Bell’s innings followed on from last week’s 109 in England’s 14-run win first Test win at Trent Bridge and his 115 at Sydney in January 2011 in the final match of Ashes-holders England’s 3-1 series win ‘Down Under’.
The only other English batsmen to achieve the same feat were Jack Hobbs, who did it twice in 1911/12 and 1924/25, Wally Hammond in 1928-29 and Chris Broad in 1986/87.
Bell was caught by Australia captain Michael Clarke off leg-spinner Steven Smith to end a more than five hour innings of 211 balls, including 16 fours.
England ended Day One proceedings on 289-7.
Earlier, Bell and Jonathan Trott (58) came together with England in dire straits at 28 for three after England captain Alastair Cook had won the toss and opted to bat on a gloriously sunny day at the ‘home of cricket’.
Trott, often criticised for slow scoring, struck 11 fours in almost giddy fashion before he became recalled Australia quick Ryan Harris’ third wicket of the innings.
After the teams were presented before play to Queen Elizabeth II, monarch of both Britain and Australia, it was the tourists who bossed the early exchanges. England were soon three wickets down with Cook, opening partner Joe Root and dangerman Kevin Pietersen all out cheaply.
Shane Watson got the ball rolling for Australia when he brought one back into Cook's pads to have the left-hander lbw for 12. Harris, recalled after Australia dropped the wayward Mitchell Starc, then took two wickets in an over.
The 33-year-old, playing just the 13th Test of his injury-ravaged career and first in more than a year, then struck with the second ball of his third over when he had Root lbw for six.
Root referred the decision and after all the controversy surrounding the use of the DRS in the first Test, it was no surprise that New Zealand’s Tony Hill, now in the third umpire’s chair, took several minutes before upholding Sri Lankan on-field official Kumar Dharmasena’s decision that the ball had hit pad first.
Technology was again a talking point after Jonny Bairstow (67 runs) was reprieved by television replays on the first afternoon of the second Ashes Test at Lord’s.
Bairstow was bowled by Peter Siddle just before tea as England apparently slipped to 171-5 despite Ian Bell’s tidy half-century.
But, with the batsman on his way back to the dressing room, the officials decided to check for the front-foot no-ball and third umpire Tony Hill ruled that the bowler had transgressed. He was on 21 at that point of time.