This from Skipper Strauss: "There's more in this wicket than at Cardiff, but it was pretty good to bat on. From 196-1 we'd like to be in a better place than we are now. As captain you always want to lead from the front, so it was nice to get a big score today - hopefully I can carry on tomorrow. It's jus a little frustrating we couldn't get another big partnership today."
Lovely pitch to bat on, this. Can't help but wonder whether a par score is around the 500-mark here, maybe more if you're facing an attack reduced to only three full-time bowlers.
Slinger Johnson for the last over of the day. Broad defends with resolve, leaves a lifter alone and gets right behind the last one. That's the day done - England's morning all the way, Australia's afternoon, probably right in the balance at stumps.
Thoughts on this total: it's a very fast outfield compared to Cardiff, and that push-drive from Strauss for four demonstrates for us nicely. Is that another, too? Yup - angled away through backward point for four more, and that's Strauss's 5,000th Test run. Wonder how many of those he can remember.
Big beamer on Strauss's chops after that, and you can't blame him at all. Tickle off the toes for one; Broad pokes feebly and almost feathers a skinny one to a wide-mouthed Haddin. Two overs left in the day.
Huzzahs and hoorahs being cast to the heavens all around - the skipper's done it! 353 minutes, 255 balls, 20 fours, and a true captain's knock. Lord's rises to its feet, albeit somewhat unsteadily, and ovates sternly.
From Robin Savage, TMS inbox:
"Right. That's it. England batsmen, your pay will henceforth be performance-related . Your appraiser will be Darth Boycott."
Broad reaches out, lanky of limb, and picks up three to Hauritz on the point. Poor old Nathan, he can barely throw with that once-dislocated, now simply located, finger. Two clipped off his pads from Strauss to move to 149. Cross things.
On the England balcony, Alastair Cook deep in conversation with Paul Collingwood... Two pulled away by Strauss.
Ooof - Broad wears one in his most private place as Johnson comes in with vigour renewed. That's a super bit of timing from Strauss, though, clipping a fuller one off middle to pick up three through the leg-side gaps. Six overs left in the day.
From Andrew Campbell-Howes, TMS inbox:
"Pietersen - 32. Collingwood - 16. Prior - 8. Fred - 4. Broad will be out for 2, you mark my words."
It was a firm push at one that moved away a fraction, and England are now reeling. It was the triple Nelson that did it, too, just as the double Nelson did for Bopara, and Australia can't quite believe how they've got back into this - at 196-0, the wheels were coming off...
1729: WICKET Flintoff c Ponting b Hilfenhaus 4, Eng 333-6
Hello - is that Nathan Hauritz back on, fielding in the deep? It is - remarkable return, but he's - oh, forget all that, Freddie's gone too!
1726: Eng 330-5
Fred's not had much of a look-in so far, and he stays steady as Johnson tests him with three successive lifters. It's not going to be a maiden from Mitchell, is it? Sweet heavens above - it is! Truly Australia are a team reborn.
From Ian in Hemel, TMS inbox:
"Hi Ford. Sergeant-Major needed in England back room staff. 10 mile run and 150 push ups at the close of play for all English batsmen getting out to dubious shots. If they do it on the outfield they can get "supported" or laughed at by the crowd while they're doing it."
1720: Eng 330-5
Hilfenhaus now, but I think he's still using the old ball for the mo. Strauss makes the most of it with a bottom-handy drive back down the ground, but that's wobbly - a slash just over second slip for four more, and a fencing miss outside off. England scoring two-thirds of their runs in boundaries today, which tells you a few different tales.
1717: Eng 321-5
Now then, Fred. What's left in the Test tank? A beefy four clouted through midwicket, that's what. New ball about to be taken, and England have let this slip away from them here.
1713: Eng 316-5
Dear oh dear - I knew it... Full and a little swingy from Johnson, but that is a ropey old shot from Prior - an airy one-handed waft that leaves his timbers exposed. What a topsy-turvy day for Johnson - he's taken two wickets, but he's shipped 92 runs from his 14 overs and conceded 18 boundaries.
1712: WICKET Prior b Johnson 8, Eng 316-5 1710: Eng 316-4
Over-pitched from Claaarrke, and Strauss square-drives with panache for four. New ball due shortly, and this could be a key little spell here - England won't want to lose another two before the close, but the Aussies are sniffing something here.
From Dave Peters, TMS inbox:
"Think I can see what is going to happen here. England 430 odd all out, Australia 670-6 or so declared. England hanging on on the final day. Possible non?"
1706: Eng 311-4
Clears throat, raises hand - could you poss manually refresh again, please? It won't bring Colly back, or get rid of Strauss if you're Aussie, but it will allow you to see who's doing what. Pleasant sun at Lord's as Johnson jogs in, and Prior gets jammy two balls on the bounce, slicing edgily through the slips for successive fours. That Colly shot, by the way - the stuff of ginger nightmares.
Phil Tufnell on TMS:
"England aren't learning their lessons from Cardiff. They are giving their wickets away as Collingwood has done there and Australia are slowly getting themselves back into this Test match. England are two wickets away from being in big trouble"
Vicki, from Cambridge, via text:
"Am I alone in hearing 'Sybil' whenever anyone says 'Siddle'? It's conjuring up perplexing images of Prunella Scales running in from the Nursery End."
1701: Eng 302-4
Cheap wicket as Collingwood attempts to slap Michael Clarke into the members' stand, but fails to middle the ball as it sails into the hands of Peter Siddle at mid-on. Needless wicket. Out comes Matt Prior, who sees out the rest of the over. That's it from me, Tom's back in the hotseat.
1657: Eng 302-4 WICKET Collingwood ct Siddle b Clarke 16 1656: Eng 302-3
Mitchell Johnson returns for his first spell post-tea and immediately finds some wobble in the air. The 300 is up for England - brought up with an untidy leg bye. Hmmm, definitely got a bit cloudier here.
1653: Eng 299-3
Clarke, head shorn of the highlights from 2005, goes over the wicket to Strauss, who turns a couple of his pads while Collingwood moves to 15 with a very unspectacular push into the offside for a single, the cricket equivalent of watching Ray Wilkins send a sideways pass to Bryan Robson during the 1982 World Cup.
1649: Eng 295-3
Siddle is nailing his lines like a thespian at the Globe, confounding Collingwood with two deliveries which thud into his pads after seaming off the pitch. Just the one from the over, a juicy half-volley on leg stump, which Strauss turns off his pads down to fine leg for a single.
Joe, from Hampton, via text 81111:
"Anyone else watching the golf whilst listening to the cricket? Just waiting for Rory McIlroy to be caught at deep square following a snap hook!"
1645: Eng 294-3
Just as I suspected, Ponting summons Michael Clarke for his first bowl of the day. the left-arm spinner, who has an astonishing Test best of 6-9, leaks three runs, all singles - one of which sees Strauss skip down the track. Steady on there Straussy.
Andy, from Stilton, via text:
"I always thought Europe's 'The Final Countdown' had dire lyrics. Rhyming 'We're heading for Venus' with 'Cause maybe they've seen us'. Diabolical."
1641: Eng 291-3
The Siddler releases a truly primeval cry as Collingwood nervously pushes forward to a delivery on off stump, but a huge inside edge stifles the appeal, which could have shattered the glass in the media centre had he followed through with his lungs. Another useful over from the fast bowler, who is starting to find a little movement in the air, although Colly milks three off his pads as Siddle strays.
Tim Fordham, TMS inbox:
"Another example of poor food-based lyrics comes in Roots Manuva's eponymous record 'Witness the Fitness' where he rhymes 'cos right now I see clearer than most, I sit here contending with this cheese on toast'. Genius."
1636: Eng 286-3
North rumbles in for his 17th over and sees Colly cut three runs behind square before Strauss sweeps a single from middle stump down to fine leg. Not quite sure about Ponting's tactics with the spinner here, does he has little faith in his main strike bowler MJ?
1633: Eng 280-3
Another decent over from Siddle, whose molars are in severe danger of turning into enamel dust judging by his various grimaces and gritting of teeth. He leaks a single - a flick off Collingwood's pads - with another delivery over the 90mph scale.
Cliff, flicking from Ashes to Open live commentaries, via text:
"On food based dreadful lyrics I always thought ' cant complain, mustn't grumble, help yourself to another piece of apple crumble' was a piece of 80s ABC genius."
1629: Eng 279-3
Collingwood skips down the track and punches Marcus North over mid-on for his first runs of the day, a dainty shot, although some may have had their hearts in their mouths watching a man on 0 play a stroke like that. Very little turn for North as Colly nicks the strike with a single.
1625: Eng 274-3
The Siddler has his hands on his sizeable head as Strauss flashes a cut through the hands of Mike Hussey at gully. Strauss fails to get on top of the ball, but fortunately plays the shot with sufficient power to pierce the usually adhesive hands of Mr Cricket. More grimaces from Siddle as Strauss elects to leave a delivery which outrageously flirts with the outside of his off stump. The Aussies are sniffing something here.
1621: Eng 270-3
Strauss adds a couple backward of square off North before adding another run in the same area, allowing Collingwood to see out the rest of the over. The Durham man plays possibly the ugliest forward defensive of the day, but luckily aesthetics are not high on the agenda right now.
1618: Eng 267-3
Siddle is bowling with real wheels - his fourth delivery clocks in at a bail-busting 92mph, which Collingwood does well to push down the wicket. Excellent over from The Siddler, who, with his comedy war paint, would probably make a decent fist of it as a Batman supervillian. Although I don't really want to see him in a tight green lycra catsuit.
1615: Eng 267-3
After dismissively spanking Siddle for two boundaries from the Victorian's previous over, KP is squared up by a delivery which holds its line outside off stump, nicking an edge which Brad Haddin pouches off his toes. Good delivery, with the slope aiding the movement away from the bat. Big wicket as the saviour of Cardiff - Not Monty - Paul Collingwood strolls to the crease.
1613: WICKET - Eng 267-3 Pietersen ct Haddin b Siddle 32 1612: Eng 267-2
Strauss hangs his head, probably in shame, after failing to connect with a wide, looping delivery outside off stump from North, a ball not too dissimilar to his second-innings dismissal in Cardiff.
1609: Eng 265-2
Peter Siddle/Mickey Miller, war paint aglow - complete with a grimace would could make milk curdle - rolls in from the Nursery End and sees Pietersen crash a gorgeous front-foot drive through extra cover for four, before thumping a Tendulkar-like straight drive past the bowler's follow through for another boundary. That's more like it from KP, who was dangerously close to losing his marbles in the over before tea.
1604: Eng 257-2
North ambles in like a second XI tweaker and offers nothing to worry Strauss outside off stump. The England skipper watches the ball turn harmlessly a foot outside his off stump before pushing a single through the covers before KP turns a single off his toes. A thoroughly soporific start.
Out stroll Strauss and KP, a ripple of applause greets their arrival, many of those hands still wiping off the remnants of brie and grape sandwiches washed down with a lovely Pinot. Marcus North to continue.
Anon, text 81111:
"How the Aussies could do with a Harmison right now. He's taken 1-1 off eight overs for Durham at Trent Bridge."
Before we get stuck into the cricket, does anyone know of a more pointless lyric in a song than the new Simian Mobile Disco number 'Audacity of Huge'? "Double Dutch, dinosaur duplex in Dubai, I'll be there with my friend the Sultan of Brunei." Eh? And I always thought Des'ree's 'Life', which includes the truly cringeworthy "I don't wanna see a ghost, it's the sight that I fear most, I'd rather have a piece of toast, watch the evening news" could ever be beaten.
: Hello old bean, Tom is off to douse his flaming fingers in asbestos, so if you wouldn't mind awfully, manually refresh the page
to see who your guide will be for the next 90 minutes or so.
1541: Eng 255-2
What was that? And that
? KP jabs one into the ground, the ball jumps up - and KP is within a fingernail of catching it and getting himself out handled the ball. Next ball, the Aussies still shaking their heads, he aims a one-handed pull at a short one, watches in horror as the ball loops up into the leg side and then starts laughing as it falls just short of the on-rushing Haddin. At last a single to get off strike - and Strauss dives in to slash away a wide one for the three that brings up a smashing ton. That's his 18th Test century, off 178 balls and with 15 fours, and if you can find an over with more drama than that, give Kevin Spacey a shout and stick it on at the Old Vic.
1536: Eng 251-2
Quiz question for you: with tea just round the corner, does KP defend doughtily or come roaring down the track at North and smash him high over mid on for a four dipped in diceyness and risk? Answer: look at the score.
1532: Eng 246-2
Ooo-aaghh - Pietersen takes a big stride forward to Hilfers, shoulders arms and sees his off-peg missed by the width of a virus's little finger. That's more like it next ball, though, a meaty drive past the diving mid-off man for a purring four, followed by an over-dramatic single that has Strauss scampering in panicked fashion.
From Ed L, TMS inbox:
"Good knock from Bopara there - one nice cover drive then out. It's almost like having Vaughan back."
1528: Eng 236-2
Unbridled delight all around as Ponting gathers a Strauss push, hurls at the stumps with the England man struggling to make his ground and then grabs his cap in his hands as the ball flies away for four overthrows. Can you make a screensaver out of a paragraph of text commentary?
From Michael Palmer, TMS inbox:
"Re: Ponting offspring - I'd give Madonna a call and see if she wants him."
1524: Eng 230-2
Whoooah - Strauss comes over all cavalier, and there are hearts in mouths all around as he hoicks a big spanker high over midwicket for a sloggy four. 96 now for Skip, at least three overs still on the clock before tea.
From Keith Dann, TMS inbox:
"Re: Ponting offspring. I'd expect the baby to have a press conference citing delaying tactics for not being born on Australia day, blaming ineffective mid-wifery skills, a stray doctor carrying a new pair of gloves and everybody else rather than itself and its inability to find its own way out."
1521: Eng 224-2
Suddenly there's serious swing for Hilfenhaus. He's bending it like a banana, and KP is at war with his own instincts - he aims a showy mow at one that was never there and then shoulders arms to a straighter one. Dicey.
1517: Eng 224-2
Now then. KP vs North, and there are four men round the bat. Sweaty palms being wiped all around - somewhat sweatier after KP dashes his Red Bull single and just squeaks home.
1514: Eng 222-2
Great bowling from Hilfers, technical flaw from Ravi - after three tempting off-darters, the bowler brings one back in and Bopara is trapped half-forward, playing round his pad. Suddenly Australia are amongst it, and KP will face a cheeky 15 minutes before tea here.
1513: WICKET Bopara lbw Hilfenhaus 18, Eng 222-2
Double Nelson - oh, and it's struck!
1509: Eng 218-1
Drifty-drifty from North, gently onto leg stump, and Strauss could sweep that in his sleep. The twirler then strays the other way and is driven beautifully for four more.
From Keith Edwards, TMS inbox:
"A single mother I know went into a coma as she gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl. On waking from the coma she was worried as to the names her rather dense brother might have chosen on her behalf. 'What did you call the girl?' she asked. 'Denise', he replied. Heaving a huge sigh of relief that it was a 'normal' name, she asked what he had called the boy. 'De nephew', he replied."
1506: Eng 210-1
Hilfenhaus back into the attack, and that makes sense - he's been the pick of the Aussie attack in the series so far. Bopara leaves one alone and then stretches out arms like Mr Tickle to drill another past a diving extra cover for a four that you could stick in the Tate.
Jon, London, TMS inbox:
"This is reminding me of an episode of the original series of Star Trek called 'Mirror Mirror'. The one where Kirk finds himself in a world that looks like the one he knows, but everyone behaves the opposite of their usual character. I almost expected Ponting to come out with a little pointy beard like the Evil Spock."
1502: Eng 206-1
Maiden from North, tossing them up with loopy hope and being completely ignored by an anchoring HMS Strauss.
1459: Eng 206-1
Now - how will Bopara play it here? With vim and vigour, that's how - he flicks a Johnson half-volley high over square leg for four, and then goes down on one knee to flay one wide of off through cover for a dreamy, dreamy repeater. White clouds overhead at Lord's - but is that a much darker one just above Punter's cap?
From Carl Evans, TMS inbox:
"I think having baby girl named Ricky Ponting-Fordyce has a certain ring about it. Way better than Bruce, anyway."
Carl - you're forgetting that it's my friend who this happened to. My friend Ford Tomdyce.
1454: Eng 196-1
Australia barely celebrated that wicket. What they failed to realise is that everyone who's ever had anything to do with England is now fearing the onset of a sickening collapse. New-man Bopara and Strauss stay watchful against Part-Time North.
1450: WICKET Cook lbw Johnson 95, Eng 196-1
Well, that's torn it - Cook stays rooted to a straight one, misses with a tuck and is plumb in front. He's fallen shy of the ton and that hurts, but the crowd rise to him regardless.
1446: Eng 190-0
Australia's best over for an age - a mere three singles. it's come to that. This opening stand between Strauss and Cook has now eclipsed the previous best against Australia at Lord's, a first-wicket partnership of 182 between the legendary Jack Hobbs and Herbert Sutcliffe, set all the way back in 1926.
From Nick Killick, TMS inbox:
"Re: offspring named Ponting - on the contrary, stick a baggy green cap on his (or indeed her - difficult to tell at that age, from a distance anyway), stick some chewing gum in his mouth, scribble some stubble on his chin and swap him for the real one before the next Ashes come around. On second thoughts... he'd probably still score a ton."
1442: Eng 187-0
Ponting, who is on the brink of chewing his own chin off, calls desperately for Johnson. First ball? Short and wide, cut rapaciously by Strauss for four. Second ball? The same, saved with a frantic slide on the boundary for two. Johnson straightens a touch after that, but the horse is already gambolling round the pasture.
From Drew Giles, TMS inbox:
"I don't know what to do. The text thing is all very exciting and that, but I want to listen on the radio - at least for a bit; I just know though that by turning it on, just once, just for a few milliseconds, I will directly be causing the loss of 3 or 4 quick England wickets. Please stop from me from using my terrible powers."
1438: Eng 179-0
That's a nice touch from Ponting - noticing that there are still some things that could go wrong that haven't yet, he offers up two overthrows. Generous. News from the Aussie dressing-room is that Hauritz has definitely dislocated the middle finger of his bowling hand. If he bowls again in this match, he'll be doing so up to his eyeballs in painkillers.
1433: Eng 177-0
While you're at it, stick this one in your scrapbook too. Siddle short and wide, slashed away effortlessly by Strauss for four behind square; next ball, full on leg stump, tickled away happily for four more. And then Haddin spills another easy take behind the timbers. It's Cardiff reversed.
Neil Crozier, TMS inbox:
"Looks like a clever bit of time wasting from the Aussies - somebody run that physio off the field. My friend 'The Human Toothpick (THTP)' takes these injuries all the time - he never complains."
1430: Eng 168-0
England supporters, you may wish to tuck this over away for dark, cold nights this winter: Stumper Haddin lets the gentlest of North dobblers slide straight through his legs for four byes, before Ricky Ponting lets an even slower dab from Cook roll between his hands at cover to ship further free runs. This is actually happening.
Aled Davies, West Wales, TMS inbox:
""I seem to have woken up in 1978. Tom Watson leading the Open and England no wickets down at lunch? Madness."
1425: Eng 161-0
Ginsberg Siddle, who's seen the best spinner of this Aussie generation destroyed by catching madness, canters in gamely and is tucked off his pads by Cook for a stroller of a double. 88 now for the doe-eyed opener.
From Ben in New Cross, TMS inbox:
"Re:1343 and the Ricky Ponting naming question, surely there is only one course of action. Demand naming rights to any girls and call name them after supermodels. Or particularly attractive ex-gfs."
1422: Eng 158-0
North on for a twirl in place of the unfortunate Hauro. Easy singles for the pair, short and gentle outside off getting dabbed away to deep point with minimum fuss. What's Ponting got up his sleeve now?
From Victoria Briggs, TMS inbox:
"Re: awakening from coma to a baby named Ponting, it's straight to the divorce courts I think on grounds of unreasonable behaviour (and possibly irreconcilable differences). Best hop straight to the registry office as well to change the poor tyke's name by deed poll, that will avoid any school-yard bullying and a possible case against the ex-wife for child abuse."
1418: Eng 155-0
Hauritz has reappeared on the Aussie balcony, sweat pouring down his face, his finger taped up and deep in a cup of ice, his face paler than his shirt. If he looks back over his shoulder he'll be able to catch Sky showing the incident using Hot-Spot technology. It's like a flare has been lit where his middle finger should be.
1414: Eng 154-0
My giddy aunts - if you've just eaten your lunch, look away now. Strauss comes down the track to Hauritz, smashes it straight back at him at at least 1,000mph and watches aghast as the ball goes straight into the spinner's fingers - there's a horrible noise from Hauritz, and the tip of his middle finger is bent at a dreadful angle. Dislocation, and the man is in agony - the physio sprints on, puts an arm round the shoulder and leads the poor old boy off to the pavilion.
1410: Eng 151-0
I'm told none of these updates since lunch have appeared - one thousand apologies, and if I knew who or what was responsible, I'd clatter them relentlessly with both fists. Talking of dishing out punishment, Cook is like Judge Jeffries out there - four, pulled away with all the time in the world as Hilfers drops short, and the same again from an absolute repeater.
1407: Eng 142-0
A little bit of symmetry for you as Hauritz trots in: both batsmen have faced exactly 112 balls. Cook to 77 with a tickle off leg; Skipper sat happy on 52.
1402: Eng 141-0
Hello - was that a drop? It was, you know, Hilfers drawing a touch from Strauss outside off and the ball skimming straight into Haddin's stretching left hand and out again. cheers from the crowd, doubled in volume when they see it was a no-ball too. Strauss sits back in his crease, a hint of a smile on his patrician chops, and drives through cover to bring up his half-ton.
1359: Eng 138-0
England chairman of selectors Geoff Miller in the stands there, and if he's not asleep, that's a fantastic impression of a man who is. He jerks suddenly into life as Strauss sweeps a slow single off Hauritz.
1355: Eng 134-0
Three overs from Hilfenhaus since lunch, and not a squeak of a run. Ponting hanging onto that stat like a drowning sailor to a lifejacket.
1352: Eng 134-0
Maiden - what's that? Cook - I think it's Cook, but he's clearly been possessed by the ghost of Roy Fredericks - takes a step down the track and mows Hauritz for two massive fours over midwicket, the second of which looks like a maximum all the way to the point where it drops steeply at inch inside the rope.
1349: Eng 126-0
...and another. Good line from Hilfers, probing like a suspicious Customs official. England's biggest opening stand since 1997, apparently. Lordy.
1346: Eng 126-0
Hauritz twirls, Cook stays watchful in his shell. Two maidens on the bounce, and this is tighter from the tourists already.
From Rich Purnell, TMS inbox:
"I've said it before and I'll say it again - Siddle is the twin brother of Joe Swash of Eastenders and I'm a 'celebrity' fame."
1343: Eng 126-0
Oh, that's nice from Hilfers - two tempters angled across Strauss, and the skipper is drawn into injudicious prods at both. Maiden. Here's a post-lunch question for you: how would you answer the following question, put to me - er, a good friend of mine - by my, sorry, his
ladyfriend last night: "If we had a baby, and then you had an accident and were in a coma for a year, and when you awoke you found out I'd called the baby Ricky Ponting, what would you do?"
Before Ben Hilfenhaus opens up again, would you mind manually refreshing quickly? I won't bore you with why - it's staggeringly dull.
Tim Ness, TMS inbox:
"Tom, does this remind you of 2005 at all? England outplayed in the first Test, before coming back in the second, batting first, albeit they were put in and then scoring at a heck of a rate all day."
Thank you to Chris Binnie
for shaming me - Duncan Fletcher is of course a former England coach rather than captain. Just seen a montage of the great and the good from Australia's past in the stands - Steve Waugh, Adam Gilchrist, er, Stuart Law.
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1300: Eng 126-0
Be honest now. When you woke up this morning and allowed yourself a moment's daydreaming over the pre-work ablutions, what total did you peak on - England 80-1, Australia 50-3? If there were takers for 126 for no wicket, you need to eat less soft cheese before you retire at night. Remarkable session for England, and as Strauss and Cook punch gloves and stride off, a chortling Lord's applauds with wide-eyed delight.
1257: Eng 125-0
It'll take him a while to catch Cook at this rate. Siddle has a look of toil across his feisty features as the Essex opener strokes him languidly through extra cover for four no.13, a look which turns to red-faced fury as a swinger onto leg is dispatched happily away to the midwicket fence. Am I really watching this?
1253: Eng 117-0
Strauss looks keen on a spot of Cookie catch-up before the luncheon sangers. He waits for Hauritz's drifter and then sweeps through midwicket for a four that tantalises the sprinting boundary fielder Siddle before plopping over the rope. Two balls later he's at it again, this time waiting a fraction longer and paddling later and straighter for four more to fine leg. Ponting has his hand across his mouth. He's not the only one.
Sean, Manchester, TMS inbox:
"Siddle looks nothing like Toadie nor does he look like a beat poet. He's a dead ringer for Arjen Robben."
1250: Eng 108-0
Siddle short - crasheroo, Cook pulls him for four, swivelling on one leg like King Vivi at Old Trafford in '84. That's better from Sid, angling across Cook and almost drawing a streaky rash one - but that's a gift-wrapped present, looping onto middle-and-leg and being drilled away effortlessly through midwicket for three more. Cook to 59, Strauss on 42. Easy now...
1246: Eng 101-0
Hauritz again, and Strauss paddles as gently as Jerome K Jerome to bring up England's ton. Slight air of disbelief around the ground - chickens very much being allowed to run around without being counted, but as starts go, this is all a touch first-morning-at Edgbaston-2005....
From Dan in London, TMS inbox:
"Stop picking on Johnson's bowling, have some sympathy for the poor devil."
1241: Eng 99-0
Is there a more pleasing sight for a gently-pickling England fan than an Aussie fast bowler slinging the ball down leg-side for four byes, moments before the giant screens at the ground show a slow-motion replay of Brad Haddin swearing and Ricky Ponting letting his chin sink to his chest? The cheers around Lord's would suggest not.
1238: Eng 89-0
Ponting's had enough of the Random Delivery Generator that is Johnson, and has called Hauritz in for his first tweakage of the day. No great turn, but Cook sticks a fat pad down the track and hides the timbers away.
1233: Eng 88-0
Kerouac Siddle barrels in as hazy sunlight warms the midday air. Cook waits for one, and that's more like the accumulator we know - an angled dropper behind gully for his 11th four and the half-century. There's a modest wave to the England balcony before he takes guard again with beetled-brow resolve, and then - gaaghh - leaves one outside off that kisses the varnish on his off-stump before bending away for four byes past a yelping Haddin.
1227: Eng 80-0
This is almost enough to make you feel sorry for Johnson, and that's possibly the only thing that could depress him more than his bowling figures. Two free singles and then a short one - crashed over gully with gleeful muscle for his sixth four. 0-53 off eight, and Johnson trudges away to long leg like a man carrying Derek Pringle in piggy-back position.
From Bessler Hendrie, Guildford, TMS inbox:
"Finally got it - Siddle reminds me of Toadfish from Neighbours."
So he's Toady as Kerouac? I like it.
1223: Eng 74-0
Siddle tears in, teeth gritted, eyes out on stalks - plenty of dander, minimum danger, at least until Strauss has a nervy fence at a slider zipping away. Ponting has hands on hips at slip, his tongue working a wad of gum around and then dangling it precariously over his bottom lip.
From Matt, Cambridge, TMS inbox:
"Re 1139: If Siddle was worried about what his mates thought he'd shave that silly 'soul patch' beard off his bottom lip. He looks like a second-rate beat poet."
1219: Eng 73-0
Only a fool would ever write off an Australian bowler, so here goes: Johnson is having an absolute stinker out there. A plump juicy one is served up on leg stump to be cracked away wristily by Cook for four, and when another is dropped short, it gets the same treatment - dismissed to roars of approval from the warmed-up spectators. 0-47 off seven. Ouch.
From Richard in Cambridge, TMS inbox
: "Just a casual observation but if you turn the first 'n' in Ponting upside down, you get 'pouting'. Just thought you'd like to know."
1216: Eng 65-0
Strauss on 28 now, Cook on 37, and once again Hilfenhaus is as accurate as Mitchell is wayward. Ponting almost certainly wishing Johnson would show the same control, but as Jagger could tell him, you can't always get what you want.
Ollie, text 81111:
"In my youth team we always suspected there was a pinball machine in the dressing room to entertain the depressed batsman when they are out. We think its broken today."
1212: Eng 65-0
Jagger watches on as Ponting perseveres with Johnson, but wild horses couldn't drag the left-armer's deliveries into the right place here. Short and wide outside off, slashed uppishly through the covers for four; shorter and wider, slapped away dismissively for another. 0-39 off six for Johnson this morning, and that spells trouble whichever way you look at it.
1205: Eng 57-0
Hilfers to resume us, and Strauss is happy to let the isotonic beverages settle as he leaves alone, as contented as a cud-chewing cow. Is that Mick Jagger in the crowd? Of course he is. Very small man, the Jagger.
Jonathan Agnew on Twitter:
"Mick Hunt (groundsman) told me there would be some bounce in this pitch. Looks terribly slow to me from here."
1159: Eng 57-0
Punter's not happy about the ball - he's having a word with Doctrove about it. He'll like it even less now - Cook's pulled Siddle high high high over square leg fro a one-bounce four. Drinks, and England will slake happily.
Chris, pretending to work in Kent, TMS inbox
: "Does Siddle's necklace have a 'tiger tooth' in it? That's when you know it's genuine Koh Samui tat. Of course it could have deep personal significance to him, man."
1155: Eng 53-0
Mmmm - Cookie's best shot of the day, a decent pace forward, weight transferred in Boycott-approved fashion and the ball pushed away with sweet timing for three just shy of the extra cover fence. A glimpse there of KP and Colly on the England balcony, midway through what looks like a racy anecdote. Colly raises his eyebrows and chuckles as KP waves his hands around dramatically.
1152: Eng 50-0
Siddle returning from the Nursery End, the white sunblock smeared across his lips making him look like a child run riot in an ice-cream factory. Strauss gets on the front foot and aims a beefy drive at one - cut off by a tumbling extra cover - but there's no stopping that one, a dreamy drive that races away to the fence to bring a buzz of applause from the relaxing patrons.
1147: Eng 46-0
Punter's decided to bring Johnson back on from the Pavilion End, maybe hoping that he can use the slope to bring the ball back in to the lefties. Instant improvement, too - a cunning slider that Cook leaves and then gasps as the ball skids just past his unprotected timber. There's a wider one next up - Cook prods uncertainly and picks up an edgy four past a diving backward point. I'd like to write that it's been a decent start from England, but I don't dare.
1143: Eng 41-0
Tight like Bruno's lederhosen from Hilfenhaus, who may well be a distant relation of the CMJ of fashion. Cook leaves five alone and offers resolute blade to the sixth.
1139: Eng 41-0
Siddle it is, something of the Craig McDermott about him as he rages in to the crease. Gentle pull around the corner for one from Strauss, touch off the legs from Cook for another. Siddle's got that beaded necklace of his bouncing around - it's the sort of thing you might pick up for three baht on Koh Samui, wear for three weeks and then ditch on getting back to Blighty after a gale of derision from your mates.
Chris Riley, London, TMS inbox:
"Talk of Andrew Flintoff and his brother Fred reminds me of a friend, who was watching a Grand Prix with his girlfriend. She was surprised that there were two sets of racing brothers - Michael and Ralf obviously, but also Rubens and his brother Barry Chello."
1135: Eng 39-0
0-26 off his four so far, Johnson, and you've got to think that Punter will be getting the old shepherd's crook out shortly. Hilfenhaus is tighter for his first couple, but that's short - and on a pitch with this lack of spice, Cook will tuck into those all day long - pull for four. Siddle warming up for a rumble.
1131: Eng 34-0
With fingers crossed in anti-mockers fashion, I type the words: Mitchell Johnson is having a shocker out there. He's showing all the control of a radical 1960s teacher, spraying it around with that low-armed action of his - another four to Skipper Strauss, crashed almost one-handed through cover, and then another, this time bottom-handed through midwicket. Sun still out at Lord's, weak shadows angled across the verdant outfield.
1127: Eng 23-0
Ooo-la-la, Alastair Cook - that's a little too dicey for the pre-lunch nerves... Hilfers offers up a widish one moving away, and Cook dabs at it with hands a mile from his body for a streaky four past gully. A few balls later Hilfers serves a fullish tempter outside off - another joust from Cook, another edge - this time just wide and short of Ponting at second slip. A member in the pavilion dabs his beaded brow with the end of his egg-and-bacon tie.
1122: Eng 15-0
Johnson's started where he left off in Cardiff here. A short wide one sits up with a 'hit me' notice round its neck and Strauss clouts it away through extra cover for a meaty fence-slapper. Johnson then offers up an over-corrector down leg and is clipped away for four more. Punter chomps under the baggy green at second slip.
1119: Eng 7-0
Funny old start this from the Aussie pace boys. Hilfers follows Johnson's lead and goes too wide of off, and Cook wants nothing to do with those. On the telly coverage they're showing one of those worms's eye close-ups of the pitch. It's all bare patches and curly wisps of grass. At least I think it's the pitch - it could be David Gower's pate.
1115: Eng 7-0
Huge anger and disbelief in the TMS inbox about Harmison's exclusion. I hear what you're saying, but all I'll say is this: the pitch looks as responsive as a pole-vault mat at the moment. Johnson slings down five danger-free leave-alones outside off; Strauss flicks the final one off his pads for a stroller of a two.
From Matthew Cheetham, TMS inbox:
"In an attempt to engage me in conversation when I was listening to TMS in the car, my wife once asked me who was the better cricketing twin brother, Andrew or Freddie Flintoff? What a shame that there aren't two of them, then one could play one-dayers and the other tests and problem solved."
Hats off for the first Jay Coboram moment of the day, Cheeters.
1110: Eng 5-0
Bit of shape there from Hilfenhaus, whose name makes him sound like an Austrian Christmas treat - starting wide of off, dipping in late but not doing enough to tickle timbers. Cook stays watchful, getting his front elbow high. Stephen Fry there in a hospitality slot, wearing a lime green jacket and a look of great animation.
From John Fulton, TMS inbox:
"Fred is quite clearly butterscotch in colouring."
1105: Eng 5-0
Mitchell Johnson from the Pavilion End - and that's loose, a slinger onto Cookie's pads that gets popped away uppishly through backward square leg for the first boundary of the day. No dangers on the rest of 'em , either - this pitch hardly looks like the concrete slab we'd been told about, and the ball bounces twice again from Johnson's fifth.
From Charlene H in N8, TMS inbox:
"Surely the rogue black spot on Fred's head means he should properly be described as 'tabby'."
1102: Eng 0-0
Three slips and a gully in for Strauss, Ben Hilfenhaus galloping in from the Nursery End - and the first delivery is an anti-climactic gentle wobbler that bounces twice on nits way through to Haddin. Hmmm. Three more easy leave-alones follow before Hilfers gets one to dart up the hill and beat the skipper's cautious prod.
And now the England opening pair - raucous cheers of the sort not heard at Lord's since Phil Tufnell's testimonial dinner saw the unexpected arrival of a nurse and policewoman just before midnight.
Here come the Aussies through the Long Room, the members resisting the temptation to stick out a toe and clip Ponting's heels as he bustles through.
From Alan in Greenock, TMS inbox:
"My Mrs knows such things and she would describe the burly Lancastrian as 'Strawberry Blond'
.she also describes him in many other ways not suitable for a family text service such as this one."
From Iain in Southampton, TMS inbox:
"What with the golf in one browser window, and now the cricket starting, I'd be in trouble at work if I hadn't actually delegated all my duties to other people years ago."
Forecast decent for today - a high of 24 degrees, mainly sunny with the odd Santa's beard cloud. Let's not mention Friday's outlook. Ooof.
Those teams in full: England:
AJ Strauss (captain), AN Cook, RS Bopara, KP Pietersen, PD
Collingwood, MJ Prior (wkt), A Flintoff, SCJ Broad, GP Swann, JM Anderson, G Onions.
Australia: RT Ponting (captain), PJ Hughes, SM Katich, MJ Clarke, MEK Hussey, MJ North, BJ Haddin (wkt), MG Johnson, PM Siddle, NM Hauritz, BW Hilfenhaus.
From Jodie (in the blonde camp) TMS inbox:
"There appears to be a dispute in our office as to whether Fred is ginger or blond. Discuss."
Mousy, Jodie. Or burnished copper.
If you've been with us since 1015, you wouldn't awfully mind auto-refreshing, would you? Otherwise you'll never see the TMS video scoreboard. Imagine.
From Stu in Sleaford, TMS inbox:
"Maybe we should have played Adil Rashid in the role of the Little Child Runnin' Wild?"
"I was going to have a bat too," admits Punter. "But there are some clouds coming in, so hopefully it'll start swinging about."
Lordy - it's all happening - now for the toss. Strauss flips, Punter calls heads - and it's tails. "We'll have a bat," says the England skipper.
Breaking news: Onions comes in for Monty, Harmison does not start
. Repeat: Harmison is not in the starting XI.
Don't know how you felt about the 'Freddie retires' news, but I can't help recalling Curtis Mayfield's lyrics in his prescient 1972 hit 'Freddie's Dead': "Everybody's misused him/Ripped him up and abused him/ A terrible blow, but that's how it goes/ Why can't we brothers, protect one another?/ "No-one's serious, and it makes me furious/ Don't be misled - just think of Fred."
There's only one way of saying hello today, and it's with the following two words: Freddie plays!