England shine, then crack again

LONDON - England produced another typically inconsistent batting performance as the ghostly affair in Cardiff returned to haunt them in the second Ashes Test yesterday.

A score of 364 for six on the first day was disappointing after a rock-solid opening partnership of 196 provided the perfect platform to take control of the match.

Alastair Cook's dismissal for 95 precipitated a baffling collapse in near perfect conditions at a sun-kissed Lord's with Ravi Bopara, Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood, Matt Prior and Andrew Flintoff falling to lazy strokes.

The frailty of the England batting was reminiscent of the team's faulty performance in the first Test in Cardiff.

Captain Andrew Strauss stayed calm in the chaos, ending the day on 161 not out, his 18th test century.

"I really enjoyed the opening partnership with Cookie but as they often do the Australians came back well in the final session," he told a packed news conference. - Reuters