Steve Smith hammered England on and off the pitch as Australia piled on the runs on day one of the second Ashes Test at Lord’s.
Smith made 129 not out and Chris Rogers helped himself to 158no as the tourists moved relentlessly to 337-1 at stumps.
The pair added an unbroken 259 to set a new Australian second-wicket record at the home of cricket and make early amends for their defeat in Cardiff.
It was a flat pitch with almost no swing to assist the seamers, but Smith made sure to aim a barb in Alastair Cook’s direction, pointedly declaring his shock at the England captain’s field settings.
Smith knows new England coach Trevor Bayliss well from New South Wales and suggested he would have shared reservations over Cook’s boundary rider on the off side.
“Look, I was a little bit surprised that Trevor Bayliss would allow Alastair Cook to have a deep point for as long as he did [yesterday] to be honest,” he said.
“I think it was a good pitch to bat on but they got defensive quite quickly.
“I know that’s one thing we’re certainly not going to do.
“We didn’t play as well as we could in Cardiff and we copped a lot for that and rightfully so, so it was pretty important for us to start this Test well and hopefully we can capitalise and make a big first innings score.”
James Anderson, whose day peaked when the third delivery of the day flew over the slips for four off Rogers’s outside edge, was on hand with the English response, though after sending down 18 wicketless overs of toil he was in less strident mood than his opposite number.
“Setting fields on a wicket like that, with a fast outfield, is always tricky,” he said. “You’ve got to try to balance attack and defence, and figure out where you’re going to get the wickets.
“We tried to create pressure in certain other ways. Whether that’s defensive or not, I’m not sure.
“I probably wouldn’t choose to bowl on that wicket, but that’s what we’ve been given for the week, and Test cricket is all about adapting your game to be able to take wickets on any kind of pitch.”
Anderson refused to accept that his team were already looking for a draw at best, but knows they must fight hard with bat and ball to find a foothold in the match.
“We’ve still got to bat on that pitch, so it’s always difficult to judge a pitch when only one side has batted on it,” he said.
“We’re going to come with a positive attitude that we can still win this game, but we know we have to play much better to do that.”
Rogers, who was visibly emotional about making a ton at a ground he has excelled at so often with Middlesex, believes Australia have now found their feet in the series after a chastening start.
“I think we came into this series riding the crest of a wave and thinking we were just going to come in and take England down,” he said.
“But to suffer a heavy loss like that put us back in our place and made us question ourselves a little bit.
“I always think when you’re having a tough time it comes down to individuals to change the momentum and hopefully Steve and I have made a bit of a statement and showed our changing room as much as anyone that we can get the upper hand on England.”
Rogers admitted scoring a Test hundred at the home of cricket was special.
“It’s going to be one of the proudest moments in my career I think,” he said.
“To score a hundred at MCG then the SCG and then to get one here, it’s so special.
“I have a lot of support here, a lot of friends and it just feels amazing to do it.”
Smith was also pleased to reach three figures after coming in for criticism from some quarters despite his ranking as the world’s No 1 batsman.
His unorthodox technique has come under scrutiny, but he well and truly silenced the doubters as he and Rogers put on 259 and counting for the second wicket.
“I was disappointed to miss out last game,” he said. “I felt quite good at the crease so I was disappointed with the way I played.
“I haven’t done so well here at Lord’s in the past so I wanted to make it count and get myself up on that board and it’s really exciting to have done that.”
Smith also admitted it was important to make a statement after the first Test defeat, and added: “It looks a pretty good wicket, well it did [yesterday morning] when we first got out there, it was a little bit slow and it was one of those wickets where if you got in you needed to go big, that was what we said before the game.
“The way we’ve batted and put on 250 (as a partnership), good day.”