Opener Joe Root guided England to a formidable lead over Australia on the third day of the second Ashes test at Lord's on Saturday during which only one wicket fell in the first two sessions.
At tea, Root was only three short of a second test hundred in an England second innings total of 171 for four, an overall lead of 404 with seven sessions remaining. Inevitably in a series where the umpiring and the decision review system have been constantly in the spotlight, there was another controversy in the afternoon session.
First innings century maker Ian Bell, who had made only three, fended a ball from Ryan Harris to gully where Steve Smith appeared to take a clean catch. The umpires asked for a review and after several television replays decided that there was a sufficient element of doubt over whether the fielder had taken the ball cleanly as he dived forward.
The Australians were not impressed and Harris made his feelings clear while there was some booing from spectators. Meanwhile, Root batted with the poise and composure which has been a feature of his fledging career since he made his debut in India last year, driving fluently on both sides of the wicket.
Nightwatchman Tim Bresnan kept him company during the morning session and was the only wicket to fall on a slow day in which England seemed determined to grind the Australians into submission after the tourists' abject batting on Friday. With their team already one-down in the five-match series, the Australian top-order capitulated again in their first innings, tumbling to 128 all out.
Peter Siddle responded with three quick wickets when England batted again on Friday evening but was unable to find the same penetration on a cool, overcast morning. Root brought up his third test half-century from 122 balls with six boundaries including a crisp on-drive off the first ball of the day. He reached his fifty with two into the covers then played the shot of the session, leaning back to guide James Pattinson to the cover boundary with flexible wrists and perfect timing.
Bresnan provided solid support after taking 30 deliveries to get off the mark, showing just how easy-paced the pitch was by playing almost exclusively off the front foot against the Australian pace bowlers. He took England past the century mark with his fourth boundary, cracking a wide short delivery from left-arm spinner Ashton Agar backward of point.
The pair continued to prosper after the lunch interval before Bresnan on 38 mishit an attemped hook off James Pattinson to Chris Rogers at mid-wicket.