Australia are quite good, England might not be as good as they thought

Bairstow carting a protester back to the Grand Stand the only time an Englishman extolled domination

An over into the opening day at Lord's, two protestors from Just Stop Oil ran onto the field armed with orange paint powder. Their aim was to disperse as much of it as possible on the pitch, only to be halted in their tracks by Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes and David Warner. Honestly, could you think of three worse cricketers to be confronted by?
Apart from Bairstow hot-footing it into the home dressing room to change out of a now stained white shirt, there was no real impediment on proceedings. The auxiliary pitch - sat two to the left of the main strip as you look out from the press box - did not have to be used. As it turned out, Bairstow's carry of one of the protesters back to the Grand Stand from where he emerged was the only time an Englishman extolled domination on day one.
Whatever debris on the field was removed with a petrol-fuelled blower, just to really hammer home the futility of the protest. A worthy one considering the debilitating effects of fossil fuels on the climate. But like many things we need to change about the world around us, there was a nagging sense it's all too far gone. Even for believers, there's enough doubt in the productivity of such acts to let the nuisance of inconvenience, however minor, prevail as the dominant emotion.
"They have consistently shown complete disregard for the people who pay to attend events," said CEO Guy Lavender in an MCC press release about the protest that dropped an hour later. A line far more instructive than he would have intended 24 hours after the institution had to confront a chastening from the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket for being woefully out of step with "contemporary Britan".
The home of cricket is only a home for those who look a certain way and, principally, can afford the entry fee. A fee which MCC felt entitled those who can afford it to an uninterrupted day's play without being reminded the ground's main sponsor JP Morgan is the world's worst fossil fuel financing bank.
It also entitles them to, well, not watch the cricket. Just as celebrated as the members rushing for seats in the Pavilion before the start of play is the afternoon meander to the various greens of the Nursery Ground, Coronation and Harris Gardens. A point in the day when they think, you know, all this cricket is getting in the way of our conversing.
On this occasion, you could understand the motivation of those punters, however strong their ties to this England team are. This was not good viewing, by any means. Overly full bowling at a worryingly docile pace. Nuts so nude you could see the birthmarks.
No one in England garb looked like they really wanted to be there, save Josh Tongue in his second Test, which is damning in its own way. They had flunked the best conditions you could ever ask for at this ground. Even Stokes seemed to be devoid of the usual funk, fiddling intermittently when testing Travis Head out with the short ball, but otherwise sticking to by-the-book fields featured in many of the paintings adorning the walls of the closed-off Long Room.
As England went through the back end of 83 overs of toil, they probably looked upon the now vacant spaces in the stands with some jealousy. If only they could saunter off and chill out, rather than pointlessly address Australia's screw-turning.
At another time, players would think nothing of it. They all know this is a ground those not really into cricket come to be seen at rather than actually do any seeing. But given all the success coming into this summer, all the Bazball buzz heading into an Ashes, even the way the Edgbaston opener played out day to day, something about these empty white seats created far more of a stain than any orange pigment.
There was a sense of lost hope. Of a team who pride themselves on entertaining whether they win or lose, simply losing the thread of their most vaunted - and thus, most watched - series to date, in quite unwatchable fashion. Whether you watched all of the 339 runs and five wickets, or just the first session, you were left with the same mundane conclusions. Australia are quite good. England might not be as good as they thought.
There is a point be made that this is the worst ground for this particular England Test side. It's as much the pitch - devoid of meaningful bounce today from the Nursery End - as the tradition hanging over this joint, cruelly over-emphasising the grandeur of an Ashes to a group whose best cricket over the last year has come through not taking the game and their part in it too seriously.
They also need those watching them to invest emotionally in what they do, which doesn't happen here. Perhaps Wednesday was when they found out the hard way that this Lord's crowd need a bit more than vibes and the wrong kind of jaunty hats to buy into what you're selling. And it's not so much the ones who wander off, more those who remain. They've seen far more than most, and they care not for golfing anecdotes other than their own.
There's no Hollies Stand or Western Terrace here. Other than the occasional sponsored brass band on the outfield, no instruments are allowed. All the beer snakes are killed at birth. Try and sneak in an extra can at your peril. Oh and revelry? Just try and get that past a thorough pat-down. Whatever noise to be made has to come from the middle, and but for the cracks off the middle of the bats of David Warner, Marnus Labuschagne, Head and Steve Smith (with plenty to come from him), England couldn't produce the infectious music that has scored the last 14 months.
Expect all or some of the above to get fashioned into some excuse behind closed doors, and pray to whoever you pray to it's not uttered publicly. There has been enough talk for a life time. Six days into this series, England's worst by some distance has an entire narrative they built shifting against them. Previous lauders are now doubters. Their most high-profile celebrators now their harshest critics.
Now, only actions matter. And at a time when English cricket and the world at large step up to fight harder in unending battles for betterment, those on the field (who are meant to be there) now find themselves rallying in similar fashion. They must hope like hell these are not equally futile circumstances.

Vithushan Ehantharajah is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo