By Stephen Giles
- Can England follow up their good work at Lords?
- Will Australia end a horrid week by levelling the series?
- 2nd Investec Ashes Test Match takes place between 16-20 July, in London
LONDON, UK – Fresh from winning the opening Test Match of the summer in Cardiff, England go into the 2nd Investec Ashes Test Match at Lords eager to continue their good form on a ground that has largely been a happy hunting ground for the Australians.
However, Australia came out of the First Test with more questions than answers and have had a turbulent week. The core of their batting order disappointed immensely in Cardiff. David Warner, Michael Clarke and Steve Smith all failed with the bat, coupled with the more pressing disappointment which came from Shane Watson and new-boy Adam Vogues.
Meanwhile, their bowling attack will also now come under greater pressure on another good pitch at Lord’s, after their main three seamers struggled on a flat, dry Cardiff pitch. Josh Hazelwood bowled the odd good ball without being outstanding, while Mitchell Johnson huffed and puffed but rarely threatened.
Despite an encouraging performance from Mitchell Starc in terms of overall wickets (he took seven in total), he, as did the other Aussie bowlers, conceded a large sum of runs, and has been suffering with an ankle injury that is only being held up by daily injections. Peter Siddle is on stand-by to replace Starc if need be.
Off the pitch, their woes continued, beginning with Australian coach Darren Lehmann publicly criticising Watson over his form with the bat. England targeted him throughout the 1st Test and he succumbed on each occasion. He has since been dropped and at the age of 34, quite conceivably signals the end of Watson’s international career, while Brad Haddin has been left out for “personal reasons” which comes as a big blow to Australian captain Michael Clarke.
Replacing the duo will be Mitchell Marsh – who scored successive hundreds in their pre-Ashes tour matches against Kent and Essex and was unfortunate not to have been selected in Cardiff – and Peter Nevill, a talented batsman and wicket-keeper – who averaged 76 in first-class cricket for Sheffield Shield in Australia last season while his reputation behind the stumps has been glowing for some time, however the high octane pressure of an Ashes series will severely test ones credentials.
Comparatively, England have had a rather mellow week which began with the unsurprising news that they had named an unchanged team, although the fitness of Moeen Ali is of concern after feeling some “soreness” following the first Test, but is expected to be fine.
The main question though, from an England perspective is this: Can they match the standards reached in Cardiff and play consistently well?
The challenge to begin with for new coach Trevor Bayliss and Cook is to put two wins together – something that has evaded them so far this year in Test series against the West Indies and New Zealand.
But Cook firmly put the pressure on Australia to hit back by claiming they remain firm favourites to retain the Ashes:
“Australia are still probably favourites, they’ve only got to retain, I suppose.
“But series are not played on paper, it’s what people deliver. And it’s always nice to be underdogs isn’t it? I think it is important that we don’t sit back and protect the lead,”
James Anderson, said there was no risk of complacency setting in as the team were bracing themselves for an Aussie backlash, particularly at the `home of cricket` where Australia opener Chris Rogers has become a acquainted figure during his time with Middlesex.
“Every opposition we play at Lord`s generally picks up their game 10 percent for some reason,” said Anderson. “When teams are 1-0 down they generally come back strong in the series, so we`ve got to be prepared for that.”
England v Australia expected line-ups:
England: Alastair Cook (c), Adam Lyth, Gary Ballance, Ian Bell, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler (wk), Moeen Ali, Stuart Broad, Mark Wood, James Anderson.
Australia: David Warner, Steve Smith, Michael Clarke (c), Mitchell Marsh, Adam Voges, Peter Nevill (wk), Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Johnson, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon.
The Investec Ashes 2nd Test match begins at 11am, Thursday 16th July – Follow via the Britwatch Live Score Service.