Cricket

The Ashes – 2nd Test Preview – England to ring the changes at Lords

Australia won the first Ashes test at Edgbaston to take a 1-0 lead in the five match series, with the 2nd test starting on Wednesday August 14 at Lords, London – although the weather could play a huge role in determining whether the Aussies can extend their lead – or England can level the series up.

 

The current weather forecast looks fairly bleak – with at least three days having rain forecast including the first day, where there could be a chance of not a ball being bowled.

Whilst both teams will obviously be keen and eager to get as much play in as possible – though for much different reasons – the weather disruptions will obviously much favour Australia – who hold the lead and who’s objective is simply to win the Ashes by hook or crook.

The Australians, buoyed from their first test, come from behind, victory, still have some selection issues. The batting lineup – centred around the controversial but brilliant Steve Smith – is very likely to be unchanged. But it is the bowling line up that will take to the Lords ground where the questions lie….a few eyebrows were raised in the first test when Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazelwood watched the action from the dressing room whilst Peter Siddle, Pat Cummins and James Pattinson spearheaded the Australian pace attack, with Nathan Lyon providing the irresistible spin option that ultimately claimed the 20 English wickets.

 

But Lords, with its infamous slope, is a different animal than Edgbaston – but it is not just the ball that Australian team coach Justin Langer (above) and skipper Tim Paine will need to consider. All three of the afore mentioned pace attack scored invaluable runs in the first test – Siddle’s first innings 44, in an 8th wicket stand of 88 with Smith was a massive turning point in the game. Cummins and Pattinson then shared an unbroken stand of 79 in the second innings which took the game away from England meaning they could only realistically bat out for a draw. It would be no surprise then to see the Aussies unchanged for the second test – but they will leave it as late as possible before showing their hand.

For England, changes are inevitable and forced. James Anderson only bowled four overs in the first test – his absence showing more and more as the game went on and he is out for this test – and possibly the series. Jofra Archer, another World Cup hero, will take his place and will immediately be handed the task of finding a way to get rid of Steve Smith early. Expect Archer to be given the ball as soon as Smith arrives at the crease and for some hostile bowling at the prodigious Australian.

 

Moeen Ali (above) has paid the price for his quite indifferent form – putting it mildly – with both the ball and the bat. He has been dropped to be replaced by Somerset’s left arm orthodox spinner Jack Leach. Leach will likely come straight into the side replacing Ali, having appeared for England in their pre-Ashes warm up test against Ireland, where he won the Man of the Match award. However, that was more for his night-watchman innings of 92 than his bowling, where he conceded 26 runs off just three overs in the first innings and didn’t bowl in the second. That game was at Lords also. Leach will again be the main spinning option and work with the pace/swing attack of Archer, Broad, Woakes and Stokes – where the hope will be that Archer will provide the fireworks and overs that was missed with Anderson, to give the England bowling more vigour and energy than was seen at Edgbaston. Leach will be keen to keep his place for the remaining Ashes tests, so the hope is he can do a similar, if not equal, job for England as Lyon does for Australia.

The batting line up will remain unchanged – although neither Jason Roy, Joe Denly or Jos Buttler contributed that much across the first test, all will be given another chance to impress at Lords. Jonny Bairstow also failed with the bat, but will hold his place as keeper/batsman, whilst Joe Root will continue at #3. Opener Rory Burns maiden test century at Edgbaston will likely see him stay there for the duration of the Ashes in the absence of any other real options.

In our Ashes preview piece, we forecasted an England 3-1 victory. On the back of the first test, that prediction would now appear highly optimistic. But hope reigns supreme, and if it is to come true, Australia would need to win a test, and one test would need to end in a draw – likely rain affected. Maybe Edgbaston and Lords will take care of those two requirements – with the final three tests being very very enjoyable from an English perspective if so!!!

But that aside, we do feel this test match will lose too much play to the weather – with both sides able to hold the other at bay for an inevitable DRAW being the final result at Lords.