After making a promising start in the first Ashes test against Australia, England produced an all too familiar crumble as they surrendered to the tourists. Steve Smith’s incredible performance, arguably the finest batting display in the game’s illustrious history, was essentially the difference between the two sides but England’s lack of fight on the final day when they were bowled out cheaply left a lot to be desired. If they didn’t fancy the battle in that situation then you wonder how they’ll react when sessions don’t go their way and we may find out when the 2nd test gets underway at Lords on Wednesday.
England have already been dealt a blow ahead of this meeting with their star bowler, and all-time leading wicket taker, James Anderson, ruled out through injury. England missed Anderson in the first test as Australia helped themselves to a cluster of runs in the 2nd innings and it was that phase of the game were England fell behind. Jofra Archer has been drafted into the squad to replace the Lancashire paceman but replicating Anderson’s form on his test debut is going to be a big ask, especially if Smith is at his blistering best once more.
Making your maiden appearance in any sport can sometimes be daunting but walking into an Ashes test 1-0 down and trying to obstruct Steve Smith is an altogether different proposition. If Archer can impose his one-day form on the test arena then England will have a new bowling superstar and it’ll fill the home side with confidence that they can do a number on their old rivals and level the series before heading into the third test. If Smith and his teammates exploit Archer the way they did England’s bowlers in the third test then the weather might be England’s best ally throughout this series starting in the 2nd test with rain due.
For Australia’s bowling attack, their head coach Justin Langer has a key decision to make in this area. In the first test, he opted for the control of James Pattinson and Peter Siddle and the results were satisfactory as they allowed the likes of Nathan Lyon and Pat Cummins to work over the England batsmen. Any attack that can dominate England and leave Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazelwood on the side-lines is mightily impressive and Australia will feel extremely confident that their superb bowling attack can take the 20 necessary wickets to ensure victory.
In terms of batting, Australia will feel they have the advantage in this area even if some of their team failed in the opener. David Warner and Cameron Bancroft were disastrous for Australia and if it wasn’t for the divine intervention of Australia’s tail-end, even Smith’s heroics may not have occurred. Travis Head and Matthew Wade will be happy with their contributions but it still remains likely that Smith will be the man who will score the bulk of Australia’s runs.
For England, Rory Burns was the main man batting in their heavy defeat but he couldn’t replicate that form in the 2nd innings when he was caught off the bowling of Cummins. England did fairly well with the bat in their first innings with a number of good contributors but their batting second time around was woeful and Australia will be aware that the slightest pressure on England could see them disintegrate.
Australia to Win 13/5
Rory Burns Top England 1st Innings Batsman 4/1
Travis Head Top Australia 1st Innings Batsman 6/1
Pat Cummins Man of the Match 10/1
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