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The Ashes: England vs Australia 2nd Test Preview

Written by Maverick White for @HollywoodbetsFollow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!


England vs Australia | Thursday 18 July – Monday 22 July | Lord’s | 12:00

It seems fitting that a test marred by uncertain use of the DRS and poor on-field umpiring decisions ended on a hopeful gamble by England to remove Brad Haddin. After the faintest of inside edges interested only the men behind the bat, the man handling it not even aware of the touch, captain Alastair Cook referred it to the third umpire who signalled the end of Haddin’s defiance, and the test. Australia had proved they were up for the challenge in England, fighting to the wire time and again after the match looked all sewn up. While they can be proud of the achievement of coming within 14 runs of their counterparts, their top order largely failed again and the onus was on the lower-order to keep Australia in the game. It has been a narrative prevalent in Australian cricket in recent times but will surely lose its lustre as the series continues.

To Win:
England 19/20
Draw 9/4
Australia 3/1

England
It wasn’t as convincing a victory as the hosts would have expected prior to the series, or when they had the Australians 177/9 in the first innings. It seemed a combination of nerves and lethargy that kept England trailing by 65 runs as the second part of the test commenced, and it was the experience and stubbornness of Ian Bell with a top notch century, the only one of the match, that was the difference between the two sides. He found support in Kevin Pietersen at first, later from Stuart Broad, reprieved by a ludicrous Aleem Dar decision. But as has been the case in the English setup for some time now, the burden of taking enough wickets to win the match fell squarely on the shoulders of James Anderson. While he made an uncertain start to his career, perceived to have been elevated into the international game prematurely, through hard work, dedication and a natural knack for bending swing, Anderson is second only to Dale Steyn on the podium of the world’s best fast bowlers. While the argument of who is best will continue long into the foreseeable future, there is no doubt that Anderson leads the English attack and nowadays, Alastair Cook cannot afford him to have a bad day. Broad looks fragile, uncomfortable in delivery stride and unthreatening for the most part. Swann, since recent injury, has lost his edge and should’ve created a lot more pressure on a pitch that seemed to suit him. Prior to the series, Swann may have been considered a potential difference between the two sides. Agar, in particular, made sure this was not the case in the first test. Finn has flattered to deceive and may be facing another axing with Tim Bresnan making a strong case for a return. If Anderson breaks down, Cook is all but out of options for wickets.

Australia
So near, yet so far. Michael Clarke was correct in saying that the side could leave Trent Bridge with their heads held high, and to Clarke, where the runs in the side come from doesn’t matter. As long as the runs are on the board, he is a happy man. This may not appear a problem to the casual observer, especially with the chipper nature in which Clarke lauds his side’s fighting spirit, but it is a well known fact to those who know it well that when your lower-order is consistently outscoring your top order, a balanced performance is out of the question. Unless Australia rectify these wrongs, they will be horribly outclassed for the majority of the series. Clarke needs a score, as do Watson and Cowan. Rogers can be proud of the way he integrated himself back into the international game and Steven Smith looks to be a handy addition if he can perform and fluidly as he did in the first innings on a consistent basis. After Agar’s conduct with the bat, he’ll likely keep his place but Australia will require more from him with the ball. The pace bowlers did a pretty good job all things considered and none deserve to lose their place in this test. Ultimately, it was the factor that I outlined at the end of the preview to the previous test that was the cause of Australian demise. They will continue to battle to keep the intensity of their cricket at its sharpest for the duration of the test match.

Venue
With the English summer being a bright one, sunny days are expected for the majority of the test. While this raises the odds of the of the batsmen etching their name into the Lord’s honours board, it also means that it’s likely to be another dry and crumbly track. The slope will offer it’s usual challenge to bowlers and reward those who use it to their advantage. Another good contest between bat and ball should prevail.

BEST: Top England 1st Innings Batsman, Kevin Pietersen 7/2
If you’re looking for a seasoned campaigner that oozes runs in big matches at this ground, look no further than KP. At 7/2, the price is right, and no one plays the slope better than the England number four. Back him for another rousing century.

VERDICT: England 19/20
England lost to South Africa at Lord’s last year, but you’ll have to travel back thirteen tests and eight years to find the last time England lost at the ground. Interestingly enough, it was to Australia in the Ashes, but I don’t see it occurring this time around. While I again foresee a tight encounter, England should have enough to squeeze the victory once again.

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