- England v Australia, 2nd Investec Test, Lord's
England can be confident of second success
Thursday, July 18, Lord's
Start time 11am
Anyone arriving back from a remote location having missed the first Test will look at the series score and shrug their shoulders in acceptance of a thoroughly anticipated result. That might have been the best way to watch the first Test because it produced an outrageously tense match. Public Health England are considering issuing a warning in light of leaping blood pressure caused by just over four days at Trent Bridge.
It need not have been the case. Twice in the match, Australia were one ball away from oblivion. At 117 for 9 their worst fears about their batting order had been realised and had Ashton Agar been given out stumped when on just 6, a first-innings deficit of 85 would surely have resulted in a crushing defeat. That almost ensued anyway, when Australia were nine down with another 80 needed to win.
England can take great confidence from the fact that they largely outplayed Australia and, in Jimmy Anderson and Ian Bell, produced the two outstanding performances of the match, something Michael Clarke admitted meant England deserved to win. Australia scrapped away with Peter Siddle and Brad Haddin and looked to be getting on top with Agar and Mitchell Starc but it transpired that they didn't have enough quality to beat England. In that regard, the first Test went to form.
England now have the chance to take a giant stride towards retaining the Investec Ashes on a ground where they have become very successful in recent years with only one Test defeat - to South Africa last summer - since the 2005 Ashes. Australia will hope to rekindle their love affair with the Home of Cricket, having enjoyed a 71-year unbeaten run there from 1938 to 2009. But only four of their squad have previously played a Test at Lord's.
Their task could be very difficult because they look short of runs and plenty will be needed during a very hot week in London. They do have potential to work with - the opening partnership of Shane Watson and Chris Rogers showed promise, Steve Smith appeared in decent touch, Phillip Hughes looked a different player against Graeme Swann and the lower-order demonstrated how dangerous they can be - but they must produce for Australia to be competitive. It will be interesting to see how they come out of Trent Bridge; buoyed at having run England so close or nervous with the knowledge that the top six averaged 28.63 per wicket?
England will know that second fact but must ensure the make-up of their bowling attack is correct. Steven Finn proved somewhat of a liability at Trent Bridge, particularly as his second-innings spell sparked a counterattack. Tim Bresnan's greater control - an economy rate of 2.96 to Finn's 3.65 - and ability with reverse-swing may have served them better and he is the main option to replace Finn at Lord's. But Finn loves Lord's, his home ground. Can England leave out a bowler who has, excluding Bangladesh, taken 20 wickets at 20.60 in four Tests at Lord's?
Players to watch
Kevin Pietersen loves Lord's. The grandeur of the place sits well with his character. It is also a jolly good pitch to bat on and Pietersen averages 61.40 in 14 Lord's Tests. He's played majestically at HQ - taking on Australia during his debut in 2005, belting South Africa for 152 in 2008 and producing one of his best innings, 202 not out against India in 2011. Pietersen was dropped from last year's grand week at Lord's and should be purring at the chance to reclaim the stage. He showed some form in a second-innings fifty at Trent Bridge. Australia beware.
The closest Australia have to Pietersen is Michael Clarke, albeit with less of a swagger but nevertheless a man for the big occasion. Clarke has to lead from the front in a manner that Alastair Cook managed for England in India - prove that runs can be scored. Australia need to know that England can be resisted and Clarke needs to be the man. He is the sole survivor from 2005, where he made a second-innings 91 to take the game away from England, and made 136 in 2009, albeit in a second innings where Australia were always sliding to defeat.
England's only decision is whether Finn keeps his place. His record at Lord's is excellent, and England like different style bowlers and Finn is the only tall quick in their squad. But Alastair Cook has said England are not afraid to change a winning side and Tim Bresnan or Graham Onions could replace Finn.
England (probable) 1 Alastair Cook (capt), 2 Joe Root, 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Kevin Pietersen, 5 Ian Bell, 6 Jonny Bairstow, 7 Matt Prior (wk), 8 Stuart Broad, 9 Graeme Swann, 10 Steven Finn, 11 James Anderson.
Australia have two main questions to ask. Do they retain Ed Cowan who looked out of it at Trent Bridge? Usman Khawaja is the spare top-order batsman. And do they tinker with the bowling attack? Jackson Bird and Ryan Harris are potential replacements, probably for Mitchell Starc, who lost his way from day three onwards. James Faulkner could also be utilised as an allrounder.
Australia (possible) 1 Shane Watson, 2 Chris Rogers, 3 Usman Khawaja, 4 Michael Clarke (capt), 5 Steve Smith, 6 Phillip Hughes, 7 Brad Haddin (wk), 8 Ashton Agar, 9 Peter Siddle, 10 James Pattinson, 11 Jackson Bird
Pitch and conditions
There's a heatwave in the UK and the temperature will remind the Australians of home. It's also likely to produce another very dry pitch but expect more pace and bounce than Trent Bridge. Lord's tracks have often got flatter as the match has progressed.
Stats and trivia
- Australia have a superb record at Lord's with 16 victories and six defeats in 36 Tests, including victories over South Africa in 1912 and Pakistan in 2010.
- From 1953 to 1985 there were only three results in 10 Tests between England and Australia, including the Centenary Test of 1980.
- England are aiming to win their 50th Test at Lord's. They have lost 28 and drawn 47 at HQ.
- Matt Prior has 37 Test dismissals at Lord's, the joint-most with Alec Stewart and Godfrey Evans.
- Steve Waugh, who scored 231 runs in four Tests at Lord's, including a century, will ring the bell before the start of play on day one.
"Obviously you try and be as loyal as you can to your players but on the other hand you always pick a side you think can win the Test."
Alastair Cook leaves his options open for England's XI in the second Test
"Darren has been outstanding in galvanising us and at bringing up together and we showed everyone that at Nottingham."
Michael Clarke, swats away any suggestions of divisions in the Australian camp
Alex Winter is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here.