After an encouraging start, England limped to a resounding 251-run defeat to a Steve Smith-inspired Australia in the first Ashes Test of 2019.
The onus is therefore on Joe Root’s side to bounce back at Lord’s, the scene of their extraordinary Cricket World Cup triumph just a month ago.
Jofra Archer, one of that day’s heroes, is poised for a Test debut, providing a much-needed boost after Jimmy Anderson was sidelined with a calf injury sustained at Edgbaston.
After the World Cup was disrupted by unprecedented summer rainfall, the Test in Birmingham remained relatively unaffected.
England’s 251-run loss in the first Ashes Test has changed the perception of both pundits and fans towards the series.
While the hosts were considered favourites before a ball was bowled in the five-match Test series, Australia have now got the edge due to their counter-attacking style of play, and are clear favourites this time.
The absence of James Anderson is a body blow for England. It is not certain whether or not Anderson will be able to take part in the series any further. The technique of Jonny Bairstow is another concern.
England have already announced their 12-member squad for the second Test and it makes things quite clear about the direction in which the team is thinking.
Jack Leach is an obvious replacement for Moeen Ali who looked lacklustre in the first Test. Leach provides England a left-arm option against their tormentor Steve Smith, who has not had great returns against left-arm spin.
Stuart Broad’s form will boost the confidence in the English camp, but he will need Chris Woakes and Jofra Archer to compliment himself in crucial junctures of the game.
The only option that England will have to consider is between Joe Denly and Sam Curran. While Denly is a better middle-order batsman, if England decide to rejig their batting order and slot in Sam Curran in the lower middle-order, he can be handy.
Curran can nick off a couple with the ball as well. But, given that the pitch at Lord’s is dry, Denly can also fill in a few overs with his leg spin.
For Australia, it is a problem of plenty more than anything else. Both Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc were benched in the first Test and one of them is expected to make the playing XI at Lord’s.
Mitchell Starc looked in good rhythm in the practice match against Worcestershire and makes a case for his inclusion on a dry pitch. However, that James Pattinson plays a similar role does not go in his favour.
While the Test debut of Jofra Archer gives a reason to the England fans to be excited, their batting does not inspire the same.
PROBABLE PLAYING XI
England – Joe Root (c), Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Jack Leach, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes
Australia– David Warner, Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Steven Smith, Travis Head, Matthew Wade, Tim Paine (c, wk), James Pattinson, Pat Cummins, Peter Siddle, Nathan Lyon
England have a lot of work to do after they failed to capitalise on a brilliant start to the first Ashes Test when they had Australia struggling at 122/8 but Steve Smith proved to be their nemesis in not only the first innings but also in the second too.
Australia managed to bounce back from a dreadful first two sessions on day 1 to eventually claim a thumping victory in the first Ashes Test match of the series with Steve Smith his side’s saviour.
Smith was the mainstay of a poor first innings as he scored 144 which was more than the rest of his side could muster combined and he then added an almost identical score in the second innings as he posted 142.
With that feat, Smith became just the second man this century to score hundreds in both innings of an Ashes Test after Matthew Hayden achieved the same in 2002 and he is the man England will be desperate to remove cheaply in what is likely to be an unchanged line-up.
England need a quick response here in this second Ashes Test or could find themselves with a mountain to climb. After a superb opening two sessions against Australia in the first Test, the home side were humbled by Steve Smith’s brilliance.
They will need to find a way to remove him early if they are to get on top of the Australians.
The Lord’s pitch should offer the likes of Jofra Archer and Chris Woakes plenty to work with but with their batting line-up still looking fragile, Australia could win the match.
Team Cricwizz predicts that Australia would beat England and take a 2-0 lead at Lord’s provided rain does not play spoilsport.