As it turned out, a week was indeed a long time in cricket. Australia roared back to their old ways, romping home by 405 runs, inflicting a humiliating defeat on England and squared the series 1-1 at Lord's. Now they will look to repeat their performance from London in the third Test of the series at Edgbaston, England's fortress where they have a 24-8 win-loss record, their best home venue where they have played a minimum of five Tests.
Australia's Chris Rogers during a training session yesterday. Pic/AFP
The talk during the first two Tests mainly was about the playing surface, and the lack of pace and bounce. Both teams showed that they are capable of winning on such surfaces but with exhortation and general dissatisfaction of England management with the pitches at Cardiff and at Lord's, might see the first lively surface of the series welcoming the players, with an even covering of grass assisting the seamers.
After Australia went in with couple of changes at Lord's after their sobering loss in the first Test, it is now England's turn to rejig their line up. Gary Ballance has been dropped and Ian Bell, on his home ground where he has never scored a Test hundred, will move up to No. 3 while Joe Root slides in to No. 4 allowing Jonny Bairstow to fill in it at No. 5.
England's top order has struggled for a while now, being regularly three down for peanuts, but they have showed faith in continuing with Adam Lyth partnering Alastair Cook at the top. Australia have shown faith in continuing with Peter Nevill as their wicket-keeper, a move that could signal the end of Brad Haddin's Australia career. Chris Rogers appears to have recovered sufficiently from the dizzy spells that made him retire hurt during the second innings at Lord's and will most certainly walk out with David Warner, when their to bat comes.
Michael Clarke, the lone Aussie survivor from the epic Edgbaston Test from the 2005 Ashes, will look at the happier memory of being 103* in 2009, to get back in to the run scoring form to take the burden away from his top three. However, even if he doesn't make many runs, the Aussie Skipper is confident that his bowlers are more than capable of putting on a repeat performance on what seems to be a more helpful pitch.
Although two days before the Test, the pitch seemed to resemble the bouncy track of Brisbane, it is expected that a lot of the grass cover would be gone by the time the first delivery is bowled. There has been rain around the area and even cut short practice sessions, the weather generally is expected to be fair throughout the Test. The groundstaff used Cannabis lamps in the lead-up to help the pitch provide higher bounce.
So far in the series, both teams have followed the "win toss, bat first, win Test" routine and it would be no surprise toss will play a big role here again. That would be even more significant if there is sufficient grass cover allowing seam movement which might tempt the captains to bowl first.
Joe Root, the England batting safety net and vice-captain, appeared confident on the eve of the Test and assured his team mates will carry no scars of the mauling at Lord's. That'd better be true, otherwise Australia will walkaway with 2-1 series in the blink of an eye.
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