Huge Test awaits Australia and England

The second Ashes Test this week is a crucial affair for both sides. More than simply deciding the score-line in this series, it will provide a clear indicator as to the direction both sides are headed. Are Australia back on the right track, or was Brisbane a rare shard of light in a dark period? Are England on the wrong path, heading back to mediocrity or worse, or was Brisbane an aberration?

Mitchell Johnson, centre, and Australia, blew England away in a storm of aggression in Brisbane. But was it a one-off?

It is tempting to conclude the latter, in both cases. Australia’s batting clicked in the second innings in Brisbane, with hundreds for Michael Clarke and David Warner, as well as a battling innings first up from Brad Haddin that did so much to restore Australian belief in the face of the now usual tumble of top and middle order wickets.

England’s batting has been, for some time now, weak looking. The best work done by England has very much been underpinned by the bowlers of late. Yet the bowlers struggled. Australia weren’t disturbed by Graeme Swann and only Stuart Broad and James Anderson looked likely to rip through Australia. That’s too much work for just two men. Troublingly, the support just isn’t there right now.

Chris Tremlett had an economical Test, but his pace was just above medium at times and he’s not going to cause anyone too many headaches on current evidence. Boyd Rankin is an option, but he struggled in the tour match in Alice Springs and Steven Finn is a shadow of the bowler who took to Test match cricket in a flurry of wickets.

The case of Finn is a worrying one for England. His pace has gone, his radar has gone and he simply can’t be considered for selection at the moment. For those calling for his inclusion, this isn’t a man bowling quickly but erratically. He’s still bowling erratically, but the pace has gone. Tremlett will get another chance in Adelaide and that won’t bother Australia one bit.

Tim Bresnan’s stock has risen as a result of being out of the side and much will be hoped of him in the third Test should his back hold up and should Tremlett struggle to make inroads into the Australian batting in Adelaide.

Australia, in their preparation for the second Test, will be hoping that the batting continues to hold up. Too often in the summer Ashes series they fell apart, notably at Durham where they tossed away the winning platform laid down by Warner and Chris Rogers.

In Mitchell Johnson they possess a man who has rediscovered his mojo and intimidating style. He almost won the first Test on his own with a blend of aggressive bowling and aggressive sledging. He’s done this before, mind, so he will be keen to prove Brisbane wasn’t a one-off like Perth was during England’s last visit.

Ryan Harris and Peter SIddle are ever reliable, when fit, but Australia will doubtless have been absolutely delighted that the much maligned, not least in Australia, Nathan Lyon comprehensively out-bowled the much vaunted Swann.

Was Brisbane a one-off or was it a changing of the guard? For England, will the second Test be like it was in Mumbai or like it was in Abu Dhabi, with a famous win or another hammering following a first Test thumping? One thing is for certain, the result in Brisbane was not expected and it has blown this series wide open.

By Miles Reucroft

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3 comments on “Huge Test awaits Australia and England

  1. Just cant see us getting back in to this series at the moment, not unless our bats can suddenly gel and give a score big enough for our bowlers to defend. Maybe if we can pull a draw out of adelaide and bring Bresnan back in time for the third we can turn it round. Should still be exciting though. Do you think Panasar will make an appearance at all?

  2. In my view, the bowling is at least as big a problem as the batting.
    The case in favour of a 4 man bowling attack is much stronger if those bowlers are all world class. This isn’t the case with England. Over-bowling is a likelihood and the result of that is a loss of effectiveness and a greater risk of injury.
    At present and in Australian conditions I would select a five man bowling attack. The only issue should be whether to select one or two spinners. In Adelaide I would bowl Anderson,Broad,Bresnan,Stokes and Swann. The addition of Bresnan and Stokes partially compensates for the loss of the sixth batsman. Prior should play but a further failure might require a re-evaluation of his contribution to the team.
    My team for Adelaide, in batting order: Cook,Carberry,Root,Pieterson,Bell,Prior,Stokes,Bresnan,Broad,Swann,Anderson.

    I hope for the best. To be realistic, ‘the best’ at Adelaide will be a draw.

  3. With the dust settling on the Adelaide test, England must be exploring the deepest aspects of soul searching, desperately seeking answers to rescue their Ashes campaign from a fast sinking HSS Cook. They have been devastatingly outplayed by an Australian side consisting of three batsmen in their top five, averaging less than 27 after two tests. England’s big weapons in Anderson and Swann have been largely ineffective and Broad to date has been the single danger posed to the Australian batting. The loss of Trott post-Brisbane test has exposed a batting line up much weaker than most woould have expected. As Australia reflected from the English series and found positives in the efforts of Harris and Rogers, the surprising success of Smith added to the class of Clarke, England now much draw on the few positives they can find. Root at three showed plenty of fight and ticker and Stokes’ debut was promising. Broad is a genuine spearhead and Prior finally made runs after months of missing out. Cadbury looks at home at the top of the order and Bell wont play as poor a shot as he did in the second innings in Adelaide for the rest of his test career.
    Perth will be a very telling test and it is a ‘result’ pitch and for 35 years, not a good result for England. The English side has been a very good side for a number of years but the signs of a rapid fall are strong and momentum, both positive and negative, is an incredibly strong force. We should know in a week’s time if Cook and co. can repel that force.