Australia drew first blood in The Ashes and now they head to Lord’s for the second Test on Wednesday looking to assume real dominance in the series with arch-rivals England, who will be eager to bounce back immediately.
This Ashes series carried plenty of hype into its beginning and that was fully justified with a fascinating clash of styles in the opening Test and it will be interesting to see how this second match pans out in London.
To be fair to England, they did exactly what they promised to do in the opening game at Edgbaston but unlike in previous matches they were not ruthless enough and paid the price. There was much talk about the first innings declaration but the reality is they had to take nearer to 30 wickets and that is something that needs to change. Any chances they create in this second game must be snaffled if the home side are to head to Headingley all square.
If anything, we can expect England to go even harder in this match. They have had a taste of what Australia are bringing to the party both with the ball and in their defensive field settings so they will have had more than a week to formulate a counter plan which makes them even more dangerous in this match. What will be interesting is whether they switch their side to give themselves the best chance of taking the 20 wickets which will be of paramount importance here.
Given the cocky, bordering on arrogant way that Australia usually play their cricket, they took everyone by surprise with the defensive, patient approach they took at Edgbaston. They can argue that it worked because they won the match but the missed chances England spurned was as much a part of that as any tactics that the tourists employed. It will be interesting to see if that was just a trap or whether they will persist with it throughout the series.
The big positive for Australia from that opening game is that they were able to come out on top in it despite Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith, the best two batters in the world heading into the series, scored a grand total of 35 runs in their four innings. They don’t tend to fail too often so if they are winning without them contributing they are going to be hard to beat when they do. There is also more to come from them with the ball so Australia are sitting pretty heading into game two.
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As they always do, England have confirmed their XI for the match ahead of the toss and will make one change to the team which went down at Edgbaston. That sees Josh Tongue replacing Moeen Ali leaving Joe Root as the sole spin option.
Australia are yet to name their team but they are widely expected to bring Mitchell Starc back into their team. It remains to be seen whether it is Josh Hazlewood or Scott Boland who sits out. Nathan Lyon will play a 100th consecutive Test if he is selected.
After a couple of winners at Edgbaston I’ll go with a couple more bets for this second Test match with the first of those being the performance of the Australia captain Pat Cummins. He has a line of 110.5 which he covered easily with a total of 162 in the first Test despite not taking a wicket in the first innings. That track in Birmingham offered nothing for the bowlers but there is expected to be more pace and bounce in this one which will bring Cummins right into the game. Even though he didn’t take a wicket in the first innings of the match in the first game, Cummins still had this line covered before the end of the third innings of it and that tells me there is a lot of upside to his game here. On a pitch which will suit his bowling a lot more and with decent batting potential should we need some runs to help cover I like the over here.
The other bet I like is for Jonny Bairstow to lead the England run scoring in the first innings. Had it not been for the century from Joe Root at Edgbaston, Bairstow would have claimed top scoring honours and with England guaranteeing to go even harder at Australia it might make their top order more vulnerable while playing into the hands of Bairstow who is one of the most aggressive batters in the world. His impact might be lessened a touch with no Moeen Ali coming in at eight but Stuart Broad has shown he can hold an end up for Bairstow to tee off for a while if he is left with the tail. At 8/1 he looks a decent price to take the game to the Aussies and top score in the first dig.
Back P.Cummins’ Performance – Over 110.5pts for a 3/10 stake at 1.83 with Betfair
Back J.Bairstow Top England 1st Inns Batter for a 1/10 stake at 9.00 with William Hill
Back him here: