England vs Australia, 2nd Ashes Test, Lord’s: Preview, predictions, likely XIs

Joe Root Tim Paine Ashes

Round two of five will start on Wednesday, August 14, when England and Australia clash at Lord’s. England have had time since that big loss in the first Test to take it all in, figure out what went wrong and where to improve, and work towards that end. The second Test promises to be a lot tougher for Australia.

For starters, there is the Jofra Archer factor to consider. The paceman is clear of injury and, after plenty of waiting, is set to make his debut in Test cricket. He has a fine return in first-class cricket, and claims the red-ball format is his favourite. He is expected to charge Steven Smith and pepper him with bouncers, and that battle will be one to watch out for.

Jack Leach is another candidate to start. He replaced Moeen Ali – hapless in the first Test – in the squad and will likely make his debut on Wednesday. There is talk that Smith is weak against left-arm spin, but while the Australian camp have denied all that, this will be another battle to keep ones eyes peeled on.

While England will hope their changes can make a difference, Australia won’t change a thing. They have a winning unit, and despite some doubt regarding the batting, it’s a matter of David Warner finding form. Smith and Matthew Wade are already among runs, and if Warner can join them, Australia will have a high chance of making it 2-0.

All in all, it’s a mouth-watering clash.

Head to head

Cricket’s oldest rivalry – their first clash was in 1877 – has come a long way, and in 347 matches over the years, it’s Australia who are ahead in the rivalry, with 145 wins to England’s 108. The difference is a lot closer over the last ten years, with England winning 10 to Australia’s 13 in 27 matches.

Key players

England (Jofra Archer): The home side were severely handicapped by Jimmy Anderson’s injury early in the first Test, and as the man to replace England’s most successful bowler, there’s plenty of pressure on Archer. However, he has only recently shown – in the World Cup final, no less – that pressure has little effect on him. Can he transform that cool to the riguours and grinds of the Test arena?

Steven Smith (Australia): The former Australian skipper was the difference between the two sides in Edgbaston. Had it not been for his 144, which rescued Australia from 122/8, it might well have been England who won the first Test. England will need to scalp him early if they are to get back into this series.

Likely XIs

England: Rory Burns, Jason Roy, Joe Root (c), Joe Denly, Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Jack Leach, Chris Woakes, Stuart broad, Jofra Archer

Australia: Cameron Bancroft, David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Steven Smith, Travis Head, Matthew Wade, Tim Paine (c/wk), Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Peter Siddle, Nathan Lyon

Prediction

England to eke out a victory and make the series a thriller.