Stuart Broad looked cooked. James Anderson wasn’t given the second new ball and looked grumpy. The opening Test at Edgbaston was decided by very fine margins, but it felt as though England’s pace attack ran out of steam for the final push.

There has been a reasonable break ahead of the second Test at Lord’s. But if England go unchanged, there’s an opportunity for Australia to put more miles in their legs and see how two ageing greats can manage, although it’s worth stating their superb records at a ground where Anderson has 117 wickets at 24.58 and Broad 108 at 27.42.

Of the fast bowlers on show at Edgbaston, Broad, who had an outstanding match, bowled the most overs with 44, followed by Ollie Robinson on 40.4. Then came Anderson (38) before we reach the first Australian with Pat Cummins on 32.2. Scott Boland and Josh Hazlewood did not get out of their 20s. Cameron Green only bowled eight, while even Ben Stokes, with his bad knee, sent down 14.

They are largely small differences at the moment, but could soon add up, especially with Lord’s and Headingley being back-to-back Tests separated by only a three-day break. That is where the respective pace-bowling depths, and endurance of those who play on through, will be on show.

One byproduct of England’s rapid batting approach is their innings tend not to give the quick bowlers lengthy downtime – they bowled on each day at Edgbaston, albeit only briefly in the first after Stokes’ declaration. By contrast, Australia are happy to bat time, although it is worth noting that 386 runs in 116.1 overs is certainly not slow, even if it doesn’t match up to Bazball and led to Robinson questioning their approach.

“Potentially, for sure,” Cummins said about the prospect of wearing down England’s attack. “I’ve played a lot of Tests back-to-back and you certainly feel much fresher when in the first Test match, you’ve had a big gap in between both innings or you only bowled 30 as opposed to 40, 50. Our number one goal when we go out there is to score runs and it doesn’t matter how long it takes.”

Australia may have a change to their attack at Lord’s with Mitchell Starc in the running to replace Boland. It would also be a surprise if Michael Neser did not remain with the squad for the rest of the series when the squad is reassessed after this Test.

The other key figure Australia have is Nathan Lyon, who will be playing his 100th consecutive Test at Lord’s. Although he finished with an almost identical economy rate to Moeen Ali (4.32 to 4.34) at Edgbaston, Lyon was a regular wicket-taking threat and claimed eight in the game.

“It’s a huge privilege captaining him, it’s so easy – just chuck him down one end and he basically just bowls all day,” Cummins said. “In all conditions, being one of the four bowlers that get picked is just hugely impressive. Just the way he’s a man for all conditions, keeps getting better, so reliable.”

“I actually really enjoy bowling here using the slope to our advantage as bowlers. I think you can bowl with it and hopefully spin it.”

Nathan Lyon on bowling at Lord’s

The Lord’s pitch may not offer him much. There have been 12 wickets to spin in 13 County Championship innings this season, while Jack Leach went at four-and-a-half an over in the second innings against Ireland when the surface flattened out. But it’s a place Lyon has enjoyed bowling on his previous visits in 2015 and 2019, having been omitted in 2013 – the last Test match he did not play – making use of the slope in both directions, even though his six wickets have cost 41.66.

“I actually really enjoy bowling here using the slope to our advantage as bowlers,” he said. “I think you can bowl with it and hopefully spin [it] more or you can bowl up and use the angles and hopefully bring in both edges. I don’t think it’s one end got to be the spinners’ end or the fast bowlers’ end. You’ve got to have that ability to adjust and really enjoy that challenge of bowling with it or against type thing. So I think we can use it as a weapon up our sleeves.

“[But] we’re not sure what the wicket is going to look like on day one, whether it’s going to be overcast or whatnot. So if the seamers do work and I don’t have to do much and that’s all well and good, but I’m happy to put my hand up in the tough situations and have a crack.”

Lyon and Cummins were also central in the cat-and-mouse that went on with England’s batters at Edgbaston, particularly in the second innings when the lead was all-important, and they both bowled impressively. Meanwhile, on the opening day, Australia’s largely defensive fields were much scrutinised but Cummins indicated he would remain happy playing the long game even if it meant England could sometimes make the running.

“You’ve got a problem solver out there, which is great fun as a captain and as a bowler,” Cummins said. “It’s just maybe a bit more like T20 and one-day game, where the problems that you try to solve are a bit more like that, as opposed to trying to create something from nothing, which sometimes you have to do in a Test match.

“I thought we managed to tempos really well last week,” he added. “When we had to attack, we really went for it, but there’s other times where we just had to suck it up and wait.”

One win does not mean they have got it all right, but another one at Lord’s this week and it will be hard to question their approach.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo


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