Big Picture

Are you ready for round two? The opening of this Ashes delivered everything it had promised. Four more matches of that level of exhilaration will be a test for everyone involved.

Given all the talk of the past week, where both teams have had some downtime, it would be easy to think England are the side 1-0 up. But courtesy of the partnership between Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon, a stand that will go down in Ashes folklore, it is Australia who hold that advantage and, for now, are quite happy for England to say what they like.

However, they also know the result could easily have been different. It probably would have been if England had held their chances, or even if Stuart Broad had not bowled Usman Khawaja with a no-ball. No one is getting carried away that Bazball has been shut down but the opening Test of an Ashes generally shows the way (albeit comparisons with 2005 abound).

So to Lord’s, and five days that will likely decide if Australia can take a vice-like grip – and put themselves on course for a series win in England since 2001 – or whether the home side can draw level and set up a potentially great series.

England, for all their talk, and perhaps that’s why they are doing it, have more questions to answer than Australia. Is it right to go without a frontline spinner? Is there enough point-of-difference in the attack? How much can Ben Stokes‘ knee go through? Is Ben Duckett a sitting duck to Australia’s quicks outside off stump? Is attack the only way to go?

One thing we know, if the players are to be taken at their word, is that they will respond to defeat by trying to be even more aggressive. It was a similar message put forward after the loss to South Africa last year which, ironically, was then followed by (relatively speaking) one of their more restrained batting performances, led by a captain’s innings from Stokes at Old Trafford.

Australia believe they have considerable room for improvement. England may rue not winning a Test where Marnus Labuschagne and Steven Smith made just 35 runs between them. At Lord’s they are also going in with a base of knowledge they did not have before Edgbaston, although their camp is content with how the tactics played out under pressure.

The marker for this series has been laid down. What happens next is really anyone’s guess. And that’s a tantalising prospect.

Form guide

(last five matches, most recent first)
England LWLWW
Australia WWDWL

In the spotlight

England’s response to defeat. What has been put together under Stokes and Brendon McCullum has clearly worked wonders, but it can’t be unquestionable. Last summer they bounced back against South Africa but the tourists had a poor batting line-up. Their only other defeat since then was the one-run loss to New Zealand in Wellington. Hitting back after going 1-0 down at the start of a home Ashes is something entirely different and the biggest test of the ethos (or cult?) that Bazball has created.

Labuschagne was twice done by Broad’s new outswinger at Edgbaston, collecting his first golden duck in Test cricket in the process. In his last 17 innings he has made just two fifties at an average of 33 which is considerably below the extraordinary high standards he has set. Should he find his groove at Lord’s it would come at the ground where his Test career took off four years ago after he was parachuted into the team as Smith’s concussion sub.

Team news

England have changed the balance of their side by calling up pace bowler Josh Tongue to replace Moeen Ali. Tongue took a five-wicket haul on his debut against Ireland at Lord’s earlier this season. They have backed James Anderson and Stuart Broad to get through another Test.

England 1 Zak Crawley, 2 Ben Duckett, 3 Ollie Pope, 4 Joe Root, 5 Harry Brook, 6 Ben Stokes (capt), 7 Jonny Bairstow, 8 Stuart Broad, 9 Ollie Robinson, 10 Josh Tongue, 11 James Anderson

Australia have narrowed down a 12 with the final decision likely to be between Mitchell Starc and Scott Boland. England took Boland at nearly six-an-over at Edgbaston but the grass on the surface at Lord’s could keep him in the frame.

Australia 1 David Warner, 2 Usman Khawaja, 3 Marnus Labuschagne, 4 Steven Smith, 5 Travis Head, 6 Cameron Green, 7 Alex Carey (wk), 8 Pat Cummins (capt), 9 Scott Boland/Mitchell Starc, 10 Nathan Lyon, 11 Josh Hazlewood

Pitch and conditions

There was a significant green tinge on the surface ahead of the game, but that is pretty normal for Lord’s. There is the expectation of more pace and bounce than Edgbaston provided. The forecast is fine for the opening day but there is a chance of some interruptions after that.

Stats and trivia

  • Nathan Lyon, who becomes the eighth player to put together 100 consecutive Tests, needs five wickets to reach 500
  • Stokes needs five wickets to reach 200 in Tests
  • Quotes

    “Cricket’s a fickle game sometimes. He was the No.1 batter in the world then Broady nicks him off twice. Players like that don’t miss out too often. Broady produced two unbelievable deliveries and it’s always great to see the back of Marnus Labuschagne and Steven Smith early but quality players always find a way to bounce back. We won’t be reading too much into it but it’s nice knowing there might be something there for Marnus.”
    Ben Stokes on Broad’s success

    “My phone went crazy for a couple of days. These Ashes series, like World Cup finals, you realise how many people love cricket and how much it means to them. Hearing everyone’s stories about where they were when they found out what happened, or watching at all hours of the day is pretty cool.”
    Pat Cummins on the reaction to Edgbaston

    Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo


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