After the Gabba, the two teams have arrived in Adelaide for the Second Ashes Test in very different positions. Australia, unsurprisingly, are full of confidence after a complete display in Brisbane saw them score a comprehensive nine-wicket win. England, in contrast, know there is much they need to improve on, but may yet be quietly confident that they can do some damage under the lights with the pink ball. As always, we here at Last Word on Cricket are here to offer our preview and prediction for the match.
Second Ashes Test Preview and Prediction
As mentioned above, Australia had a very good game when they last played a test match. But that was the first match they had played since losing to India at the same venue to lose the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in January. That series was a huge disappointment for the Australians, who were beaten in their own backyard for the second time in a row by the Indians, despite the host of absences in the tourists side and the relative strength of their own on paper.
England have been rather busier than their hosts. They arrived on Australian shores having played 12 test matches already in 2021, away in Sri Lanka and India and at home against New Zealand and India. They won the series in Sri Lanka on the back of Joe Root’s heroics, but there has been relatively little to celebrate since then. They were well-beaten in India, lost at home to New Zealand and were trailing again to India at home when their visitors ended the series early after a covid outbreak in their camp.
Such changes as Australia make will be enforced by injury. Josh Hazlewood, a key cog in their seam attack, has been ruled out with a side strain with the New South Welshman set to be replaced by Western Australia’s Jhye Richardson. Richardson has been a handful so far in the Sheffield Shield this season and he is not without international experience with two tests under his belt, as well as 13 ODIs and 14 T20s. Still, the absence of Hazlewood will be a blow to the hosts.
Fortunately, David Warner, who scored a scratchy 94 in the first innings and did not bat in the second innings, looks set to play with captain Pat Cummins telling the media that he has recovered from the bruised ribs he suffered in the first game. Marcus Harris will partner him at the top, with Marnus Labuschagne batting at three and Steve Smith four. Travis Head, Cameron Green and Alex Carey will comprise the middle order, whilst Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon complete the attack.
For England, the headline news is that James Anderson and Stuart Broad are back. Both men have been included in the provisional 12-man squad ahead of the match and it would be a significant surprise if both do not play. Anderson, in particular, enjoyed the conditions in Adelaide when he last played there, picking up a five-wicket haul, whilst Broad will doubtless be hoping that his mastery over Australia’s left-handers, Warner included, can be replicated in Australian conditions.
Mark Wood, who looked threatening in Brisbane and took Smith’s wicket, has been rested, but Jack Leach, who was targeted in brutal fashion by the Australian batters, has kept his place. So too has Chris Woakes, despite looking the least effective of the England quicks at the Gabba. It is unlikely that both will play, with Leach perhaps most likely to be axed. The batting line-up, however, is unchanged despite embarrassing collapses in both digs.
The conditions at the Adelaide Oval for the Second Ashes Test should suit England better than those at the Gabba. But the extent of that should not be overstated. Australia have an excellent record in day-night tests at this venue. In fact, they have not yet lost one. And whilst Anderson and Broad will be more threatening when the pink-ball swings under lights, so too will Cummins, Starc and Richardson. The return to form of Nathan Lyon may also prove important.
Ultimately, however, when two excellent attacks are on display, it is typically the quality of the batting that proves decisive. On the basis of the first test, and indeed recent history, there can be little doubt that Australia have the edge. Root is probably the best batsman in the world at the moment, but there is no one else for England to rely on. Australia have Warner, Labuschagne and Smith, whilst Travis Head is fresh from scoring an excellent century at the Gabba. Australia should have the edge again.
Prediction: Australia win.
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