Australia v England: 2nd Ashes Test, begins Friday 3/12 – 10:30am (Local Time) at Adelaide Oval
TEN THINGS WE LEARNT THE FIRST TEST:
- The two sides are extremely even, but England no longer fears Australia in Australian conditions.
- Mitchell Johnson is out of sorts and is in desperate need of a break from the game after taking 0-170 over two innings.
- James Anderson bowled without luck during Australia’s first innings, but is certainly a much improved bowler from the last time he toured here back in 2006/07
- Michael Hussey still has what it takes to make big scores at test level after a breathtaking 195.
- Alistair Cook’s man-of-the-match performance proves he has matured greatly since 2006/07 and now understands when and when not to play at a ball outside the off stump.
- Ian Bell has changed his mentality as a batsman and his more aggressive approach makes him a dangerous threat for the rest of the series.
- Peter Siddle is an exciting bowler to watch in full-flight and can change the course of a match despite his lack of ability to move the ball in the air.
- Graeme Swann still has a lot more to prove if he wants to leave Australia still with the title of ‘best current spin bowler in the world’.
- Australian fielding standards have dropped quite significantly after numerous missed opportunities early on in England’s second innings.
- This series is likely to be decided in the fifth test.
Marcus North has endured an inconsistent 2010 season and his spot in the side is now in grave danger. The left-handed batsman has averaged just fewer than 20 runs per innings over his last nine attempts at bat. However if you take out a score of 128 against India in Bangalore, that average becomes significantly more embarrassing – 6.25 from eight innings. There is no doubt the 31 year-old can perform when the pressure is on with scores of 125*, 96 and 110 during the last Ashes series in 2009. But the gap between his best and worst form is far too great at the moment and he needs to string some consistent scores together. North should thrive on the flat Adelaide Oval pitch in and a big score will not only boost his own confidence but also boost his team’s chances of forcing a result.
The last Ashes test match played in Adelaide four years ago was a truly memorable one for Paul Collingwood. Under an enormous amount of pressure, the now 34-year-old made his highest test score of 206 and shared in a mammoth 310-run partnership with Kevin Pieterson. He toiled for over eight and a half hours against a first-class Australian bowling attack which included Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath. Like North, Collingwood is out-of-form, averaging 6.83 from his past six test innings. However he is a tough and nuggetty batsman and will enjoy the fact he has fond memories of the venue.
PITCH AND CONDITIONS:
You will hear the name Damian Hough a fair bit over the next few days because he is the man who has replaced Les Burdett as the curator of Adelaide Oval. Burdett was known for producing batsmen-friendly wickets over his time and Hough has confirmed his inaugural test deck will be “a traditional Adelaide Oval pitch”. Therefore it is almost guaranteed that whoever wins the toss will bat first because batsmen are almost certain to enjoy a flat and lifeless pitch over the first two to three days. Some more natural characteristics should start to come through during the fourth and fifth days, meaning the pitch should dry out for the spinners and a few cracks will open up for the seam bowlers. But with the weather set to be hot and sunny for all five days, batsmen are likely to dominate the majority of the test.
There has already been an incredible amount of scrutiny and opinion on the makeup of the Australian team for the second test. However selectors have opted to persist with the same team from the ‘Gabba and include Ryan Harris and Doug Bollinger in a 13-man squad. Johnson needs a rest in order to regain some much needed confidence, however the Australian selectors are known for being persistent with out-of-form players. If the media and the majority of Australian fans had their way, Johnson would be out within an instant and Bollinger would be the man to replace him. That would be a logical like-for-like swap as both men are left-arm fast bowlers.
Harris is one of the most in-form bowlers in Australia and has had plenty of experience on the Adelaide Oval pitch after spending a few years playing for South Australia. But Australia would lose some uniqueness from their attack if he replaced Johnson because he is a right-armed bowler like Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus. Harris’ only chance of being selected for this test is if Hilfenhaus is dropped for his lack of aggression, which is unlikely to occur because he is a very economical bowler.
Michael Clarke is apparently over a back injury – despite a very scratchy nine runs off 50 balls in the first test – while North is lucky to keep his spot in the side despite one run in Brisbane. Here is how the Australians will likely line-up:
- Shane Watson
- Simon Katich
- Ricky Ponting (C)
- Michael Clarke
- Michael Hussey
- Marcus North
- Brad Haddin (WK)
- Xavier Doherty
- Peter Siddle
- Ben Hilfenhaus/Ryan Harris
- Doug Bollinger/Mitchell Johnson
The England team seems pretty settled despite failing to force a result in Brisbane. Their batting order seems to be right and their bowling attack works well in tandem. Steve Finn – the newest member of the team – was always going to be the English player critiqued the most in Brisbane. But after taking six wickets in Australia’s first innings, his spot in the side is secure. Here is how the English will like line-up:
- Andrew Strauss (C)
- Alistair Cook
- Jonathon Trott
- Kevin Pieterson
- Paul Collingwood
- Ian Bell
- Matt Prior (WK)
- Stuart Broad
- Graeme Swann
- James Anderson
- Steve Finn
WHO WINS THE SECOND TEST?
The last time these two teams played a test in Adelaide, England made 6/551 in their first innings and Australia replied with 513 in their first innings. Somehow, Australia found a way to win an amazing test match, mainly thanks to the heroics of Warne, McGrath and Brett Lee on the final day. But it’s fair to say Australia’s current bowling attack is nowhere near the class of those three and will struggle to replicate their almost superhuman achievements.
If anything, England’s bowling attack seems more likely to trouble Australia’s batting line-up. However they lack an all-rounder who can bowl up to 20 overs an innings, where as Australia have a world-class one in Shane Watson. Bollinger or Harris (or both) simply need to play if Australia wants any chance of winning this test because they are aggressive bowlers who are always looking for wickets.
Batting partnerships are especially crucial in Adelaide. Once two batsmen are set on such a friendly pitch, it becomes very frustrating for bowlers to stay patient and stick to their predetermined plan. This is especially evident from the Collingwood-Pieterson partnership back in 2006.
But with the pitch set to heavily favour the batsmen, it’s hard to see either team taking 20 wickets for the match. This one has ‘draw’ written all over it – which means Australia’s chances of regaining the Ashes will be made even more difficult.
MOST MATCH RUNS:
Paul Collingwood ($16.00)