After a comprehensive First Ashes Test victory against Australia in Cardiff just a week previously, there were suggestions among some media outlets that English cricket had been transformed by a bolder batting approach at the crease. It was also argued that the Australians may also be a beaten team with the hosts expected to complete a successful series victory and so regain the Ashes. Yet, while a week can be a long time in politics, fortunes can also change in the world of cricket in such a short space of time.
As the players assembled for the Second Test at Lords, an unchanged England team was announced but for the Australians, Peter Nevill and Mitchell Marsh replaced Brad Haddin (personal reasons) and Shane Watson (omitted) with the tourists hoping for a better batting performance than during the First Test when they scored a total of just 250 runs in two innings’.
Winning the toss did help Aussie captain Michael Clarke and he opted to bat first on a flat and slow wicket which appeared to offer little for the bowlers and likely to deteriorate still further over the following days. What followed proved to be a sobering experience for the England cricketers after the euphoria of winning the opening Test match.
At close of play after 90 overs on the first day, Australia had accumulated a total of 337-1 with only David Warner being dismissed for 38 runs when trying to attack Moeen Ali. Chris Rogers followed his total of 95 from the First Test first innings by compiling a score 158 whereas Steve Smith justified his growing reputation by adding 129 runs, although he was dropped by Ian Bell in the slips off the bowling of Ben Stokes just after completing his half-century. The England bowlers could not really be faulted as they were offered few opportunities on a very benign pitch, yet in the first over, an outside edge off the bat of Rogers was nearly punished when it provided a difficult catching opportunity for the slip fielders.
It is now certainly conceivable that Australia could build a fairly sizeable total on the second day which may force the English batsmen to abandon their more adventurous tactics as the accumulation of steady runs takes precedence in the hope of averting a considerable first innings deficit. There will be added pressure on the top order batsmen, and their reply to an anticipated large tourists total will offer a different challenge to that experienced in the First Test.
What the first day of the Second Ashes Test has proved is that the Australians have responded positively to their poor performance in Cardiff with the watching public now awaiting a suitable reaction from the English batsmen and not just from England hero Joe Root.