Is it already Last Chance Saloon for struggling England?
We’re only one Ashes Test deep this summer, and England are already staring down the barrel: Australia look stronger in all departments, and should Joe Root’s men succumb to the old foe at Lord’s—a ground where they have always struggled—then they can kiss the urn goodbye.
The Edgbaston Test was a worrying wake-up call; England were outperformed with the ball (particularly in the spinning department) and outperformed by Australia’s supposedly shaky top-order.
England have only beaten Australia twice at Lord’s in Test matches since 1934, and while I’d love to dive into why England can defy history, beat Australia and claw themselves back into the series, it’s looking like the weather will have the last laugh.
Wednesday (the opening day) looks like a total washout, as does Saturday, while Friday’s forecast is hit-and-miss at best. Of course, I have no doubt England are capable of losing to Australia in two days (just look at how they performed against Ireland for large parts of that match), but considering the amount of rain forecast, it’s hard to pass up 16/11 on a draw.
Just two of Root’s matches as England skipper have ended in draws—highlighting the cut-and-thrust nature of this current side—but I’d expect to see another come Sunday.
My first player-based tip is for Mitchell Starc to be top Australian bowler in their first innings.
Starc wasn’t selected for the first Test—a good move considering the result—but the Aussies are looking to adopt a horses-for-courses approach this series, meaning Starc’s selection for this match is a no-brainer.
In little over 54 overs bowled at the Home of Cricket in all formats, the Aussie left-armer has claimed 12 scalps; Starc is a master exponent of the Lord’s slope, bringing the ball into right-handed batsmen looking to trap them LBW, and considering five of England’s top seven right-handers, this tip has plenty of promise.
The 29-year-old ran riot against England at Lord’s in the World Cup, and I can envisage a similar scenario this time around.
Priced at a monstrous 3/1, I have Chris Woakes as top England bowler.
There’s one simple reason for this: Woakes has taken 24 Test wickets at Lord’s at an average of 9.75. Those figures are absolutely sensational.
Conditions will likely favour the seamers, so of course Stuart Broad is a big player in this market (90 wickets @27.22 at Lord’s) while Jofra Archer could be the ultimate wildcard, but 3/1 is far too big a price for Woakes in this second Test.