England carry a 1-0 Ashes lead after last week’s 169-run victory over Australia in Cardiff.
It was a dominant display from the home side over a disappointing Aussie outfit.
Now, with the second Ashes Test starting tomorrow, we take a look at 5 things to look out for at Lord’s over the next five days:
By Jack Vittles – Lead Cricket Writer – @JackVSport
The New Keeper
Australia look set to name a debutant at Lord’s, and this of course always adds a certain level of excitement to a match – as if an Ashes Test needs that! Brad Haddin has apparently been left out of the side due to personal reasons, so reserve wicketkeeper Peter Nevill will get a go at Lord’s, perhaps far earlier in this series than he may have envisaged. Nevill and Haddin are New South Wales teammates, and Haddin has already expressed his happiness that Nevill was the man to travel in the squad as his deputy. Haddin came in for a lot of criticism after his costly drop of Joe Root during the Cardiff Test, and Nevill will be expected to be tidier with the gloves than Haddin was. He will also be expected to improve upon Haddin’s increasingly paltry scores with the bat.
Moeen Ali – Cult Hero
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Heading into the First Test, Moeen Ali was a player whose place in the side was supposed to be under threat. However, 92 runs and five wickets in the match have made his place far more secure ahead of the remainder of the series. If the selectors were toying with dropping Moeen, the fans had certainly not turned on him. From the start of the First Test, every move Moeen made was cheered vociferously in the stand; the ovation he got at fine leg after returning from an over where he dismissed Michael Clarke was spin-tingling. Moeen appears to have taken on the mantle of the fans’ hero, perhaps replacing Monty Panesar in that respect. Whilst Joe Root may be the superstar of this side, Moeen has been the heart.
The Man in Form
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It’s finally happened. It looks like Shane Watson has been dropped, after a period of pretty dreadful performances that have include just three fifties in his last 18 innings, and 13 wickets in his last 22 Tests. Watson has been a regular since Lehmann took over as coach in 2013, and, apart from three Tests missed due to injury, he has been a regular for the past two years. The man to replace him will be Mitchell Marsh, who has played four Tests previously, but has never been selected directly ahead of Watson before. Marsh may just be a danger man for England, having struck two blistering centuries in the two warm up matches prior to the series.
Mark Wood’s Imaginary Horse
Wood has offered a new dimension to England’s pack attack, his aggressive and direct line of attack coupled with his extra yard of pace made him the perfect foil for the reliable pair of Broad and Anderson. However, as anybody who was in the Cardiff crowd last week will tell you, Wood is also a bit of character. In a game where we have grown used to ‘beige’ cricketers and cloned fielders, Wood’s enthusiasm and eccentricity is a breath of fresh air. He can often be seen encouraging bowlers wildly from the boundaries edge, or even turned singing to the crowd. He even has his own imaginary horse which he brings out to keep his teammates entertained. It’s even on twitter! (@markwoodhorse).
It may well have been England who took the aggressive approach in the First Test, but this is an Ashes series after all, and Australia aren’t going to let England make the running for the entire series. A key thing to look out for at Lord’s will be the nature of the inevitable Aussie fightback. Will they try and counter England’s discipline with the ball, and carefree aggression with the bat, with typical Aussie brashness? Or will they try and grind out a result, and play some additional cricket? We’ll find out tomorrow and over the next five days at Lord’s this week.