As some of us had anticipated before the Ashes 2017-18 got underway, Australia, with the better personnel and combination, bettered England in all three departments and have raced into a 1-0 series lead. Steve Smith lost the toss and the Brisbane pitch was on the slower side and, therefore, run-scoring was a little difficult. Having said so, the Australian captain showed the way to accumulate runs and his 141* (326 balls, 14×4) was the defining innings of the Test match.
The Australian bowlers’ performance in the first innings was just as vital as Smith’s astonishing, marathon-esque century (the 21st of his Test career) and their own performance in the second innings, bowling England out for 195 and leaving Australia with just 170 runs to get. Australia, you can say, have definitely gained a psychological edge for the rest of the series and as we had noted before the series began, they have the better players and consequently a better team from Nos. 1 to 11.
Australia playing XI for the second Ashes Test
Mitchell Starc, who took 6-128 in 44 overs, felt that fatigue will not be an issue for the Australian quicks heading into the day-night Test match in Adelaide. He also expected the playing XI to be the same from Brisbane, saying, “I’d expect it to be the same squad and the same line-up going into Adelaide as well.” And we cannot really argue with his opinion, can we?
The Australian selectors had named a 13-man squad for the first two Tests and Jackson Bird and Chadd Sayers were those who sat out the Brisbane Test. Sayers, who plays for South Australia at the Adelaide Oval, was tipped to potentially feature at his home ground because of his nous of the prevalent conditions and not to forget, his being a proven exponent of the pink ball (Sayers has a tally of 14 wickets in two day-night Sheffield Shield matches at the Adelaide Oval since last season).
But with the Starc-Hazlewood-Cummins pace trio having shown that they are in supreme bowling rhythm, bowled with pace and taken 70 per cent of the English wickets (14), I expect them to be stuck with for the sixth day-night Test match in history and the third at the Adelaide Oval, where the second Ashes Test gets underway on December 2.
Australia playing 11:
- Steve Smith (c)
- Cameron Bancroft
- David Warner
- Usman Khawaja
- Peter Handscomb
- Shaun Marsh
- Tim Paine (wk)
- Mitchell Starc
- Patrick Cummins
- Nathan Lyon
- Josh Hazlewood
England playing XI for the second Ashes Test
England didn’t play badly in Brisbane, but as a unit, they didn’t make the most of the good positions they were in in the first half of the Test match. Essentially, they didn’t seize their moments, with the bat or with the ball, and paid a heavy price.
On the batting front, they lacked the punch that a Ben Stokes may have provided, as a No. 5 or 6. And with his participation in the ongoing Ashes series still uncertain, England desperately need their senior pros and relative newcomers to raise their game. Once Stokes’ absence became known, the big question was how will the Three Lions cope, on the batting and bowling fronts. And, on the evidence of their showing in Brisbane, they do not seem threatening enough to pose problems for Australia.
For the day-night Test match in Adelaide, I do not foresee any changes being made to the England batting line-up. Alastair Cook and Joe Root’s failures didn’t help the team’s cause one bit, but those (Stoneman, Vince and Malan) around this pair gave a good account of themselves and are likely to be retained.
England bowling attack is one-dimensional, accentuated by the lack of pace and movement in Brisbane. Stuart Broad was the pick of their bowlers and the visitors probably needed another like him: a bowler who can hit the deck and use the bounce on offer, rather than float the ball into the pitch and on a length.
The pink ball does move appreciably under lights and batting becomes difficult once we enter the twilight time of the evening. And these are precisely the sort of conditions that Anderson and Chris Woakes, who are inherent swing bowlers, will enjoy. And England, for sure, will field three seamers in their bowling attack. The subsequent question is, will Jake Ball be persisted with as the fourth seamer or will leg-spinner Mason Crane be handed his Test debut? If not Crane, Craig Overton, who is a more well-rounded bowler who is equally adept at banging the ball into the pitch as he is with pitching the ball up and getting it to swing, might come in place of Ball, letting England retain the four-man pace attack.
So, yes, England are unlikely to make wholesale changes for the day-night Adelaide Test.
England playing 11:
- Joe Root (c)
- Alastair Cook
- Mark Stoneman
- James Vice
- Dawid Malan
- Moeen Ali
- Jonny Bairstow (wk)
- Chris Woakes
- Stuart Broad
- Craig Overton
- James Anderson
England ought to be aggressive and maintain the pressure on their hosts all the time. Also, needless to say, they need to seize the moments when they arise. Only if they manage these two aspects well, they can unsettle Australia.
The Brisbane Test showed that the hosts remain considerably dependant on Steve Smith and removing him quickly, even if for a score of around 50, could tilt the balance in England’s favour. So, in a way, Australia aren’t an overly dominant side either, though they have experienced personnel and are a more balanced side.