Once the uphill task of beating Australia became a walk in the park for England during the first test, the latter were always confounding their critics in the most emphatic of manners, going on to win the match by a ginormous 169 runs on a track that presented a brutal skill test - England passed, Australia failed. There was a lot of complaining post the riot at The SWALEC Stadium from the Darren Lehmann camp as he joined a number of Aussies who complained about the pitch, trying to justify their loss, just as England did when going through a tough period. Cheeky stuff from a team that have just been crowned World Champions, or shall we say the so-called World Champions? Time will tell.
Clocks have ticked, beers enjoyed, players dropped, grass removed, and there you go, it's time for the second test at the Home of Cricket - The Lord's Cricket Ground. Whereas a win for England would all but settle the dispute over the urn (virtually) till the next two years, a victory for Australia would mean things are spiced up by the time Edgbaston readies itself for the third test.
England's pragmatism, planning and patience was what resulted in the undoing of Australia first time around in Cardiff, and it could yet prove to be a match-winning approach at Lord's too, where England arrive with no worries whatsoever, except for that microscopic one concerning Alastair Cook whose batting was treacherous to his reputation. Cook has never been the one who starts right from the word "go", rather, he's someone who takes his time to settle down, before he starts to play extravagant strokes. In the first test, the 30-year old tried to do something very Un-Cookish, using his feet against a spinner very early on only to be outthought, and then trying to drive a very wide one, which we haven't seen him do all these years. Alastair has had the best game of his career as a captain, but he must remember that to win The Ashes, it's his runs that the team needs the most.
Aggression, not Carelessness: England threw wickets away in the second innings in the name of aggression, and though the lead was enough by the time England started to self-destruct, the match could have swung either way. England must avoid trying to be over-aggressive and focus on being consistent, or risk throwing the lead away as well.
Line-up: No changes from the XI that played in the first test.
Australia's impatience, over-aggressive approach, and their hopelessness once Joe Root counter-attacked did all point out how complacent they had been, and just how big a reality check did Pup's World Champions need. The tourists looked tired throughout the match, and the leader looked clueless, with all his decisions going against him, but it can all change if Australia go with a more patient approach than trying to take England on all the time. On the other hand, their bowlers need to emulate the way England planned every wicket by targeting the weak areas more than often than not. In addition, showing some skill rather than complaining about the pitch would help Australia. Lord's would offer a good track in all respects anyway, and it is upto Australia as to how do they adapt to it.
Use of the Slope: The pitch at Lord's may not offer as much bounce as The Gabba, but the slope here is just as troublesome if used well. Josh Hazlewood, with all his accuracy and swing, could repeat what Glenn McGrath did here a decade ago. Don't write off the Mitchells either, the slope favours that lot.
Line-up: Dropping Shane Watson and Brad Haddin is as good a decision as Australia are going to make on this tour. The two never really looked like being anyway near their best, and hence bringing in Peter Nevill and Mitchell Marsh is the right decision.