2nd Ashes Test Preview

Can Australia make it two from two?


Or will England fight back after a listless Gabba showing?


Find out with The Sporting Landscape’s comprehensive second Test preview.


Team News

Pat Cummins confirmed Australia’s XI on Wednesday, with Jhye Richardson replacing the injured Josh Hazlewood. Having been hindered by shoulder issues, Richardson has no doubt been itching for this opportunity, and could be potent with the pink ball under lights. Unfortunately it’s another case of so close yet so far for perennial 12th man Michael Neser, whose hard luck story continues.


James Anderson and Stuart Broad have both been included in England’s 12-man squad, with Mark Wood the one to make way. The thought of one, or both, of Anderson and Broad taking the new pink ball will no doubt play on the mind of Australia’s batsmen, and could be what England need to spark a series revival.




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Why Australia can win

Following a nine wicket victory in which they were required to chase only 20 runs, Australia enter the second Test as undeniable favourites.


Question marks remain over Marcus Harris, but he’s surrounded by three of the best batsmen in the world in David Warner, Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith. With Travis Head in form as well, it makes for a fearsome top five.


Josh Hazlewood will be sorely missed with the ball, but his replacement in Jhye Richardson can be just as damaging. And with Michael Neser still lying in wait, Australia’s fast bowling stocks are fruitful.


This is a team high on confidence, determined to push one step closer to an unassailable series lead.



Why England can win

It’s yet to be seen whether Anderson and/or Broad will feature in Adelaide, but their inclusion will be crucial. They’re two of the best swing bowlers this decade, and a Day/Night Test could be their greatest opportunity to make an impression on this series, one they won’t want to pass up either.


England’s second innings in Brisbane was punctuated by 82 from Dawid Malan and 89 from Joe Root, meaning there is fight there. On top of that, England have Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler down the order. Despite the question marks, there’s undoubtable talent.


The inclusion of Jhye Richardson could also play into England’s favour as he’s another Australian bowler that can reach 145 km/h. The trio of Starc, Cummins and Hazlewood have been so successful because they compliment each other so well. With Hazlewood the slower of the three, his nagging and consistent lines are often called upon to stem the runflow when opposition teams gain momentum. With Richardson slightly more attacking by nature, England could cash in when the conditions do swing in the batsman’s favour.


All things considered, England haven’t put months, if not years, of preparation into this Ashes to concede defeat after one disappointing loss. You can guarantee they’re going to throw everything they have into turning this series around at Adelaide.



Players to watch

Marcus Harris is running out of chances, and with each failure, pressure on his place is intensifying. The Adelaide Test shapes as a watershed moment in Harris’ career – succeed and it could be the platform for a successful stint in the baggy green, fail and he could find himself out of the team.


On the other end of the spectrum, Travis Head repaid the faith shown in him with a brilliant run-a-ball 152 in Brisbane, and he’s now looking to build on that knock and solidify himself as a middle order force.


If England are to win this Test, they’re depending on a big match from Joe Root. As it stands, support for the captain is scarce, and he’s shouldering a mountain of responsibility.


No stranger to performing in an Ashes series, Ben Stokes enters this Test under an injury cloud. A valuable commodity with both bat and ball, his explosive spells will prove just as vital as his contributions with the bat. Another player England are relying heavily upon.

Also worth keeping an eye on his front foot.


They’ve already been touched on, but James Anderson and Stuart Broad will be itching to get a hold of the pink ball under lights, and could be decisive.


Playing his first Test in almost three years, Australia’s Jhye Richardson has been craving an opportunity in the red ball arena. Is a proven performer at first-class level with 90 wickets at an average of 21.11 from 21 matches, and is more than ready to prove himself at Test level.




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Prediction

Considering the low-scoring nature of pink ball Tests, a draw is almost certainly off the cards.


Anderson and/or Broad have the potential to wreak havoc for England, but there are simply too many frailties in their batting line-up. When Australia’s three quicks are given their chance with a new pink ball under lights, expect wickets to tumble.


The Adelaide Oval deck tends to become spin friendly as the game progresses, so Nathan Lyon will come into play later in the match. England on the other hand lack a potent spinner – Jack Leach may not even be selected – and this swings the odds further in Australia's favour.

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