The First test witnessed a horrific collapse by England, but perhaps we saw some ‘roll- reversal’. In 2005 Mcgrath rolled his ankle at Edgbaston , before the worst captaincy call to bowl first by Ricky Ponting, and the rest is glorious history. This time Jimmy was cutting corners and so we had to play with ten men. On top of that we had to bat last, whilst trying to shake off the hangover from England’s first World Cup Victory, so had several things stacked against us. I felt some trepidation that we were now having to go to Lord’s where I had it in mind that we had a poor record against Australia. I decided I should trawl through to be sure …
I quickly understood why a man of my vintage felt trepidation. Incredibly. we didn’t win an Ashes Test match at Lord’s for most of my (and all of my father’s ) lives from pre-war 1934 for 75 years until 2009!!
In 2009 we won by 115 runs (Strauss 161)and then by 347 runs in 2013(Root 180) both times England batting first. In 2015 Australia recorded a 405 run victory(batting first) with Steve Smith ominously 215. I think now we’ve thrown off the 75 year hoodoo twice since 2009. and the magic of our 1st ever World Cup Victory at Lords only a few weeks ago in our minds and in the rafters , we have every chance of levelling up with eleven fit men.
It’s vital we pick the right team, as the Aussies are cock-a-hoop and have Starc and Hazelwood waiting in the wings
As a Kentish Man, I feel regret every time I have expressed from his first England Match that Joe Denly is a great county all-rounder but to me doesn't look international class, except as a fielder. In his last four internationals he averages 14 with the bat and has 0-116 bowling .
Moeen Ali, has admitted he doesn't enjoy high intensity cricket culturally. The intense mental and social challenge presented by a marathon World Cup at home sandwiched by two Ashes series has been tough and he's lost his confidence. His Batting stats are horrific, averaging under 10 in his last seven inning, 53 with the ball over this period. He may benefit from a rest
Jonny Bairstow has been in terrible batting form since Chester le Street, scoring 84 in 6 innings averaging 14 also. His keeping was also poor at Edgbaston, missing a crucial easy stumping and let plenty through his legs, He should be given a final warning shot across the bows or be rested. Jimmy is not fit so….
2.Rory Burns (lh)
3. Joe Root (rh)
4/5. Ben Stokes (LH)
4/5. Jason Roy (rh)
6. Jos Buttler(rh)
7.Sam Curran (lh)
9 Jonny Bairstow (rh)*
8 Chris Woakes(rh)
10. Stuart Broad (rh)
11. Jofra Archer(rh)
12. Jack Leach(lh)*
24 year old Dom Sibley is the leading run scorer in County Div One averaging 62, opening the batting for Warwickshire. He got 74 and 30 vs Aus A, and remains in excellent form. Dom scored 64 off 43 balls against Yorkshire at Headingly on Sunday in his only T20 outing . He is a right-hander so makes a RH/LH with Burns who was lucky to play and miss/edge 40 times at Edgbaston but showed much needed grit.
Should Roy want to move, he can be given a chance at 4 or 5, where the ball should be moving less and he can play his more natural game. To that end I would consider Stokes to bat four if not too fatigued, as he has shown more grit and determination in times of danger. You could also consider keeping a RH-LH combination and using that to help decide who bats 4 and 5 for a change -(bowlers hate L-R combos)
I would back 21-year old Sam Curran to outscore the other batting/all-rounder options at 7, from what I’ve seen and also statistically. He Test Averages an impressive 31 with the bat and 30 with ball and so he has those stats just the right way round, and is surely improving in leaps and bounds aged 21. I remember his father the Zimbabwean Kevin Curran(sadly deceased) as a fantastic and entertaining all-rounder and farmer, who was forced out by Mugabe. His three sons sons Sam,Tom and Ben have grown up here and went to Wellington School like Peckers Alex ‘Old Horse’ Gowar and Immers Arbee. Sam posted his credentials more than anyone v Australia A a few weeks ago taking 6-95 in the 1st innings and then making 50 and 56 not out. Interesting Sam Curran's best test innings came last summer, when we were in deep trouble-in the crucial 4th test. India had won at Trent Bridge to bring it back to 2-1, and on Day One we were reduced on a tough wicket to 86-6. Under the ultimate pressure Sam top-scored 78 out of 246 easily top-scorer and turned the match and the series - We needed that kind of grit yesterday!. Sam gives you a left arm bowling option, and is useful if it’s swinging , averaging 30, Sam’s god-father Allan Lamb will be delighted if he gets picked, and can tell him a few things about Ashes battles.
For the trio of players who played well in that England Lions v Australia A Jack Leach took 5-109 in the second innings when the Aussie spinners were wicket-less. He will be best known for his gritty 92 against Ireland as night-watchman though his other batting stats look awful. Lewis Gregory is the other candidate if you want a specialist spinner with better batting/
However, I don’t think we should prepare a wicket to take spin though as Lyon is one of the best Spin Bowlers in the world, and we are not over-blessed. Our best chance to win at Lord’s is to prepare a raging green top of a seaming wicket to suit our bowlers. Dry Suits the Aussie Attack whereas slightly damp and green is more our flavour. There’s a bit of rain forecast on Monday/Tuesday so I’d give the pitch some much needed moisture…. I would then strengthen with an extra batsman, and play Root as the spinner, as he may not be needed. Root’s useful anyway, bowled well in the World Cup and at times looked the most dangerous of the three in Edgbaston.
If it’s not damp then I would bring in Leach for Bairstow, giving Buttler a chance to keep and Bairstow a chance to regroup in the Nets. Foakes as a proper keeper and solid 7/8 also comes into consideration , particularly if there are any injuries . In a dry scenario batting first looks quite vital.
I think England will probably not make as many changes and give some another chance to shake off the hangover, but we will see…Please add your suggested teams at the end in a comments box-–NB not who you think they England pick, but who you would select!–The Woodpecker England selector who’s players do best in the rest of the series will win the Peckers Pick your Perfect England Eleven