The Ashes heads to Lord’s on Wednesday night following Australia’s remarkable 251-run victory at Edgbaston last week.
Both sides have made some slight changes ahead of the first ball in London, but it’s the Aussies who have opened as the favourite to go 2-0 up in the series.
Confidence is sky-high in the Australian camp right now, and rightfully so. The question now becomes, can Steve Smith play hero again? Or will England even things up at the home of cricket?
We’ve previewed all you need to know in our Ashes Second Test Preview below.
Wednesday August 14, 8:00pm, Lord's
Head to Head Betting
Things looked grim for the Australians in the first innings at Edgbaston. Australia found themselves 3/23 before Steve Smith stepped in, leaving the former captain with plenty of work to do at the crease.
The rest, of course, was history. Smith’s back-to-back centuries saved the Test for Australia, but what can we make of the rest of the Australian order?
Aside from Travis Head, who chipped in with a valuable 51-run effort in the second innings, and Matthew Wade, who also scored his first Test century in a strong partnership with Smith, most of Australia’s big-hitters failed to make an impact.
For David Warner in particular, the Second Test is a chance at redemption. The 32-year-old has manned the crease only once at Lord’s back in 2015, where he combined for 121-runs across both innings of work. But with the hostilities of the First Test behind him, it goes without saying that Warner will play a pivotal role in Australia’s top order this weekend.
If Australia’s out of form players are to make an impact on the Second Test, they’ll need to find a way to combat England’s rejuvenated bowling attack that now features Test debutant Jofra Archer in the absence of Jimmy Anderson.
England has also gotten creative and called upon Jack Leach to help combat Steve Smith. With that in mind, the 28-year-old has limited Test experience having only faced New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Ireland in the past.
Smith will be the target for England at Lord’s, but the scary part is, they may not have seen the best Australia has to offer. If the Archer plan fails, England could find themselves with the same problems that plagued them in Birmingham: bowling.
The Australian selectors deserve enormous credit for their decision-making ahead of the First Test. This time around Marcus Labuschagne and Mitchell Starc have been named in the XI, and even with the threat of rain looming, it’s worth backing Australia’s replenished order to dispose of a very young, and questionable, England bowling attack.
Top Australian 1st innings Runscorer – Steve Smith
Smith returns to the site of his Test match debut, a ground he’s averaged 96-runs at across three matches.
England fans won’t hold fond memories of Smith’s double-century in the first innings at Lord’s back in 2015, but after becoming the second man this century to score a ton in both innings of an Ashes Test match at Edgbsaton, these odds are worth taking.
The biggest test for Smith this week will be Jofra Archer. England’s plan is to attack with pace, but with little experience against Smith, don’t be surprised if the world’s third-best Test batsman puts up another dizzying total.
Tip: Steve Smith Top Australian 1st Innings Runscorer @ $2.75
Top England 1st Innings Runscorer – Joe Root
It might seem a little boring siding with another one of the favourites, but with so much uncertainty in the English lineup, it’s worth backing a player that won’t spend every minute fearing for his spot in the order.
Root showed tremendous poise at the crease in Birmingham, particularly in the first innings where he tallied 57-runs. He also showed some real leadership when it came to challenging poor umpiring decisions. With three career centuries at Lord’s to his name, the English captain is the safest bet.
Tip: Joe Root Top England 1st Innings Runscorer @ $3.75
Top Australian 1st Innings Wicket Taker – Pat Cummins
Cummins will step onto the grass at Lord’s for the first time in his short Test career hoping to build on his strong seven-wicket haul at Edgbaston a week ago.
With the nerves of the First Test behind him, Cummins is one of the bigger unknowns in the Australian order – which might sound strange considering he’s the No. 1 ranked Test bowler in the world.
For the 26-year-old to find success, he’ll need to use the notorious Lord’s slope to his advantage, which is easier said than done. Of course, Cummins is used to playing under pressure, and after taking his 100th Test scalp last week, it’s worth backing him to lead the Australian charge at a handy price.
Tip: Pat Cummins Top Australian Wicket Taker @ $3.50
Top England 1st Innings Wicket Taker – Jack Leach
England has opted for a different spin option at Lord’s dropping mainstay Moeen Ali in favor of left-arm orthodox specialist, Jack Leach.
The 28-year-old has limited Test experience having played only five matches for the Three Lions. That hasn’t stopped him from taking 20 wickets though, making Leach one of the biggest threats to Steve Smith’s chances at the crease.
England will attack Smith with the pace of Jofra Archer, followed by some left-arm spin from Leach. It’s a particular ball Smith has struggled with in his career, so don’t be surprised if Leach makes an impact early.
Tip: Jack Leach Top England Wicket Taker @ $7.00