England and Australia will take to the field this morning with the second test match of The Ashes 2009 lying in the balance – England are batting and will restart with 364 for 6 wickets.
The picture could, and perhaps should, be much brighter for England after a great start was effectively erased when Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood and Andrew Flintoff were caught and Cook and Bopara succumbed to straight deliveries LBW.
Bopara’s wicket in particular was a real sucker punch as the bowler sent one back the other way and the batsman was caught on a half stride.
Australia had started very poorly with the ball in hand, however, and will be hoping for better this morning in particular from Johnson who, despite his two wickets, was very expensive early on and took an age to find any rhythm – he has not looked like the bowler he was in the run-up to the Ashes.
Australian wicket keeper, Brad Haddin suggested that some players had been a little bit nervous at the start of the match, stating “the occasion at Lord’s maybe got to us,”.
This match will hinge around this morning’s session of play – whether Strauss can add to his impressive 161 and reach the double hundred his sensible batting yesterday deserves will depend largely on what movement the Australians can produce from this relatively flat wicket, and whether or not England have sufficient reserves to back up their captain.
If England do make it to lunch for one or two wickets then the match swings in their favour once more, as they’ll likely be posting a score of 450+ – the very least they should have expected from this pitch. If the hosts are out by lunch time, they could face a torrid three and a half days as the Australian team posses an embarrassment of riches in the batting department which could well post a huge total once more.
Early wickets are, therefore, vital to take, or protect.
If England do make it to lunch time and beyond, they give themselves a half chance in this match providing they can find inspiration with the ball that was so evidently lacking at Cardiff, however, the longer England bat on in this innings, on all evidence to date, it has to be said that this Lord’s test match starts to have the word “draw” written all over it.
This draw prediction rings particularly true if we look at the other imponderable feature of English cricket: the weather.
By lunch time, we should have a clearer picture. England must still be batting by then if they are to keep alive their hopes for a positive result in this test match.