After successfully conquering the fortress of Edgbaston, the Aussies led by Tim Paine will now move on to their next stop, the Home of Cricket, where they'll look to crush England's hopes once again. Brimming with confidence from top to bottom, it is fair to say that they will walk in as favorites.
David Warner: David Warner didn’t have the most fruitful of outings at Edgbaston, as the southpaw was removed for single digit scores in both innings by Stuart Broad. It has been 10 innings since the opener last scored a Test century, and while it be normal for most of the cricketers, it’s definitely something to worry about for Warner, who usually sets really high standards for himself. After all, what better way to mark your return to Test cricket than getting your name in the honour’s boards at Lord’s?
Cameron Bancroft: The story of Cameron Bancroft’s Test career has been a weird one. Despite looking oh-so-solid and compact every time he’s walked in to bat, he’s seemed to lose focus for a fraction of a second, letting his mind wander elsewhere, ultimately playing a loose shot and finding himself walk back to the pavilion. A similar tale was seen in the first Test, but the Western Australian can ill-afford to repeat the tale once again, as in all likeliness, a failure would see him be sacrificed in favor of Marcus Harris, who’s been vigorously knocking at the door for a very long time.
Usman Khawaja: Usman Khawaja won a race against time to be fit for the first Test, and in all fairness, the 32-year-old was the architect of his own downfall, falling victim to two loose shots. Despite not making it count, the leftie showed glimpses of what he’s capable of, as he struck a quickfire 40 in the second innings batting alongside Steve Smith to help reduce the deficit. Ever since his marathon 141 against Pakistan last year, Khawaja has had it tough in Test cricket, and one gets the feeling that the left-hander needs to once again come up with a substantial knock against a top side to prove his quality.
Steve Smith: The Legend says that Steve Smith apparently is still batting in Birmingham, reviving English bowlers’ nightmares. The former skipper single-handedly sucked every ounce of hope, energy and fight from the English players with his grit, determination and perseverance, and proved why he is indeed the best Test batsman in the world, marking his comeback in style. If anything, he would now need to evade the threat of Jofra Archer, who most pundits believe is the most likely of bowlers to get him out. But once again, we have heard these tales before, haven't we?
Travis Head: The South Australian is slowly but steadily making a name for himself in the Aussie middle-order, and in many ways, is starting to fill the Mike Hussey-shaped void. He strung together two invaluable partnerships with Smith in both the innings at Edgbaston, which in turn helped his side recover from bothering situations. If anything, the only criticism of Head is that he has failed to make his starts count, but one would expect that things will start to happen for the youngster as he plays more, and he is not someone who the English can let go off the hook.
Matthew Wade: In the summer of 2018, the Victorian gave up his wicket-keeping gloves, decided to concentrate on his batting and did everything he possibly could to earn a recall - be it score runs in Shield, BBL, JLT Cup or the ‘A’ team. And when the opportunity finally arrived, he made sure that he made it count big time, as he smacked an immaculate century in the second innings to bat England out of the game. Ricky Ponting described him as the “Best batsman in the world on current form”, and honestly, you can see why he would make such a statement.
Tim Paine: For someone who is always considered to be “lucky” and “less talented” than his teammates, Tim Paine has done an outstanding job in holding the Australian side together, paying very little attention to the criticism around him. Yes, he probably would have like to score more runs than what he’s scoring right now, but both as a captain and as a keeper, Paine has been flawless, and his maturity and decision-making have enabled the teammates around him to express themselves.
Mitchell Starc: Mitchell Starc has blown hot and cold in Test Cricket of late, and despite having taken a 10-wicket haul in the last Test he played against the Lankans, he found himself overlooked for the First Test. Now, keep in mind that the 29-year-old is also coming on the back of a record-breaking World Cup, and no one exactly knows what to expect from him come Wednesday, and this might very well turn out to be the telling factor in the match. With Pattinson rested due to his injury history, one can expect Starc to ensure that England don’t miss the aggression and the hostility that the former brings to the table.
Pat Cummins: The 26-year-old proved in the first Test why he sits at the very top of the bowlers’ rankings, as he displayed an exhibition of consistency to eventually frustrate the English batsmen. The right-armer has taken at least three or more wickets in five of his last six innings’ in Test Cricket, and this despite having played in rather flattish wickets. There is a lot of talk about the Lord’s wicket being a spicy one, and if Cummins has such returns on flat decks, it’s up to England’s imagination on what he could potentially do on wickets that offer assistance.
Josh Hazlewood: In general, fast bowlers don’t take getting dropped from the team too lightly and will aim to make their mark on their comeback, and one can bet Josh Hazlewood would be raring to step on the field come Wednesday. Recovering from injury, the right-armer proved that he was back to full fitness, as he skittled out the Worcestershire top-order with a clinical three-wicket haul in the warm-up match last week. With the slope coming into play at Lord’s, Hazlewood’s height might be an invaluable addition to Australia’s arsenal - a factor which might very well edge him ahead of Peter Siddle in the first XI.
Nathan Lyon: Give him a Day 5 track and a ball in his hand and he will win you the match. That’s right, from someone who was seen as a mere holding bowler to compliment the Australian pacers, Lyon has transformed himself into the biggest match winner with the ball over the course of the last 18 months. His spell turned out to be the difference maker at Edgbaston, as while Moeen Ali on one hand found it difficult to trouble the Aussie batsmen, Lyon, on the other, had the English on all sorts, and without a shadow of doubt, will once again hold the key to Australia’s chances in the second Test.
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