- By Stephan Shemilt
- Chief cricket writer at Lord’s
Second LV= Insurance Ashes Test, England v Australia
Location: to the Lord Date: June 28 – July 2
Scope: Ball-by-ball Test Match Special commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, Radio 4 LW, online, tablets, mobile and the BBC Sport app. Live text commentary on the BBC Sport website.
England are hoping an all-pace attack can make use of the green-tinged Lord’s pitch for the second Ashes Test as they look to level the series against Australia.
Having promised “more” to Australia after losing the first Test, England opted for seamer Josh Tongue.
Tongue, who took 5-66 against Ireland at Lord’s on his Test debut in June, replaces off-spinner Moeen Ali.
However, Australia could also bolster their fast bowling ranks with left-arm quick Mitchell Starc expected to play.
Moeen, who struggled with a cut rotator cuff in the first Test defeat at Edgbaston, was fit to play bowling in the nets during the week.
But there remained a concern that he was prone to a recurrence of the injury and that, along with the conditions and continued management of captain Ben Stokes’ own ongoing left knee problem, led England to the decision to go for an all-pace attack. .
“We went to Lord’s and found quite a bit of grass on the pitch and thought we could get more out of our fourth bowler Josh Tongue,” Stokes said.
Tongue, 25, will win his second cap after making his debut against Ireland at the same venue at the start of June.
Stokes admitted that England wanted to pick Mark Wood, but felt that he had missed out on a five-day Test having not played any cricket for more than two months. The hope is that he will be ready for the third Test at Headingley next week.
Worcestershire’s Tongue took five wickets in the second innings against the Irish and will join James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Ollie Robinson as frontline bowlers.
“I’m looking forward to seeing Tonguey continue his good start against Ireland here,” Stokes said.
“Coming in and using him in a fourth seamer role is something I’m really looking forward to him doing and I think he’s really looking forward to the challenge as well.”
Without Moeen, the onus for the spin would fall on Joe Root, who took a wicket in his off-breaks at Edgbaston and bowled more than Moeen in the second innings.
Before addressing the media, Stokes responded to Tuesday’s publication of a report from the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket (ICEC) by reading a prepared statement.
The ICEC report said racism, sexism, classism and elitism were “rampant” in English and Welsh cricket. The damning report looked at recreational and professional cricket, and the evidence gathered came from more than 4,000 respondents.
“Obviously the game has a lot more to do and as players we really want to be a part of it to make sure it’s a real sport for everyone,” Stokes said.
If they are to win the Ashes for the first time in eight years, England must become the first team since 2005 to come from behind to lift the urn.
It was a point not lost on Australian great Glenn McGrath, who said in his BBC column that the series would effectively be over if Australia won this Test.
His former side is expected to include left-arm paceman Starc, while off-spinner Nathan Lyon will become only the seventh man in history – and first bowler – to play 100 consecutive Tests.
“We’re pretty sure where we’re going,” Australia captain Pat Cummins said. “We just want to cover everything, check the wicket again and what the weather will be like.”
Cummins also said he took heart from Australia winning the first Test while – in his estimation – not at their best. He added that he expected a “big week” from batters Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne, who both had relatively quiet first Tests.
“History would suggest Marnus and Smithy rarely miss out, so I am expecting a big week from them,” he said of the pair who each averaged 55 in Tests and entered the series ranked number one and two in the world but got combined for 35 runs in four innings.
On his team’s performance in the first Test, he added: “I think that was one of the most pleasing things that we weren’t at our best but still managed to get over the line. It doesn’t always happen that way.”
England XI: Crawley, Duckett, Pope, Root, Brook, Stokes, Bairstow, Broad, Robinson, Tongue, Anderson.
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