England v Australia, 2nd npower Test, Lord's July 15, 2009

Focus required amid distractions

Match facts

Thursday, July 16 - Monday, July 20 2009
Start time 11.00 (10.00 GMT)

The Big Picture

The series resumes after a nail-biting final hour in Cardiff in which England clung to the mightiest of draws after being dominated for most of the match. Since then time wasting and Andrew Flintoff's retirement have become the big issues, but the teams will not be focussing on the pre-match hype when the first ball is delivered.

They will be more intent on a brisk start and continuing their on-field battles in a contest that has already provided more heat than the St John's Wood tube station in summer. Australia enter the match disappointed they are not leading 1-0, while England are buoyant to be level. The visiting batsmen fired at Sophia Gardens, roaring to 674 for 6 before declaring, and their bowlers fell one wicket short of victory. The bowlers on both sides will be more excited by the conditions on offer in this game.

Nothing gets an Australian's neck prickling like the sight of Lord's and the players' baggy greens gain extra power whenever they bob through the Long Room. England's leaders can't understand why their team hasn't beaten their Ashes rivals in 75 years here. Another chapter will be added to the dusty pages of history this week.

Form guide

(last five matches, most recent first)

England - DWWDD
Australia - DLWWW

Watch out for ...

Lord's is a place for the captains to star. Andrew Strauss missed out twice in the first Test, scoring 30 and 17, and needs to inspire his batting team-mates after they all gave away reasonable starts last week. The home of cricket is also Strauss's county ground for Middlesex, so he knows everything about the revered address. He has not scored a century here since 2006, but has reached triple figures three times on the way to averaging 58.17 in 11 matches.

Ricky Ponting, who has made 27 runs in three Test innings at Lord's, must stand up if his side is to maintain its intimidating batting intensity. In Cardiff Ponting breezed to 150, becoming one of four Australian century-makers, but the second Test will be played in different conditions and against a team that now remembers the last hour of batting, not the 181 overs of bowling.

Team news

Strauss wants to go with five bowlers - Ian Bell has been released from the squad - but his biggest worry is Flintoff's injured knee. Flintoff is bowing out of Tests at the end of the series and will be desperate to play while Steve Harmison is acting as his cover. Graham Onions was in the squad in Cardiff but didn't get a game, increasing his chances of appearing at Lord's, where two spinners are not a viable option.

England (possible) 1 Andrew Strauss (capt), 2 Alastair Cook, 3 Ravi Bopara, 4 Kevin Pietersen, 5 Paul Collingwood, 6 Matt Prior (wk), 7 Andrew Flintoff, 8 Stuart Broad, 9 Graeme Swann, 10 James Anderson, 11 Graham Onions.

Stuart Clark will be talked about but don't expect any changes to Australia's XI. Ponting should confirm the side later on Wednesday and it would be a shock if any of the players who pushed England last week are omitted. Brett Lee remains out with a stomach problem.

Australia (probable) 1 Simon Katich, 2 Phillip Hughes, 3 Ricky Ponting (capt), 4 Michael Hussey, 5 Michael Clarke, 6 Marcus North, 7 Brad Haddin (wk), 8 Mitchell Johnson, 9 Nathan Hauritz, 10 Peter Siddle, 11 Ben Hilfenhaus.

Pitch and conditions

Draws have been common recently at Lord's, but all the bowlers will feel this pitch is a raging seamer compared to the block of cement offered in Cardiff. There was an attractive green tinge on the surface on Tuesday and even though the grass was cut shorter on Wednesday, there is sure to be some life in it for the fast men. The same strip was used in 2005, although nobody is expecting a repeat of the 17 wickets that dropped on the opening day. The forecast is for sunny intervals on Thursday, rain on Friday and some showers over the weekend.

Stats and trivia

  • Australia have lost only one Test at Lord's, in 1934, since the 1896 tour

  • In 33 matches at headquarters Australia have won 14, drawn 14, and lost five

  • England have been successful in 43 of 116 Tests at the ground, but have drawn six of their past seven encounters

  • Don Bradman's 254 in 1930 is the highest score at Lord's in an Ashes contest, ahead of Wally Hammond's 240 eight years later

  • Hedley Verity's 15 wickets in 1934 are the best here by an Englishman in an Ashes game. Bob Massie's 16 for 137 in 1972 leads the overall list

  • Ponting needs 65 runs to overtake Allan Border's Australian record of 11,174 Test runs


"If you have gone for 670 runs and taken only six wickets then it is probably not a great option to reduce your bowling attack. We are pretty happy with the five bowlers."
Andrew Strauss

"I've got to start from scratch again, like we all have to do, after we didn't quite get the result we were after last week. It's up to me to lead the way with the bat."
Ricky Ponting

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo