July 15, 2009

More of the same, thanks

If Australia's fast men can lift 5% and encourage England's batsmen to attack at Lord's, they will be well on the way to victory

There's no reason for Australia's bowlers to do much differently for the second Test at Lord's. They don't need to make any changes for Thursday following their strong performance in the draw in Cardiff - they took 19 wickets on a benign pitch - but I reckon they have 5% of improvement left in them. When in top form, like they were in South Africa, they can run through any team.

Stuart Clark can feel hard done by, Lord's is a happy hunting ground for him and he would go well, but you can't leave out Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle or Ben Hilfenhaus. They did so well at Sophia Gardens, falling just one wicket short of a win. Johnson didn't do as much as expected and his bowling arm was lower than it should have been at times, which affected his line. It's a minor thing, and doesn't happen every ball. An important indicator for Mitchell is his head position, if he's nice and tall then everything else falls into place.

He was trying so hard to take wickets and impress, and he did show his class - he still took five in his 44 overs. It shows how fortunate Australia are to have him. He had an off game and still managed five victims. He'll be better for the bowl - he only played the one warm-up game - and he will get better and better as he goes on, showing what a champion he is.

Hilfenhaus was actually the best of the fast men in Cardiff. He only delivered 15 overs in the second innings, but if the ball isn't swinging he is not that effective. If it's swinging, he's got to bowl, as he showed in both innings on the way to picking up five wickets for the match. I reckon Siddle and Hilfenhaus will cause a lot of trouble at Lord's. I love the way Siddle bowls - he's fantastic - and he really shook up Graeme Swann when he hit him three times in the second innings. He can be really quick and intimidating.

At Lord's there's a lot made of the slope, but it's actually not as big as you think it is. If you think about it, it gets bigger than the eight-foot drop from the Grand Stand side to the Mound Stand edge. It may come into play with someone like Hilfenhaus when he's moving the ball around, but good bowling is good bowling on any ground.

When operating at Lord's it's important to get the batsmen looking to be positive between mid-off and square cover. The little bit of movement on offer - there should be some seam and swing - will cause chances, so you have to invite the batsmen to play shots. Then if the ball goes away you can get catches in the slips, or if it comes back you bring the bowled or lbw into play.

For England, Steve Harmison has come in and Graham Onions will be considered while Andrew Flintoff has a knee problem. I really think England should have considered Matthew Hoggard or Ryan Sidebottom. Nobody is even talking about them, but they would be difficult with the pitch showing a green tinge. I'm bemused by the constant overlooking of Hoggard. It blows me away that he hasn't even been considered.

Anyway, if this match is as exciting as the first one then we're in for a treat. There were a few question marks over whether the first Test should have been played in Cardiff - all that has been put to rest. The pitch was benign, but the game went down to the wire and it was an awesome spectacle.

Jason Gillespie is sixth on Australia's list of Test wicket-takers with 259 in 71 matches. He will write for Cricinfo through the 2009 Ashes

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