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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Chamara on July 20, 2009, 1:47 GMT

    I can't believe that Mathew Hoggard is not in the side. Even Sidebottom. I think Mathew Hoggard is a very good line and length and swing bowler. I believe he is the best in England right now. He can dismiss any batsmen. Batsmen of calibre of Pontings with his line and swing. I think England just lost the opportunity to finish this historic win early.

  • Shanthal on July 18, 2009, 16:53 GMT

    With regards to the "inform" performance of the Aussie attack in South Africa, the conditions must definitely be taken into account. Apart from that Australia have some ways to go in building a complete bowling attack.

  • Siddharth on July 17, 2009, 8:48 GMT

    It was really disappointing. Really. I've never seen him getting hit like this. I mean it's OK to get hit for even 20 runs in an over but spraying the ball all over the pitch consistently? I think we did see a completely different bowler yesterday. I hope he comes back strongly. A very sad and Disillusioned Johnson supporter :'(

  • Nicholas on July 17, 2009, 0:31 GMT

    Australia really didn't bowl very well at Cardiff - England simply gifted them soft wickets. As matters stand, Johnson looks like a seriously flawed bowler, while Siddle tries, but lacks guile. Hilfenhaus has bowled fairly well, but if this is the future for Australia then only the lower tier sides will fear them.

  • Cathal on July 16, 2009, 20:38 GMT

    everyone is talking about a recall for harmison but what about sidebottom a swing bowler with great control.

  • Mike on July 16, 2009, 11:59 GMT

    Ohh this is painful to watch people.. If someone doesn't help Mitchell Johnson soon it will be too late. I thought you were right SiddharthPandit but now watching this start of play at lords its just evident he needs support more than he is getting around him at present.

    As a fellow bowler Mitchell i feel for you buddy.. JUST GET YOUR WRIST STRAIGHT please!!

    A very sad and Disillusioned aussie supporter :'(

  • Siddharth on July 16, 2009, 5:20 GMT

    Thanks for your opinion gzawilliam , but i haven't seen johnson getting thrashed on any of the flat tracks he played. On the other hand his figures were amazing on Indian tour last time. You may foresee teh future and say he might not run for long, but those would all be assumptions. However, I agree to your point that if given proper guidance to land the ball properly he can follow akram's path to success soon.

  • Nathan on July 16, 2009, 2:58 GMT

    Spot on Dizzy ... nice article. I agree with most of your comments, and the main point is that given Mitch took 5 wickets for the match on the flattest of tracks, while he looked to be in second gear, how are the poms going to handle him once he cranks it up to fourth gear? He never comes back great after a lay off, so the run will have done him the world of good. With the amount of improvement left in the Aussie team it is hard not to feel very confident

  • Luke on July 15, 2009, 23:59 GMT

    As Flintoff is retiring Eng will have no care for his health: if he can walk he'll play. Thus they must win at least one of the next two tests or the opportunity is missed. By the 4th test Flintoff will be crippled (if he plays the next 2). If you pick on form then Harmison must play: drop any of the other bowlers - he'll still provide great balance to the attack. Broad is way out of his depth and Anderson looks inconsistent. The top order is shaky (except Collingwood) and the lower order is doing the batting for Eng. There will need to be a fundamental change in the attitude and manner in which Eng plays to avoid losing a few tests this series.

  • Jon on July 15, 2009, 22:24 GMT

    Whilst this Aussie attack is very good, it is not great. England's batting is woeful. They lack application and commitment. The Aussies scored 4 big hundreds, England scored none. Until they apply themselves, England will never reach the quality of cricket played by South Africa, Australia and India. They talk and good talk, make all the right noises, but the sides who win tests are the ones who make the most runs and take 20 wickets. England look they can do neither. Perhaps they will get the message and go to Lord's with some spine! Then we will be in for a really great spectacle.

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