England have not won an Ashes series in Australia after losing the first Test since 1954-55 and they enter Adelaide with hopes of matching that feat. But the first step in rectifying that record will be winning a Test match full stop, something they haven't done in their last 11 Tests
History and form are against England and much has been pinned on the pink-ball Tests of Adelaide and Hobart to help the visitors even the ledger. The only problem is Australia have won eight out of eight pink-ball Tests, including five in Adelaide
, while England have won just one and lost three having been hammered by 10 wickets in their most recent day-night fixture in India earlier this year. India themselves capitulated to Australia in last year's day-night Test in Adelaide, folding for 36
in their second innings in blazing sunshine.
England need a bowling performance of equal measure to fight their way back into this series and look set to welcome
James Anderson and Stuart Broad back after both were strangely left out of the Gabba Test
. But their bowling is just one half of the equation as their batting is of major concern despite Joe Root
being within reach of breaking the all-time record for the most Test runs scored in a calendar year. The skipper will need some help if England are to get back into the series.
Australia will want to keep the momentum rolling after a dominant win in Brisbane. They have lost Josh Hazlewood to a side strain, with Jhye Richardson
to replace him while there are fitness concerns over David Warner due to his bruised ribs
. Neither Pat Cummins nor Mitchell Starc were forced to bowl more than 35 overs in Brisbane while three of Australia's top six are coming off significant scores. But Australia did fail to score 200 in last year's pink-ball Test against India despite winning by eight wickets, and England rolled them for just 138 in the second innings in Adelaide four years ago.
Form guide (last five Tests, most recent first)
entered the series with the full backing of Australia's selectors, but the spotlight will now be on him after Travis Head erased any concerns over his place following his 152 in Brisbane. Harris deserves an extended run at the top of the order but if he can't get a score in Adelaide then questions will start to mount heading to Melbourne. Harris faced 17 balls in the first innings in Brisbane, none of which would have hit the stumps, and his decision-making was less than convincing as he edged to slip for just 3. With Warner set to be impeded by his bruised ribs, Harris will be needed to make a significant contribution to set the game up for Australia's middle order.
England need more from Jos Buttler
with the bat. In 2021 he has played 12 Test innings, averaging 29, for just one half-century but has passed 20 nine times including twice in Brisbane. His rearguard in England's first-innings proved he can do some damage to Australia if he gets going but 20s and 30s don't win Test matches. Root needs support and with Ben Stokes underdone, Buttler is the next most experienced player in the top seven and the man most capable of taking a game away from Australia in the manner Head did to England.
Australia have made just one change with Richardson replacing the injured Hazlewood. Richardson has been in outstanding form
for Western Australia in Sheffield Shield cricket this season and made his Test debut in a pink-ball Test in 2019. There were concerns over Warner's fitness as his bruised ribs continue to cause him discomfort but Australia skipper Pat Cummins confirmed he would play through the pain.
Australia 1 David Warner, 2 Marcus Harris, 3 Marnus Labuschagne, 4 Steven Smith, 5 Travis Head, 6 Cameron Green, 7 Alex Carey (wk), 8 Pat Cummins (capt), 9 Mitchell Starc, 10 Jhye Richardson, 11 Nathan Lyon
England have named their 12 with Anderson and Broad included and Mark Wood rested. But England have a problem
trying to balance their attack. They will be tempted to drop Jack Leach and play four seamers but Adelaide Oval curator Damien Hough cautioned against that despite very few spinners having success in pink-ball Tests in Adelaide. Over-rates are also a concern after England were docked 100% of their match fees for a glacial rate
England 1 Rory Burns, 2 Haseeb Hameed, 3 Dawid Malan, 4 Joe Root (capt), 5 Ben Stokes, 6 Ollie Pope, 7 Jos Buttler (wk), 8 Chris Woakes, 9 Ollie Robinson, 10 Stuart Broad/Jack Leach, 11 James Anderson
Adelaide Oval curator Hough is hoping to roll out another good surface. Pat Cummins said, "you could set your clock to this wicket every year" since the surface has become a drop-in with plenty of grass coverage offering pace, bounce, sideways movement and some spin. There has been warm weather in the lead-up to the Test and the first couple of days set to be over 30 degrees before cooling down over the weekend. Nathan Lyon has taken 19 wickets at 25.78 in pink-ball Tests in Adelaide while Ravichandran Ashwin took 4 for 55 in Australia's first innings last year. But no other spinner has taken more than two wickets in an Adelaide pink-ball Test. Moeen Ali bowled 29 wicketless overs, with just three maidens in 2017 while Yasir Shah leaked 197 runs from 32 overs in 2019 when David Warner made 335 not out. Mitchell Starc's pink-ball record is superb. He has taken 46 wickets at 18.86 in 8 Tests with three five-wicket hauls including 5 for 88 against England four years ago. He took 4 for 53 in the first innings against India last summer including bowling India opener Prithvi Shaw with the second ball of the match. Anderson averages 35.43 in Australia and strikes at 72, but he has performed reasonably well in Adelaide taking 16 wickets at 29.50 in four Tests there. He took 4 for 51 in a red-ball Test in 2010 and then 5 for 43 in the second innings of the pink-ball Test four years ago to help bowl Australia out for 138.
"It's not going to get any harder than that first day in Brisbane. Especially for guys who have not experienced what an Ashes series is like in Australia. We know it's not going to get more difficult than that, so in that respect, there's no excuses."
Joe Root is expecting England to be better for the experience at the Gabba.
"It went perfectly for us [in Brisbane], no doubt that's not going to happen every game and certainly won't happen this series I'm sure. We couldn't be happier with the start but know it's one match in a five match series."
Pat Cummins knows there are greater challenges to come after a perfect start to the series.