Ashes 2nd Test Review: England Explode Back into the Series
A weather-affected second Test Match from this summer’s Ashes series was played to a conclusion on Sunday evening. A number of delays contributed to the Test lasting all five days and, as you might imagine, there was no lack of drama along the way as the greatest rivalry in cricket took another compelling twist.
The Cricket World Cup in England – won by the host nation in stunning fashion – suffered from what was a wet and dreary start to the summer and it appears the weather has been nothing if not consistent throughout. June, July and now August has seen a fair share of rainfall and that was the main reason the 2nd Test Match lasted all five days. Players had to remain professional while the rest of us were forced to be patient and watch on as the covers were pulled over and taken off with increasing regularity. It shouldn’t be the case at this time of year, but we have learned, long before now, nothing can be taken for granted in the British summertime.
When we did get play in the Ashes it more than made up for the delays, with both teams putting their bodies on the line in an attempt to grab the win. The second Test swung back and forth, Australia threatening to turn the screw and kill the series dead, before England would rally back to keep things competitive. All the play was shown live on Sky Sports and that was enjoyed by those who couldn’t make it along to Lord’s in London.
Going into the second test on the back of a painful defeat, those loyal to the English cricket cause had hoped Lord’s – the home of cricket – would inspire a big performance amongst the locals. England had beaten Australia at the ICC Cricket World Cup and taken their crown earlier this summer, but Test Match cricket is a very different game to the one-day international stuff. Speed and excitement are replaced by patience and tactics, but there’s no less drama, as those who followed the second test will confess.
Australia Get Off to a Winning Start
The first test match was won by Australia who made history with a 251 runs victory in another five-day marathon. The scoreboard that day read England 374 all out and 146 all-out against the 284 all out and 487-7 dec of the victors. It was a real statement of intent from this Aussie side who came to England knowing they had a point to prove, not only to their loyal support on the back of the ball-tampering scandal that rumbled on for the best part of a year but also to themselves
They wanted to show that they still had it to compete at the top level of test cricket. The win earlier in August allowed them to do both and it also forced certain critics and ex-players to eat their words, those who had been only too happy to stick the boot in when times were tough. Australia appear to have learned their lessons, but they haven’t forgotten, that’s for sure.
Australia took a 1-0 lead in the series, but they didn’t just beat England in the opener, they thrashed their old rivals and appeared to lay down a marker in the process. So much so, England captain Joe Root spoke of his hurt when addressing the waiting media at the conclusion of play on the fifth and final day. Mood looked to be painfully low in the camp and Root confirmed it when saying his boys played good cricket but were beaten by the better team over the course of the test, one who fought hard and were determined to get the win.
The mood was very different on the opposite side of the fence and Australian batsman Steve Smith called it a special win over England in the 1st Test Match of the Ashes. He played a big part in that victory himself and was pleased with his efforts, scoring two centuries for the first time in his career, in any form of the game. Both sets of players were full of admiration for Smith’s performance and even the most loyal of England fans had to admit it was breath-taking and a real joy to watch.
England Rally Back
The scene was set for an epic second test match at Lord’s with the pressure on England to keep things competitive and fire themselves back into the series. Australia grabbed a 1-0 lead and knew 2-0 would’ve served as a real body blow to their hosts. That was something England wanted to avoid at all costs, but the locals were confident in their ability to respond in style and they did just that. Levelling the series at 1-1 would’ve got their show back on the road and fans could then look forward to what would be a crucial third test. Who got their way in the second instalment?
Well, neither. The second test match of what has already been an engrossing Ashes series was played to a draw. Very few punters had their stake money down on a level finish at a big price but that’s exactly what we got, the rivals cancelling each other out over the course of the five days. It may not have been expected but it did look a fair result and we didn’t see too many players from either side in a rush to argue. It seemed to be a scoreline that suited both teams.
Australia kept their lead and moved a step closer to avoiding defeat. They are now within touching distance of a draw being the worst result they could get in England. It also worked for their opponents as the share meant they avoided the silver bullet of a 2-0 series score. It wasn’t the win they wanted or even the win they looked capable of getting at times during the five days of play but 2-0 Australia would’ve killed England’s hopes dead. The draw keeps things competitive and it also shows the players they are not a million miles away from being good enough to beat Australia. A few improvements here and there and England would certainly be capable of winning the 3rd Test Match and tying the series at 1-1.
Stokes Shone Brightest During Late Onslaught
The scoreboard at the end of the second test read England 258 all out and 258-5 dec against Australia’s 250 all out and 154-6. That was a fair representation of how this one went but it was England who looked more likely to grab a late win on what was a thrilling final day of play. The hosts fell short by just four wickets, denying them what would have been a memorable victory over Australia. Ben Stokes scored the century and that had the tourists sweating down the home-straight, while Jofra Archer continued his stunning form with another jaw-dropping performance. Both men belonged in the winning dressing room but will take comfort in the fact they helped their side to a great result.
Archer, Stokes and the rest of the England team are now challenged with picking up where they left off in the third test match. If they can do that then the locals will surely have enough about them to get off the mark and level the series at 1-1. Confidence is sky-high in the home dressing room and, although they didn’t get the win they wanted, we expect to see this England team play like a side coming in on the back of a victory next time.
Joe Root looked much happier this time, telling members of the press his side always felt in control and he took pride in the fact his boys through everything at Australia. The leader reserved special praise for Ben Stokes who was the real standout in the latter stages. Australia captain Tim Paine was honest enough to admit his troops were not at their best in the second test match, but he thought his boys rallied well and grew as a team during England’s onslaught.
Crucial Third Test Match
The crucial third test match gets started on Thursday 22 August and will be settled before the end of 26 August. Emerald Headingley in Leeds plays host and England supporters hope that’s the venue that will herald a return to winning ways for their team. Those who can’t make it along to the famous old venue can follow the play live on Sky Sport with a highlights show every evening for those who missed the live play.
Bookmakers have also done their bit, offering betting odds on how the third test match might go. England is favourites with backers finding the home win marked up at 10/11 with bet365. That looks on the tight side following a heavy beating and a draw and it may just push punters into an interest bet on Australia, the tourists available at 17/10. Those who fancy having their cash down on another draw will find a cracking 11/2 trading at bet365 and that’s sure to catch the attention of value hunters. We certainly wouldn’t put anyone off an interest, if that was their approach, but the away win looks a more realistic option at a nice price.