Sam Curran, Jofra Archer, and Jack Leach. These are the three cricketers we’re pinning our hopes on at Lord’s. They’ll have to shake up the team, raise morale, and give Australia’s batting (otherwise known as Steve Smith) something new to think about.
Confident? I wish I was. Personally I’m not even 100% convinced that the first of the three will play. Archer will surely replace Jimmy Anderson, Leach will replace Moeen, but Ed Smith might want to cling on to Joe Denly. The management will ultimately make the decision but there might be pressure from the chairman of selectors. Denly is one of his favourites and dropping him after a couple of games isn’t the best look.
However, if it was up to me then Curran would play. He’s often a lucky charm for England, he’ll probably score just as many runs as Denly anyway, and he might create some rough for Leach to bowl at. We’ll ignore the fact that he’ll also create some rough for Nathan Lyon too … for now.
Although I don’t particularly rate young Sam as a bowler his record in England is pretty good. He’s got something of a golden arm – it only takes one ball to get Smith out remember – and he might do what Broad, Woakes and Stokes failed to do in Birmingham: get this specially produced Dukes ball to actually swing.
I also believe that variation improves attacks even if five seamers are unlikely to achieve what four cannot. A left-arm seamer is always a handy asset for a captain to have up his sleeve. The angle might play a few tricks with the batsman’s mind. And it forces them to keep their footwork precise or get trapped LBW.
Curiously Archer is the new player England supporters have most confidence in – even though he’s the only debutant of the three. I think most people expect Jofra to provide the kind of cutting edge we’ve lacked for years. Is this fair? Probably not. But this is international sport and expectations are rarely rational.
England desperately need Archer to hit the ground running (… or should that be ambling?) He’ll just have to cope with the pressure, not to mention the Lord’s slope. The good news is that the opposition already respect him as a cricketer and this should give him confidence. He certainly won’t get the Usman Afzaal treatment from the straight shooting Aussies.
Jack Leach, on the other hand, seems like exactly the type of cricketer the Australians will target. He’s a good bowler in my opinion but he doesn’t exactly look like your prototypical international athlete. The Aussies might see him as Daniel Vettori light. And they’re bound to go after him. He’ll no doubt get a few verbals too – to which he should respond by politely pointing out the aesthetic frailties of his opposite number.
I think it’s important that we keep our expectations for Leach fairly low in this game. I’ll simply be happy if he can do what Moeen couldn’t do at Brum: keep some semblance of control. There are quite a few left-handers in Australia’s line-up and Lord’s isn’t his favourite ground. He’s probably not going to take a shedload of wickets.
So what do you think? Can these three guys make all the difference, change the mood, dismiss Steve Smith, and help England to victory? Will be you making a free no deposit bet on us levelling the series at 1-1? Because let’s face it. England need to get a result in this game.
Although a draw wouldn’t be the worst result in the world, a loss would be catastrophic. We’d need to win the three remaining tests to get the Ashes back. And we’ve got about as much chance of that as David Warner being announced as the new spokesperson for B&Q.
What we’re all craving is a win. A victory to ease our anxiety and set the Ashes up beautifully. But will this materialise? My head says no but my heart knows to expect the unexpected when England are playing test cricket. We often play well after a dispiriting defeat when the doom-mongers are most vocal.
The thing that worries me, however, is that this game is at Lord’s. Australia have a pretty good record at the home of cricket whereas England’s record is mixed. Can we reverse the trend? We won in 2009 I suppose. I just worry that the Aussies winning at Edgbaston was like Alan Border’s team winning at Headingley in 1989. It gave them a huge boost and made them believe.
If I recall correctly we didn’t get Steve Waugh out until the third test. Whatever damage Steve Smith did in Birmingham (and probably will do in this next test) at least we’ve already dismissed the blighter twice. It is possible. We’ve just got to stop him scoring 150 before it happens.
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