The Inner Sanctum’s Second Ashes Test Preview

The Inner Sanctum's Second Ashes Test Preview. (Images: Cricket Australia/Twitter)

After a comprehensive victory in the first Test, the Australians will look to keep that hot streak going in Adelaide whilst England will look to bounce back.

The first day/night Test will be played at Adelaide Oval, which is set to begin on Thursday afternoon. There’s a lot to play for this Test, particularly for the visitors.

Big picture

It was the perfect start for Australia up in Brisbane, comprehensively defeating England by nine wickets on the fourth day. The Aussies have now won 10 of the last 11 Tests at home, and extended their winning streak at the Gabba.

This Test will mark the second Ashes day/night Test, with Australia winning last time by 120 runs in 2017. Australia boasts a perfect record in eight day/night Tests (all in Australia), whilst England are 1-3.

32 Ashes Tests have been played at Adelaide Oval. Australia has won 18 Tests, England nine, and there’s been five draws.

Australia has won the two most recent by a combined margin of 338 runs. England last won at Adelaide Oval in 2010 by an innings and 71 runs.

Key players

Travis Head – His performance up in Brisbane stole most of the headlines for the first Test, and Head looks set to play a massive role in his home state. This Test is particularly big for Head, who doesn’t boast the best record in Tests at Adelaide Oval.

He now boasts a 52.2 average here in Australia after his previous innings. However, in three Test innings in Adelaide, he only boasts an average of 31. His day/night numbers are solid, averaging 38 in four day/night innings. 

However, since this is his home Test, he will still be a crucial cog for the Australians if they are to win, especially if Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith don’t go on to make big knocks.

James Anderson and Stuart Broad – Two of England’s greatest ever bowlers will play a massive role with the pink ball in Adelaide after missing out at the Gabba.

Anderson will play the bigger role out of the two, especially given his abilities with the pink ball. He’s taken 14 wickets in six pink ball Tests at an average of 19.3. His best performance: 5/43 at Adelaide Oval in the 2017 Test. 

Broad also has a handy pink ball record. He’s taken 10 wickets in six innings at an average of 27.3. 

Anderson has an alright record in Adelaide, taking 16 wickets at 29.5. Broad has struggled at the venue, taking only six wickets at 47.7. Even if one of them doesn’t get selected, one of the two will still play a major role in England’s chances in this Test.

Pat Cummins – As the Australian captain, he already had a big role. But now with Josh Hazlewood set to miss out, his role just got a lot bigger as the main bowler. Cummins comes into the match in good form too, taking 7/89 on captaincy debut, including 5/38 in the first innings.

He has a reasonable record at Adelaide Oval, taking 15 wickets at 25.8. His pink ball record is very handy though, taking 26 wickets at 16.2 in 10 day/night Test innings. 

In his last day/nighter against India at Adelaide Oval he took 7/69 in the match, his best figures in Adelaide. Someone will replace Hazlewood, but not his impact, which makes Cummins’ role a little more crucial and tougher.

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Key match-up

James Anderson vs Marnus Labuschagne – David Warner is still a big if to play in Adelaide after a knock to the ribs in Brisbane. This makes this matchup between two pink-ball specialists central to the second Test.

Anderson’s numbers are some of, if not the, best numbers in pink ball Tests. Marnus Labuschagne though has an impressive record with the bat in day/nighters. He’s scored 489 in six innings at 81.5, with his highest score of 162 coming in 2019 against Pakistan in Adelaide.

All his Tests in Adelaide have also been under lights, averaging 71.7 in three innings there. However, he is yet to face Jimmy Anderson, and his career pink ball record speaks for itself.

The biggest question here is can Labuschagne survive Anderson if he comes in early, or will England’s greatest seam bowler be too good for Australia’s number three?

Players to watch

Mitchell Starc – Some might think selecting him as a player to watch in two consecutive Tests is a controversial decision. However, Mitch Starc with the pink ball is as lethal a combo you can get in Test cricket.

In all eight day/nighters for Australia, he’s taken by far the most wickets with 46. His average: 18.9, which is 10.7 runs better than his average in day matches (29.6). 

It was an alright performance up in Brisbane, taking 3/112, including that first ball wicket. He will definitely enjoy playing under the lights and with the pink ball at Adelaide Oval.

Dawid Malan – After a solid second innings up in Brisbane, Malan showed all watching just how talented he is with the bat. And this Test he looks set to play as big of a role, this time against the pink ball.

Malan’s record in Australia is his best record in any country, scoring 471 at 42.8 in 11 innings down under. However, his day/night record isn’t the best, acquiring only 138 runs at 27.6 in five innings.

Last time he played in Adelaide he only scored a combined 48 runs in both innings batting at number five. But this is a different Ashes series, and if he gets into a groove and gets a big score he’ll help England’s chances greatly.

Injury concerns

Australia: It’s still a reasonably strong Australian line-up. This time around though they’ll be without Josh Hazlewood who’s out due to a side injury, with Michael Neser and Jhye Richardson battling it out for his spot.

David Warner could also miss out. He is still sore after suffering a bruised rib off of Ben Stokes’ bowling. Usman Khawaja is the current frontrunner to replace Warner if he’s unable to play.

England: There aren’t too many injury concerns in the England camp, with the only real concern being Ben Stokes‘ knee. He was looking fit and in no discomfort on Tuesday though, and looks set to play on Thursday.

Predicted XIs

Australia: Usman Khawaja, Marcus Harris, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey (wk), Pat Cummins (c), Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Jhye Richardson

England: Rory Burns, Haseeb Hameed, Dawid Malan, Joe Root (c), Ben Stokes, Ollie Pope, Jos Buttler (wk), Ollie Robinson, Stuart Broad, Jack Leach, James Anderson

The squads

Australia: Alex Carey (wk), Pat Cummins (c), Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, Jhye Richardson, Steve Smith (vc), Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner

England: Joe Root (c), James Anderson, Jonathan Bairstow, Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler (wk), Zak Crawley, Haseeb Hameed, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Ben Stokes Chris Woakes, Mark Wood

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