The second test of the Ashes tees off on Thursday in Adelaide, with England facing a challenging task following a walloping at the hands of the Aussies in the first.
The English bowed out 381 runs shy of the hosts in Brisbane a fortnight ago, exposing holes in an attack severely weakened by the early departure home of top order batsman Jonathan Trott. This raises questions for batting coach Graham Gooch and captain Kevin Pietersen as to whom will fill the difficult role of third batsman, a position Pietersen has resisted occupying. The two natural candidates are youngster Joe Root, who has played at No. 3 for his Yorkshire side and historically performs better when placed higher in the order. Stalwart Ian Bell is in the mix, offering a wealth of experience throughout the order making him perhaps the more obvious choice.
The Aussies have named an unchanged side, with questions surrounding Michael Clarke’s fitness after he sat out training on Tuesday after rolling his ankle, something officials insist will not prevent him from taking the pitch in Adelaide. Mitchell Johnson was not a part of the sides that played in the last three Adelaide tests, with much anticipation surrounding the kind of impact he’ll have on the outcome.
…his side has produced a lot of positives already…
Much interest has been generated around the new drop-in pitch, something Damian Hough, curator of the Adelaide Oval, says will still deliver a typical host pitch. While it has traditionally forced bowlers to exploit the new ball to avoid extended periods in the field, it has generally offered something later in the test for the spinners.
Clarke believes his side has produced a lot of positives already, with individual confidence and excitement building in the group, while the English remain quietly conservative about their expectations in the capital city.