The second Ashes Test finally got underway at Lord’s on Thursday after the opening day was washed out.
Jofra Archer was handed his Test debut as Australia won the toss and decided to bowl first in what is now a four-day Test.
England decided to not bring in Sam Curran, retaining Joe Denly. Aussies, on the other hand, gave Josh Hazlewood a spot in the playing XI in place of James Pattinson.
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Captain Joe Root has demanded “a big response” from his wounded England side as they resume Ashes battle with Australia at Lord’s.
The tourists took a 1-0 lead in the series opener at Edgbaston, converting a first-innings deficit of 90 into a crushing 251-run win.
Root senses the pain that the result inflicted on the team and anticipates a fitting reaction at the home of cricket.
The weather forecast for day one is enough to dampen anyone’s enthusiasm but those within the dressing room feel like there is a point to prove.
“Last week will have hurt everyone. Everyone will be absolutely desperate to go and win this week and I expect nothing less,” said Root.
“We really back ourselves to perform and to come back strong. We’ve proven that we do that time and time again when we when we’ve been defeated, especially at home. And I’m expecting a big response from the boys.”
There will be at least two changes to the England side, with Jofra Archer set to replace the injured James Anderson and be joined by at least one of two left-arm options – spinner Jack Leach and swing bowler Sam Curran.
England could conceivably fit both in by removing Joe Denly from the top four and rearranging the order, with 21-year-old Curran receiving a warm tribute from his captain.
“Sam’s a brilliant talent, he’s got the ability to change the game with both bat and ball, similar to Ben Stokes,” said Root, who does not invoke his vice-captain’s talents lightly.
“His record is fantastic. He has had a huge impact in most of the games he’s played, and is a very promising talent. I’m sure he will play a huge amount of Test cricket.”
As for Archer, who will make his Test debut having won as many World Cups as he has played first-class matches in the past 11 months, Root was buoyant.
“He’s certainly very confident and that’s great to see in a young guy. It’s as he should be off the back of a brilliant World Cup,” he said.
“We’re very excited to see him at the start of a journey. Things don’t seem to faze him. He’ll be desperate to prove to everyone how good he says he is.”
Australia skipper Tim Paine is content that his side knows all about Archer’s abilities, not least because of his time with Hobart Hurricanes in the Big Bash League, but accepts nullifying them may be a different matter.
“A lot of our guys have seen Jofra or faced him which is a plus,” said Paine.
“It’s been in white-ball cricket but we’ve actually faced him in Australia where conditions suit fast bowling. We’ve seen him at his fastest, they know what to expect, they know how skilful he is and how good he is.
“Like most bowlers that play Test cricket there will be times where he’s going to be a real threat and we’re going to have to weather that.”
Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood are vying for the final bowling place in the Australia XI after James Pattinson was rested.
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Anderson has been sidelined by a calf injury, with his return date unclear, after he managed only four overs of the opening Test at Edgbaston before Australia went on to run by 251 runs.
“It’s unfortunate for them that he went down early in the first game, it’s no secret that he is a massive loss” said Cummins, who last week became the second fastest Australian to 100 Test wickets as he reached the mark in his 21st outing.
“He’s been their highest wicket-taker and is arguably the best bowler in the last few Ashes series.
“As soon as he went down I felt like there was a real opportunity in the second innings to try and get some overs into their bowlers and bat well – luckily we did.”
Anderson’s absence opens the door for Archer just a month after he bowled the dramatic Super Over in the World Cup final win over New Zealand.
“Some of the boys have played against Jofra at the World Cup or with him in the IPL or Big Bash League, so he is not an unknown,” Cummins said.
“We’ll do our homework but we’ve all faced him.”
Archer is not the only new face in the England attack with Jack Leach replacing Moeen Ali after the latter had a disappointing match in Birmingham.
Asked if Australia had forced England into a re-think of their strategy, Cummins said: “It might seem like a big call but Leach had a good game only a couple of weeks ago.
“We’ll just keep doing our thing. The good thing is we have a full squad to pick from. The unfortunate guys who had missed out on the bench have done well in the warm-up games.
“Whoever is the 11 that comes at us doesn’t really bother us too much.”