So after catching our breath after what was a truly enjoyable First Test, we now head over to Lords where being seen with the right people is generally more important than the cricket and forking out the best part of £120 for a ticket is never an issue, and pay well over the odds for champagne is the done thing. One of the major things that made the First Test so enjoyable was the pitch that was prepared for Edgbaston had a bit in it for the bowlers, certainly when there was some overhead cloud cover. Sure the batting on both sides (Kohli aside) was pretty flimsy but credit to the bowlers who made the most of the conditions. This unfortunately is where Lords will differ to Edgbaston as Mick Hunt has never prioritised the entertainment of the crowd compared to ensuring that the game lasts well into the final day, after all this is the cash cow Test Match, so you may as well milk it whilst you can. I would expect there to be a little movement early on, but then the pitch should flatten out and make batting relatively serene for both sides certainly compared to Edgbaston. Whether either side has the batting quality (again aside from Kohli and Root) to take such advantage is still to be believed.
England have made two changes to their Test side with a certain balding, ginger all-rounder occupied elsewhere (that’s all you’re getting from me on that subject) and Dawid Malan being dropped after suffering a difficult time with the bat at home and an even worse time in the slips. I would have liked to see Malan succeed as a Test Player but as every innings rolled by, it looked more and more that the 100 he scored in Perth was going to be the exception rather than the norm. I was slightly surprised that Ed Smith stated he felt Malan would suit away conditions rather than home conditions, as this now pretty much rules him out of any home Test series in future. In his place, the exciting Ollie Pope has been called up on the weight of runs that he has scored this season and due to England’s new focus on youth. Would it maybe preferable to have called up a certain Ian Ronald Bell, who is scoring bucket loads of runs and hence let Pope consolidate his game in Division 1? Maybe so, but I can’t fault Smith’s focus on getting a young talent into the Test team. From the little I have seen of Pope live, he does seem to be more comfortable on the back foot rather than the front foot, so it will be interesting to see how his technique goes to the fuller ball, especially if it is swinging. That being said, he has looked supremely comfortable against county attacks this season and whilst Joe Clarke can feel a little unlucky at not being the next cab off the rank, I personally feel that Pope looks the better talent. One must hope that he can take his county form into the Test arena. I would expect Mr. Mediocre, Chris Woakes, to come in for said absent all-rounder unless the dry nature of the recent weather makes Lords a bit of a Bunsen burner, which I would highly doubt (one must have 4 full days of play at least one must remember).
As for India, Bumrah is still not fit so I would presume that they will stick with the same bowling attack that caused England all sorts of problems at Edgbaston. The main call for India is whether they decide to recall Cheteshwar Pujara to the starting line up after their own batting suffered the yips in the First Test. I believe Pujara hasn’t been in the best form this season, but it still surprised me that he was dropped for the First Test as his record against England in our country is miles higher than any of his counterparts. Dhawan looks like a walking wicket to me, so India really do need someone to soak up strike with the new ball to prevent Kohli being exposed too early to a new ball. Much has been written about Kohli in the First Test, quite rightly so as his performance with the bat was heroic; however he is going to need some support from his other batsmen as no matter how talented he his, he really can’t do it all on his own.
As ever thoughts and comments on the game are welcome below: