Cantering on, this rivalry of all rivalries reaches what can be considered the tournament proper.
The first test is like some kind of computer numbers generator, spitting out random figures, “no.11 batsman… 98 RUNS!” It just wasn’t cricket, but maybe now we can get back to some sort of regularity..
I jest of course! Long live the brilliantly nonsensical narrative of test cricket, but there are a few hard facts we can look at to substantiate some form of analysis.
England’s win was narrow, which makes the fact their top 3 have yet to make 100 runs together all the more unnerving. Cook knows they need to gel and provide a platform for the middle order as the ashes pressure increases.
Positive statistics however come in the form of some batting form. Ian Bell’s century was described by many as one of his finest, and other contributions in the form of 50 from Cook, 65 from Broad and 64 from Pietersen will give these batsmen the confidence to continue to perform.
Australia should not feel intimidated though. Five of their batsmen have made 50 or more already, and if Watson and Clarke should find form England’s bowlers could find themselves experiencing some long afternoons.
Unknown quantities can be as difficult to handle as full on legends in sport, and England must make sure they don’t allow players such as Starc, Pattinson and Rogers to become the Flintoffs of their generation.
Lords will offer its own pressures. England will be aware of the expectation on them to continue winning, and more aware that the public knows how close they came to humiliation. The Australians might do well to remember the last time they won a test match at Lords during The Ashes was in that magical haze of 2005.
They couldn’t produce that kind of quality, could they?
The beauty of sport is in the unexpected. The poetry of the Ashes breeds some of the most exciting theatre competition can give us, whether England are favourites at 1-0 up or not. No one’s trying any less.
The war of the Ashes moves on. The battle of Lords is ready to begin.Tweet