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The Ashes: What to expect from the 2nd Test

SENIOR ANALYST

Ugly ‘staches. Obvious, but I had to get that one out of the way. Every time I see Mitchell Johnson/Pedro, I get odd cravings for tacos, and I don’t even like tacos. At the rate he’s going, though, the Aussies might want to take a razor to him, and not for shaving purposes. (UPDATE: Those mos are most probably going to be gone with Movember, as pointed out by Wes in the comments. Thank Heavens!)

Anyway, the cricket.

The last time they were in Adelaide, Collingwood was hauling England up a mountain with his bare hands. He then lost his footing and the rest of the team tumbled down with him. Not the best analogy, but that’s what happens when you try to avoid cliches like “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory”.

This is a better England, one that just made a second-innings total of 517/1. The Aussies really dominated only two phases of the first Test – when Sid Vicious ripped through them in the first innings and the Hussey-Haddin partnership. On a pitch that is more responsive, Anderson and the others will probably be better rewarded for their quality of bowling.

The Aussie batting looks slightly more steady with Hussey in form (though he was dropped early),  but once again they collapsed to 5-down for 140-odd once the 1st wicket had fallen. Clarke and North are completely out of it, but they are probably going to keep their places. The only other batsman in the squad is Khawaja, but his recent domestic form isn’t great and he can’t bowl like North, who has looked like their best spinner. Bollinger and Harris have been included in the squad and the former may get in ahead of Johnson, if the team thinktank is willing to make that huge a decision.

You might think that the Australian second innings gave them some momentum to end with, after Ponting’s dominance, but it proves nothing. The top order has, anyway, been the most consistent part of their batting, and Ponting wasn’t exactly out of form, after his bunch of 70s in India.

England’s batting looks as good as ever, with the bowling to back it up, and if KP and Swann get going, there’s no way in hell that they’re giving up the urn.

Players to watch: KP, Swann, Ponting, Bollinger (if he plays)

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