A fantastic second test was marred by awful weather in London.
However, the forecast in Leeds looks much more promising with blue skies forecasted for all five days.
So, can England level the series? Or will the Aussies take the little urn home again?
The Likely XI’s
Joe Root (c) Ben Stokes (vc) Rory Burns, Jason Roy, Joe Denly, Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow, Chris Woakes, Stuart Broad, Jofra Archer, Jack Leach
Tim Paine (c) Pat Cummins (vc) David Warner, Marcus Harris, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Travis Head, Matthew Wade, Josh Hazlewood, Peter Siddle, Nathan Lyon
England plan on heading in unchanged after a strong showing at Lord’s. Jason Roy and Joe Denly are closest to the edge after poor performances with the bat again. The inclusions of Jofra Archer and Jack Leach proved pivotal. Archer silenced the critics who believed he only had two strong spells in him with a fantastic all round performance taking 2/59 and 3/32 in his innings.
Cameron Bancroft must be dropped for the third test after another poor showing, with Marcus Harris his replacement. Steve Smith has been ruled out after being struck on the neck by a Jofra Archer thunderbolt. His concussion sub Marnus Labuschagne will almost certainly fill his role at no. 4. It will be interesting to see what the selectors do with the bowling attack – will they bring in some extra pace in Starc or Pattinson or keep the same four they had in London?
England ($1.85) Draw ($7.10) Australia ($2.70)
Why They Can Win
England will feel they have the momentum heading into the seconds test after having Australia well and truly on the ropes in the second test before bad light on day 5 signaled the draw. Ben Stokes is now England’s form player which can spell danger. His ability with both bat and ball usually is the barometer for the England side. Jofra Archer’s presence will make all players stand a little taller. One of the great bowling spells Ashes cricket has seen at Lord’s, and he’ll be riding that momentum again.
Australia on the other hand love an underdog mentality. David Warner will be itching to go after a poor start to the series – his aggression at the top order is exactly what the Aussies need. Marnus Labuschagne proved useful in his concussion fill-in role making 59 before being controversially dismissed. Pat Cummins recently became Australia’s equal highest ranked test bowler and will use that accolade to his advantage.
Why They Can Lose
Let’s not forget how poor England were with the bat before the second innings at Lord’s. Their guns in Root, Bairstow and Buttler all failed to fire while they seem to carry two passengers in their top order in Roy and Denly. If Australia get on top with the ball, who knows what can happen.
For Australia, it all comes down to the health of Smith. Arguably the best bat in world right now and didn’t look like being dismissed before Archer’s fiery spell. If Smith doesn’t play, it’s extremely hard to see Australia winning this test
A Smith-less Australia and an England side now full of confidence
England level the series 1-1