The Ashes: Free betting preview and tips for England v Australia at Lord's

Second Test preview
Second Test preview

Australia head to Lord's for the second Ashes Test following their commanding victory over England at Edgbaston - read Richard Mann's match preview here.

Recommended bets

2pts Chris Woakes top first innings England bowler at 3/1

1pt Chris Woakes to be Man of the Match at 14/1

2pts James Pattinson to take five or more first innings wickets at 8/1

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Just in case we were under any illusions as to the size of the task facing England in this summer's Ashes, Australia's commanding victory at Edgbaston last week was a stark reminder that for Joe Root's side to regain the famous urn, it is going to take a monumental effort with marked improvement on the field.

Steve Smith was the driving force behind Australia's 251-run triumph in Birmingham, his twin hundreds grinding an England bowling attack devoid of James Anderson's services into the dirt, while Nathan Lyon and Pat Cummins picked up nine and seven wickets in the match respectively.

With Tim Paine continuing to lead with calmness and an understated confidence, Australia have every right to return to Lord's hopeful of repeating their comprehensive success on the same ground back in 2015.

England, on the other hand, have a number of major worries with Anderson's troublesome calf meaning he won't be able to enhance his outstanding record at Lord's while a loss of form for Jonny Bairstow and Joe Denly's slow start to his Test career mean too many will arrive in London under pressure.

The Lord's ground staff might also find themselves under pressure, too, a wet forecast set to keep them busy this week while England have reportedly requested a lively surface that brings their swing and seam bowlers into the game.

That poor weather forecast has seen the draw forced into 5/2 in the match odds though drawn Test matches have become a rarity on these shores in recent years and plenty will be keen to take a stand with both sides drifting a little as a result and now vying for favouritism at around the 6/4 mark.

Batting first appeared to be a huge advantage in Birmingham, particularly for Australia who have a world-class spinner in Nathan Lyon to work his magic on days four and five.

Winning the toss and batting first might well prove the key to success all summer but just to muddy the waters, overcast conditions, the prospect of artificial lighting and a green surface might well make both captains think twice come Wednesday morning.

Let's not forget, India were rolled out for 107 when batting first in similar conditions at Lord's just last summer.

England have resisted the temptation to make wholesale changes but the axe has fallen on Moeen Ali's head, his modest record against Australia and the suspicion his confidence is in tatters meaning he has made way for left-arm spinner Jack Leach.

Ali can rightly feel hard done by given the brilliant 12 months he has enjoyed since returning to England's Test side against India last summer and Leach might not find things any easier given Australia's top six is loaded with left-handers.

England's obsession with removing Smith early appears to be behind the recall of Leach - Smith's numbers against right-arm off-spin are particularly strong - but he has always been an excellent player of all types of spin bowling and the best chance of dismissing him surely lies with the seamers gaining lateral movement and bringing the slips into play.

Far too much attention has been focused on Smith's less impressive numbers against left-arm orthodox spin but the excellent Keshav Maharaj can take a fair amount of credit for that following Australia's ill-fated Tour of South Africa in 2018 and with all due respect to Leach, Maharaj is a far superior operator.

Two hundreds in the match for Steve Smith
Two hundreds in Birmingham for Steve Smith

As for Bairstow, he looks in a bad place to me but for all his numbers in this form of the game over the last year or so leave him vulnerable for his place, he has enough credit in the bank to be persisted with while I hope Denly is afforded the same level of patience having shaped with promise in his short international career thus far.

Denly made a couple of encouraging starts last week and while he needs a significant score soon, I'm pretty sure he has the game to do just that in the coming weeks.

Another change that Root and coach Trevor Bayliss have been forced to make is Jofra Archer for Anderson, the former set to make his Test debut following his rapid rise to stardom in the last few months.

The Sussex paceman was fast-tracked into England's World Cup squad earlier in the summer following his exploits in the Big Bash and Indian Premier League and he certainly lived up to expectations, taking the competition by storm in taking 20 wickets.

Following a heavy workload in the World Cup, England had initially hoped to keep Archer fresh for the latter stages of the series with the quick, flat pitches at Old Trafford and The Oval expected to require his raw pace.

However, Anderson's injury setback has forced their hand and with Mark Wood and Olly Stone also on the sidelines, and England desperate to produce a swift response to the Edgbaston defeat, there is now great expectation on Archer's young but broad shoulders.

On the face of it, England and their fans are asking a lot of a 24-year-old with only 28 first-class matches to his name but this is no ordinary cricketer and Archer's presence in England's starting XI will be a big boost for the hosts who looked devoid of firepower in the second innings at Edgbaston.

Many England fans will continue to boo Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft following their ball-tampering bans - and that is their right - but this Ashes series is better for their participation and the same can be said for Archer.

Big series need big stars and there is no doubt that Archer is one of them. He is x-factor and the prospect of him topping 90mph as he charges in against the likes of Warner and Smith is one that we can look forward to with glee.

For England, they will hope Archer's extra pace and bounce will give them a better chance of taking wickets when the ball stops swinging though their plea for a Lord's surface that encourages lateral movement might well be heeded, meaning Chris Woakes and Stuart Broad can expect to come to the fore.

Jofra Archer in action for Sussex
Jofra Archer in action for Sussex

A solid stint in county cricket with Nottinghamshire this summer looks to have done Broad the world of good and he will continue to be a big threat to Australia's left-handers when bowling from around the wicket.

As well as picking up five wickets in the first innings of the Ashes opener, Broad was excellent back at Lord's when England came from behind to beat Ireland, but so was Woakes, and I want him on side again.

Woakes was close to claiming Man of the Match honours when taking 6-17 in the second innings against Ireland and with conditions again expected to suit the Warwickshire man, he cannot be missed at his beloved Lord's.

Chris Woakes: claimed six wickets
Chris Woakes claimed six wickets against Ireland at Lord's

Woakes has a terrific record when bowling on home soil with the Dukes ball, particularly at the Home of Cricket, and following his three wickets in an excellent first-innings spell at Edgbaston, there is every reason to expect him to continue his excellent summer that has already seen him become a World Cup winner.

Concerns about a possible knee niggle appear to have subsided and given Woakes stroked his maiden Test century on this very ground a year ago, a sparkling unbeaten 137 against India that earned him the Man of the Match award, it is easy to see him turning in another big performance this week.

I'll take Woakes for top first-innings England bowler at 3/1 and for small stakes, I can't resist the 14/1 about him claiming Man of the Match honours.

While England have made changes for Lord's, expect Australia to remain unchanged despite Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood pressing their claims for selection against Worcestershire last week.

Hazlewood appears closest to earning a recall with Starc's inconsistency seemingly not fitting in with Australia's confirmed plan to constrict England's aggressive batting line-up, especially when conditions demand a more patient approach.

This is a very real shift from Australia's losing tour here four years ago when former coach Darren Lehhmann backed the likes of Starc and Mitchell Johnson to hunt wickets at any cost. It didn't work and new coach Justin Langer has been very clear in his plans for success this time around.

As such, expect Cummins, Lyon, Peter Siddle and James Pattinson to again form the four-man bowling attack.

Even with conditions this week not expected to be in his favour as much as they were at Edgbaston, Lyon will be a key man for all his job at Lord's will be to tie up an end while the three paceman go to work on a surface that certainly helped the seamers when England hosted Ireland here a few weeks ago.

With that in mind, Cummins and Siddle should enjoy themselves but it is Pattinson who I expect to be Australia's biggest threat if the ball swings around.

A genuine outswing bowler who pitches the ball up at good pace, Pattinson has excelled in these conditions for Nottinghamshire in two separate stints in county cricket and he took 5-27 against New Zealand on his Test debut on a spicy Brisbane surface back in 2011.

I thought Pattinson was excellent in England's first innings at Edgbaston, despite the surface offering little encouragement to the swing bowlers after the first day, and he ought to be more at home in conditions at Lord's.

I'm happy to take the 8/1 on offer for him to claim five or more first-innings wickets.

Posted at 2010 BST on 11/08/19.

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