Cricket: Heat on Aussies to go 1-1

Darren Lehmann
Darren Lehmann
Australia, determined to level the five-match series, will be greeted by blazing sunshine and a venue where it lost only once last century when it arrives at Lord's for the second Ashes test against England tonight NZ time.

Britain is engulfed in a heatwave which is forecast to last throughout the match, and conditions for the first test at Trent Bridge were reminiscent of the Indian sub-continent.

After heroic last-wicket stands in each innings, Australia eventually lost by 14 runs on Monday. But it will be buoyed by the resilience and resourcefulness it showed at the midpoint of a horrible year in which it has been beaten 4-0 in India and failed to advance past the first round of the Champions Trophy.

The touring side's cause was hardly advanced with news yesterday that its former South African coach, Mickey Arthur, who was sacked 16 days before the Trent Bridge test, had alleged he was the victim of discrimination and was demanding reinstatement or $A3.6 million ($NZ4.2 million) compensation.

Despite the narrow margin in Nottingham, England was a deserved winner and James Anderson, at the height of his powers, produced the decisive deliveries of the game to account for two of his 10 wickets.

Anderson removed captain Michael Clarke in the first innings with the perfect delivery, a ball which swung late into the batsman then evaded the outside edge to hit the top of the off-stump.

The second key wicket was the final ball of the match which vice-captain Brad Haddin, whose gritty 71 had threatened to snatch victory from England's grasp, edged to Matt Prior.

Australia will relish the sun and the surroundings at the home of world cricket. To recover from one-down and regain the Ashes, though, its top-order batting must fire and Usman Khawaja may come in at No 3 to replace the out-of-form Ed Cowan.

''He had a tough game,'' coach Darren Lehmann said.

''We've told Ed how we want him to play and how we want him to bat. That certainly hasn't changed from when he first came into the side.

''He'll be disappointed with the shots. So are we.

''We've certainly got to bat better as a top order, that's probably the key. We're going to bowl very well and we know we can control their batters. It's a matter of making more runs.''

Clarke, who enjoyed a wondrous 2012 with 1595 runs at an average of precisely 106, failed in both innings after his build-up was hampered by a chronic back ailment.

The only other Australian batsman of comparable pedigree is the highly gifted but perennially frustrating Shane Watson, who contributed 46 to a second-innings opening partnership of 84.

Australia urgently needs an innings from Watson of a stature to match his talent and Lord's would be the perfect setting to shrug off the under-achiever's tag.

But he will be under even more pressure after it was reported in Australia that Arthur had claimed Clarke had described his former vice-captain as ''a cancer'' in the side.

Another option is to drop a batsman and play five specialist bowlers, with off-spinner Nathan Lyon joining Ashton Agar. Agar, who fell two short on his debut of becoming the first No 11 in test history to make a century, took two for 82 from 35 overs in the second innings with his left-arm orthodox spin.

In contrast to Australia's fragile top order, England's key batsmen scored runs at critical times at Trent Bridge.

Jonathan Trott contributed 48 to his team's modest first-innings 215 and captain Alastair Cook (50) laid a solid foundation in the second with Kevin Pietersen (64).

The crucial innings came from Ian Bell, whose 109 in more than six hours was perfectly calibrated for a sun-baked pitch demanding concentration with its low, slow and sometimes unpredictable bounce.

England has named the same 13-man squad for the test with the final decision again resting between the pacemen Steven Finn, Tim Bresnan and Graham Onions.


Second test, Lord's, from 10pm
The teams (from)
England:
Alastair Cook (captain), Joe Root, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, Jonny Bairstow, Matt Prior, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, Steven Finn, James Anderson, Graham Onions.
Australia: Shane Watson, Chris Rogers, Ed Cowan, Usman Khawaja, Michael Clarke (captain), Phillip Hughes, Steve Smith, Brad Haddin, Ashton Agar, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Peter Siddle, James Pattinson.