Surprise Element of Day-Night Test Offers England a Chance
Ben Stokes is Down Under. Sadly for England fans, he’s not riding to the rescue of the side in the Ashes – as he’s in New Zealand to play for Canterbury.
Oh how England could do with Stokes’ all-round skills, not to mention his hunger and desire, but he remains suspended as Avon and Somerset Police continue their investigations following his arrest on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm in Bristol in September.
Instead, England will head into the second Test in Adelaide this weekend without Stokes, and knowing they need a positive result in at least one of the four remaining games to retain the Ashes. After a 10-wicket defeat in Brisbane, Joe Root’s men have their backs against the wall.
Adelaide potentially offers the best chance for England to get a positive result, as it will take Australia out of their comfort zone.
Despite having flaws in their makeup, Australia are a mighty unit in favourable conditions on home soil. The hard, fast wickets play to their strengths – as does the Kookaburra ball, which does not offer as much assistance as the Duke ball, used in England.
But in Adelaide, the rules of engagement will shift a shade – with the Test being a day-night match played under lights with a pink ball. Steve Smith’s Australia may well revel in the occasion, upping their game yet further. But the conditions are an unknown and England must use it to their advantage.
Barring any last-minute injury problems, Australia are likely to be unchanged for the Test. In contrast, England have to make changes. The batters are set to get another chance to prove themselves, as only Alastair Cook – who is secure at the top of the order for the moment – failed in both innings.
England started well with the ball, but lacked penetration after that early spell and the attack will need to be freshened up. James Anderson and Stuart Broad are the attacking spearheads and will remain so, with the hope being that the change in conditions will provide them with some assistance both in the air and off the pitch. But the support pair of Jake Ball and Chris Woakes is under threat.
Australia have made their intentions clear with the ball, they will go at England hard and aggressive, particularly from short of a length, and it may be that the tourists have to fight fire with fire. The bowler best equipped for that role is Ben Stokes Mark Wood, the Durham paceman who can send it down in excess of 90mph.
Wood is currently with the England Lions, so it would be a bold call to draft him in for the second Test. But with the series on the line, radical thinking may be required.
188BET feel Australia will tighten their grip on the series in Adelaide, as Smith’s men are priced at 1.61 for the win, with England at 3.45 and the draw 5.10.
The series betting makes even grimmer reading for England, who are now out to 8.00 with 188BET – while Australia are 1.18 and the draw 11.0.
A defeat in Adelaide, and there’s likely no way back for England.