The Lord’s Test was one of the most enthralling games of Test cricket despite the rain interruptions. The battle between the Australian batters and Jofra Archer has for sure lit up the series for the fans and the Headingly game promises more of that in the upcoming five days. The Australian team though have been dealt a severe blow as Steve Smith did not recover from his concussion in time for the third Test which means that Marnus Labuschagne who subbed for him at Lord’s will get a look in.
The Aussie middle order which has been struggling so far will have to step up at Headingly in the absence of Steve Smith. The entire Australian batting has scored a total of 406 in this series while Steve Smith himself has scored 378 in 3 innings. This shows the impact of the man for the visitors and England would feel that they have the opening they have been looking for in this series.
The hosts though haven’t made any change to the 12 that played at Lord’s. Little surprising considering the struggles of Jason Roy at the top and Joe Denly in the middle order. They though would be elated with the way Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler responded under pressure in the second Test and this means that the England Middle order is firing again.
The bowling attack is expected to be the same for the hosts but for the visitors, there might be a temptation to bring in Mitchell Starc. The opening combination for Australia has been a struggle as well which would mean Marcus Harris might get his Ashes debut. Lots to think about for Justin Langer and Tim Paine ahead of the third Test at Leeds.
Usman Khawaja (Australia): Khawaja hasn’t done much in this series so far. He has so far only scored 91 runs at 22.75 in four innings. Considering he is one of Australia’s experienced bat, he will be required to step up in the absence of Steve Smith. Australia has a problem with the openers and the middle order is inexperienced which makes Khawaja at number 3 a crucial part of the batting line up.
Pat Cummins (Australia): Pat Cummins has been Australia’s go-to bowler so far in this series. The support for him though has been lacking in terms of the pace attack. Cummins has been brilliant and has so far picked up 13 wickets at 16. He would though need more support from Hazlewood and Siddle if Australia needs to trouble the English batting. Pat Cummins as the leader of the attack will be crucial for Australia’s chances at Leeds.
Ben Stokes (England): While Rory Burns has been England’s best batter so far in the series Ben Stokes 115* kind of makes him one of the crucial members of the batting line up. Jos Buttler and Joe Root with averages of 12.25 and 24.75 haven’t been very reliable which makes Stokes very important to hold the middle order. He along with Bairstow is crucial for England in a struggling batting line up.
Jofra Archer (England): Not many players walk into a Test team with so much hype and walk out of it delivering on the hype. Archer has made the entire cricketing world take notice and he becomes the most important member of the English bowling attack and probably the one who they rely on to break this Aussie challenge. He took 5 wickets on debut and caused lots of grief for the Aussie batting at Lord’s and he will be expected to do the same at Leeds as well.
What they said?
“We know what our plans are to beat England. What we’re not going to do is get caught up an emotional battle of who’s going to bowl the quickest bouncers. And that’s the truth. I’m sure the bouncer still be part of every bowler’s armory, if it helps us get batsmen out then we’ll use it, otherwise, we’ll keep sticking to the plan,” Said Australian coach Justin Langer about getting into a bouncer battle with the hosts
“Out on the field, Jofra has clearly made a big impact. The dynamic he adds to the bowling attack is fantastic. What a couple of brilliant spells we have seen from him already. It is an exciting prospect going into the rest of the series.” Said Joe Root who couldn’t contain his excitement over Jofra Archer.
Rory Burns, Jason Roy, Joe Root (capt), Joe Denly, Ben Stokes, Jos Butler, Jonny Bairstow (Wkt), Chris Woakes, Jack Leach, Jofra Archer, Stuart Broad
David Warner, Cameron Bancroft/Marcus Harris, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Travis Head, Matthew Wade, Tim Paine (Capt & Wkt), Pat Cummins, Peter Siddle, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood/Mitchell Starc
The third Test at Headingly is a crucial one for both the teams. Australia who is already 1-0 up can retain the Ashes if they win this Test and England will need to win this one to keep this series alive. Australia will be under pressure in the absence of Smith and would want one of their senior members to step up. This will be a tough Test and both teams will want to win this one badly. A royal battle awaits fans of both the teams and this for sure will be a mouth-watering contest.