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Australia vs England - 2nd Test Preview

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Australia romped home to an impressive and thoroughly well deserved, albeit slightly unexpected, victory in the first test match of this Ashes series, which finished last Sunday at the Gabba in Brisbane. It was Australia's first win since the New Years' Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) in January earlier this year, and has set things up well for a series which was expected to be all England considering the dominance of the Poms on home turf in the English summer.

England

The 381-run loss in Brisbane was by far the most glaring defeat England have encountered over the past couple of years since their impressive ascendency in the international test cricket rankings. For the English cricket team however, the talking point in the aftermath of the Brisbane test match has been Jonathan Trott's decision to withdraw from the tour of Australia and his subsequent decision to return home to England citing stress related illnesses. Trott's departure has seen him receive an upheaval of support from current and former team-mates and opposition players alike, as also from cricket administrators and from fans of the sport through platforms like Twitter. Trott's announcement has impacted his team-mates on various levels, but with England trailing 0-1 in the series, it could serve as an important development in bringing the rest of the squad closer as a team.

England's big selection dilemma before the start of the Adelaide test match is over the number 3 position in the batting line up. With Jonathan Trott no longer on tour, Joe Root, who batted at number 6 for England at Brisbane  is likely to be promoted up the order and bat at that crucial position for the remainder of the series. England's batsmen were at the receiving end of a barrage of short-length deliveries right through the Brisbane test match just as much as they were at the receiving end of some heated verbal exchanges from the Australian players on the field. Joe Root has been praised by England batting coach Graham Gooch for showing good maturity at the highest level, and Gooch has backed Root's promotion up the order to the number 3 position.

The most striking selection for England however could be the inclusion of all-rounder Tim Bresnan in the Playing XI after he was not even initially considered in the England squad for the Ashes. Bresnan, who was recovering from a stress fracture caught the selectors' eye with a speedy recovery and then picked up 4 wickets during a Warm-Up match a few days after the Brisbane test match to all but chart an unlikely place for himself in the England line-up, ahead of his most likely contender for a place in the squad, Chris Tremlett. 24-year Gary Ballance is also expected to make it to the Playing XI for England at Adelaide, which will also see him make his test debut, coming in to bat at number 6.

Australia

Australia pulled off among their most memorable victories in test match cricket of late at the Gabba, and only for the first time since their famous white-wash in the 2006-07 series, have they taken the first lead in an Ashes series. Led by Mitchell Johnson's 9-wicket haul at Brisbane, which included a spell of 5-42 in the second innings, Australia managed to bowl out England for a total under 200 twice in two innings. Skipper Michael Clarke and opener David Warner both struck dominating and counter-attacking centuries to help Australia end nearly every session on top of the Brisbane test match, ringing home further the point about their sheer domination right through the four days.

Michael Clarke was clearly relieved and delighted at his side's performance at Brisbane and was quoted saying this about his side's performance in the post match press conference " We've been preparing since losing the series in England, so it's a really satisfying feeling knowing the work we've been putting in and the way we've been thinking in this game has come true. We'll enjoy it but we're seven or eight days away from another Test match and we know England will certainly come back harder".

Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle picked up 8 wickets between themselves in Brisbane, and though they were overshadowed to a large extent in the game by Johnson's heroics, the two pacers would have their tasks cut out at Adelaide, where the pitch is expected to be dry, and not offer the sort of bounce that the Gabba had to offer. Nathan Lyon, who has played for South Australia at the domestic level, is the other key cog in Australia's bowling armory and is expected to bowl long spells on a surface that is not known to be friendly to the pace bowlers. There are indications that all-rounder James Faulkner could be drafted in to the Playing XI as a bowling all-rounder to spread out the bowling work-load for Australia's pacers though Australia look more likely to opt for Shane Watson's medium pace over Faulkner's abilities as an all-rounder on the newly-renovated cricket pitch at the Adelaide Oval.

Teams

England: Alastair Cook (c), Michael Carberry, Joe Root, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, Gary Ballance, Matt Prior (wk), Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, James Anderson.

Australia: Chris Rogers, David Warner, Shane Watson, Michael Clarke (c), Steve Smith, George Bailey, Brad Haddin (wk), Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, Ryan Harris, Nathan Lyon.

Key Players

Alastair Cook : Cook is currently facing arguably his greatest challenge as the England test skipper after the thrashing England were subjected to at the Gabba. While his own form with the bat has been steady and he looked composed at the crease in Brisbane, Cook would need to rally his players around him and make his presence as a leader felt when England step out to play at Adelaide, amidst the tense rivalry between players on  the field and the hostile attitude of the Australian crowds towards the England players.

David Warner: Warner made the headlines on and off the field for both the right and wrong reasons, and has already made a mark in this season's Ashes by striking the first century of the series. Warner had scores of 49 and 124 in the two innings at the Gabba and finished the highest run-scorer of the test match, though his batting performances were overshadowed by Mitchell Johnson's terrific bowling efforts. The conditions at the Adelaide Oval with the hard surface and quick outfields are more likely to suit Warner's positive and attacking stroke-play, something Warner would hope to make the best use to score big.

Prediction: England would be down and gutted after their demoralizing 381-run loss at the Gabba, but following Jonathan Trott's departure from the tour, the England team have rallied around Trott and spoken about the importance of rising up to the challenge of competing hard against Australia in Australia.

England's resolve and rear-guard action following the defeat at the Gabba should see them put in a much better showing and allow them to secure a draw in the more batting-friendly conditions that Adelaide will have to offer.