Tuesday 13 August 2019 6:48 pm

Chris Tremlett: England need classic Lord's conditions to level the Ashes against confident Australia

Spring-like weather has hit London over the last few days and, with the second Ashes Test starting tomorrow morning at Lord’s, England will be hoping April showers don’t ruin their chances of levelling the series.

Having been beaten by Australia at Edgbaston, England really need the conditions to be on their side over the next five days. 

Read more: Why England can’t rely on the Dukes ball to win them the Ashes

If Lord’s provides a green-tinged pitch — like we saw against Ireland recently and in some of the World Cup games — and the overhead conditions are just right, the hosts can come back to 1-1 in the Ashes.

On the other hand, a flat pitch and sunshine would be right up Australia’s street because, as they showed in the first Test, they are much the better team in placid conditions. 

Excessive movement

The visitors are in the box seat and will arrive confident and ready to play their aggressive brand of cricket. I don’t think it’s all doom and gloom for England, but they need to fight back strongly at the Home of Cricket.

The toss is always important in Test matches and, considering the series situation, venue and conditions, this game is no different. England skipper Joe Root would love to win it and give Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes the best opportunity to take early wickets.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 26:  Stuart Broad of England celebrates taking the wicket of Andy McBrine of Ireland during day three of the Specsavers Test Match between England and Ireland at Lord's Cricket Ground on July 26, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Broad and Woakes enjoy bowling at Lord’s and skittled Ireland for 38 last month on the ground (Getty Images)

Like any team, Australia are vulnerable to the swinging ball and I also think their bowlers are not as good as England’s at exploiting them. 

Broad and Woakes enjoyed excessive movement last month when they combined to bowl Ireland out for 38, with overcast weather and a fresh pitch providing the perfect platform to run riot.

You would think Lord’s will have saved their best pitch for an occasion like the Ashes and it is very unlikely to be a minefield this time. I don’t expect scores of 500, but England probably won’t have it all their own way either.

Steve Smith haunted England at Edgbaston and the fact he scored 215 in the first innings of the 2015 Ashes Test at Lord’s won’t be lost on them. If they don’t dismiss him early and the sun comes out, Lord’s can be a completely different place to bat.

Selection dilemmas 

Mitchell Starc is back in Australia’s squad and he is their best-equipped bowler if the ball swings. I’d expect him to bowl from the Pavilion End where you can use the slight downhill slope to generate momentum and push up the speed gun.

WORCESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 07: Mitchell Starc of Australia celebrates with Tim Paine of Australia after taking the wicket of Josh Dell of Worcestershire during day one of the Tour Match between Worcester CCC and Australia at New Road on August 07, 2019 in Worcester, England. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
Starc is fit and raring to go after missing out at Edgbaston (Getty Images)

His left-arm angle, pace and ability to swing the ball back into the right-handers won’t be the only things England have to deal with, as he will also create foot holes for Nathan Lyon to use later in the match.

England have dropped Moeen Ali who couldn’t be relied upon at Edgbaston with the ball. His confidence has disappeared and his replacement, Jack Leach, will play an important role.

Read more: Chris Tremlett: Jofra Archer can be the key to dismissing Steve Smith

Australia will come hard at the left-arm spinner, like Shane Watson did against Simon Kerrigan in the 2013 Ashes, so Leach will have to hold his nerve in the first innings and wait for his chance later on to take wickets.

England's Joe Denly walks back to the pavilion after losing his wicket for 11 during play on the fifth day of the first Ashes cricket Test match between England and Australia at Edgbaston in Birmingham, central England on August 5, 2019. (Photo by Lindsey Parnaby / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. NO ASSOCIATION WITH DIRECT COMPETITOR OF SPONSOR, PARTNER, OR SUPPLIER OF THE ECB (Photo credit should read LINDSEY PARNABY/AFP/Getty Images)
Joe Denly is under pressure to perform after a few poor performances (Getty Images)

The other selection question involves Joe Denly, who I would drop for Sam Curran. I don’t know how Denly landed the No4 slot in the first place and Curran’s all-round game would give England another dimension. 

England have gaps in their order and need senior players like Root, Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow to step up and drag them back into the series.

Main image credit: Getty Images