England captain Andrew Strauss told his team to expect a “very tough” challenge as it goes into the second Ashes cricket Test against Australia in Adelaide today.
The teams enter the match with the best-of-five contest having turned into a four-game shootout after England rallied from 221 runs behind to draw the series opener in Brisbane, where Australia had won its previous six Tests.
“We haven’t achieved anything in this series yet,” Strauss told reporters. “If we to want to achieve something then we’ve got to steel ourselves for another very tough five days of cricket.”
Four years ago, Australia took a stranglehold on the series after England’s final-day collapse at the Adelaide Oval led to a six-wicket victory for the home team that put it 2-0 up. The touring side never recovered and Ricky Ponting’s men went on to sweep the series 5-0.
In 2006, under Andrew Flintoff’s captaincy, England entered the last day at 59-1, with a lead of 97 and a chance to push for the victory. Flintoff’s team slumped to be all out for 129.
While Strauss said he’s not dwelling on the past, Australia captain Ponting wants his team to draw from the 2006 experience and its record of having won seven of its past 10 matches in the so-called City of Churches.
“We’ve got a lot of great memories here,” Ponting said. “We’ve only lost one in about the last 10 Test matches that we’ve played here in Adelaide. The last Ashes series here, the Test match win here for me was probably the best Test win that I’ve been involved in.”
With England holding the Ashes after last year’s 2-1 series win in the U.K., Australia must win more games than the touring team to reclaim the trophy. England last won the Ashes on Australian soil 24 years ago, when Mike Gatting’s squad secured a 2-1 triumph.
After neither team took 20 wickets in Brisbane, another draw is the most likely result, according to bookmaker Ladbrokes Plc. The Adelaide Oval has the highest ratio of runs per wicket of any of Australia’s major Test venues.
Australia will make at least one personnel change after Mitchell Johnson, the International Cricket Council’s Player of the Year in 2009, was dropped after taking 0-170 at the Gabba, where he also dropped a catch and failed to score a run.
Dropped First Time
It’s the first time since making his debut against Sri Lanka in November 2007 that left-hander Johnson, 29, has been left out of the Test team.
Australian selectors called up pacemen Doug Bollinger and Ryan Harris into the squad immediately after the series opener, when England amassed a record 517-1 declared in its second innings to secure the draw. They’ll vie with Ben Hilfenhaus and Peter Siddle for the three fast-bowling spots in Adelaide.
“We have to pick the 11 players who are going to win us Test matches,” Ponting said. “The selections bowling-wise all come down to who we think are the best five bowlers who are going to give us the best chance of taking 20 wickets.”
England will name its team before the game with selectors “generally happy with the majority of the performances at Brisbane,” Strauss said. Uncertainty about the Australian lineup may work to his team’s advantage, he added.
“My experience in playing international cricket is that lack of stability is not a good thing, when you’re not sure what your best 11 is,” Strauss said. “That means people are generally a bit concerned about their place in the side. In that sense, that’s a good thing for us.”
AUSTRALIA SQUAD: Ricky Ponting (captain), Michael Clarke, Simon Katich, Shane Watson, Mike Hussey, Marcus North, Brad Haddin, Xavier Doherty, Peter Siddle, Ryan Harris, Ben Hilfenhaus, Doug Bollinger.
ENGLAND SQUAD: Andrew Strauss (captain), Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood, Ian Bell, Matt Prior, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, James Anderson, Steve Finn, Tim Bresnan, Steve Davies, Eoin Morgan, Monty Panesar, Chris Tremlett.
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