After being beaten in nearly every facet of the game in Cardiff, Australia face an uphill task against the spirited English side in the 2nd Test at Lord's starting from 16 July. The tourists, who lost the 1st Test by 169 runs, will have to be at their prolific best to make amends for their Cardiff loss.
The men from Down Under arrived at the first Test on the back of two thumping wins in the tour games, but the team collapsed uncharacteristically against a more aggressive and confident English side. Their batsmen failed to deliver, while the bowlers were far from threatening against the hosts.
With coach Darren Lehman whingeing about the pitches, David Warner worried about form and everyone turning their guns on Shane Watson and Brad Haddin, the Australian team appears to be panicking -- something that is only going to work against them.
If Australia intend to register their first Ashes series win in Britain in 14 years, they will have to comeback strong and be more aggressive against the hosts at Lord's.
Here's a look at the Australia's weaknesses ahead of the 2nd Test:
Poor shot selection by the batsmen
England's superior bowling effort was largely to blame for Australia's mediocre batting performance at Cardiff. But while the bowlers run away with all the credit, majority of the wickets were triggered by poor shot selection and aggressive strokeplay. Barring Chris Rodgers and Mitchell Johnson who played with substance at a strike-rate of over 61, majority of the Australian batsmen lost their wickets while looking to play expansive shots.
Twelve of the Australian wickets to fall came from batsmen looking to drive aggressively or dancing down the wicket. Brad Haddin's wicket, when he was looking to smash Moeen Ali over the top with the game needing to be saved on Day 4, defines the mindless aspect of Australia's batting during the first Test. On the other hand, England were much wiser when it came to selecting their shots against the Australian bowlers.
Mitchell Johnson's fall from grace
Bowling spearhead Mitchell Starc turned out to be the only silver lining for Australia during the first Test. Starc, who had to take pain-killing injections to bowl during the game, recorded bowling figures of 7/174 - the best by any bowler in the 1st Test. However, his hard-work went down the drain as Australia's first change bowler Mitchell Johnson was not at his 2009-11 nadir by any stretch of imagination.
His bowling figures of 0/111 in the first innings were his worst in Test cricket. Johnson leaked 4.38 runs an over across the match and rarely threatened the opposition batsmen. On one hand where Australia paid dearly for the inconsistency of its strike-bowler, England on the other hand, managed to score freely to put pressure back on the visitors. Australia will need Johnson to improve his figures at Lord's if they intend to make a comeback in the second Test.
Brad Haddin dropped Joe Root, when he was yet to open his account, in the first innings in a relatively easier chance than the one he spilled later as a fielder. The dropped chance saw Root going on to score a crucial 134 runs in the first innings which paved way for England's emphatic 169-run victory. Apart from his poor performance with the bat (22, 7), it was this dropped chance that saw Haddin attracting a lot of criticism from the critics and fans alike. Though Haddin ruled himself out of the second Test due to personal reasons, Australia will be wary of making the crucial chances count going into the second Test.
Apart from a massive change in their approach, Australia will also have to battle the injury concerns going into the second Test. Their wicket-keeper Brad Haddin has already pulled out of the Lord's Test due to personal reasons, while the strike-bowler Mitchell Starc has been battling an ankle injury. Haddin's absence has given an opportunity to New South Wales wicket-keeper Peter Nevill who is yet to make his international debut. Though recent reports suggest that Starc should be able to play at Lord's, playing will have to count as a risk given the way he had to take pain-killing injections to bowl during the Cardiff Test. Even if he misses out, Australia should find his replacement in Peter Siddle who has been bowling well this season.
The other changes that definitely require the attention of the visitors mainly include Shane Watson who failed miserably during the Cardiff Test. At a time when Australia desperately required Watson to steer them away from the danger on Day 4, the middle-order batsman was dismissed for 19 runs at Cardiff. His dismal show should allow Mitchell Marsh to replace him in the role of an all-rounder for the second Test.