Ashes 2013: After a perfect start, the only problem is actually coming up with something to follow it...

Wonderful series ahead as Australia prove to be no one’s whipping boys

The second Test match of the 2013 Ashes series begins at Lord’s on Thursday. To begin to emulate the first it must be riveting from toss to conclusion, contain two or three performances of the very highest class combining guts and skill, provide controversy and competition in equal measure and reach a climax that is both compelling and unwatchable. So no pressure there then for the greatest cricket ground in the world.

In the long period of assessment and prediction before the first ball was bowled at Trent Bridge (the second greatest ground anyone?) it was  generally recognised that the upshot might depend chiefly on two factors. The first was whether England were as good as generally thought, not least by themselves, the second was whether Australia were as bad as they themselves might have feared.

Those questions went some way to being answered in Nottingham: maybe and definitely not. If England prevail at Lord’s for the second time in  succession, after failing to beat Australia there for 75 years until 2009, they will take a 2-0 lead in the series. Australia would need to win the next three to regain the Ashes.

But that is to leap too far ahead for now. What five days in Nottingham did, as if it needed to be done, was to place Test cricket in a showcase that could sit proudly alongside one holding the Crown Jewels.

At lunchtime on the final day, BBC’s Test Match Special was receiving messages from people who were listening to events unfold in some of the more unlikely places around the globe,  including China and the Arctic Circle, rapt as the game reached its dramatic conclusion. On all parts of Planet Cricket the match had been enthralling. The decision by the television rights holders, Sky, to establish a special Ashes channel is looking inspired.

If a marketing company had brainstormed a promotional tool for Test cricket, it could not have emerged with a match quite as constantly engrossing. One side gained an advantage only for the other to hang on in there and then the other sneaked ahead again. The tension, the to-ing and fro-ing, the ebbing and flowing endured over all 14 sessions for five days and 14 runs was the eventual margin. It was actually only the 11th closest in terms of runs in Ashes history but that hardly does it justice.

Perhaps still stunned by what he had witnessed, Andy Flower, England’s head coach, was more measured than might have been expected even from such a calm head. “Obviously they’d fought back brilliantly and it was a great game,” he said. “Well done to them for getting that close. But I always believed that we could create enough chances to win that game. It’s great for all of us to be involved in such a great Test and I’m sure it will be a great series one way or the other. It was a brilliant game to be involved in.”

England announced an unchanged squad of 13 yesterday for the Lord’s match but that does not make the  selection of the final XI any more straightforward. That too will probably be unchanged.

Although Steve Finn was disappointing at Trent Bridge, it would be odd to omit a Middlesex bowler on his home ground for either of the two northerners, Tim Bresnan or Graham Onions. Finn was stoutly defended by Flower for the two breakthrough wickets he took in Australia’s first innings but his struggle for length throughout the match was reflected in the fact that Alastair Cook, England’s captain, was so loathe to bowl him by the end.

Perhaps nobody should have been surprised. Finn has been out of form for much of the summer but a man of 6ft 8in in height whose chief weapon as a fast bowler is bounce was being expected to ply his trade on a low, slow, arid strip of turf. It was a big ask and if Lord’s is similar then someone who can churn out over after over aiming for the top of off stump may be a wiser option.

Flower also defended Stuart Broad’s decision not to walk of his own accord when he edged the ball in England’s second innings and was given not out. It was against the general flow of public if not player opinion but brutally candid. “When I played cricket I didn’t walk when I’d edged it so I’d be a hypocrite to say that all other players should walk,” he said. “Most players leave it to the umpires to make the decision and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.”

It is pretty certain that the bowling attack will not stay the same throughout the two back-to-back series. England do not have an over-abundance of bowling reserves and Chris Tremlett, as he was three years ago, is being groomed for the trip Down Under this winter. If David Saker, the bowling coach and a huge fan of Tremlett, likes what he sees in the England nets in the next two days then he may be called to arms sooner.

Flower denied all knowledge of what the pitch at Lord’s may be like but it would be a surprise to turn up to find that it is anything other than bone dry, slow and likely to encourage both reverse swing and spin. England have made their bed and for now are wallowing in it.

News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Extras
indybest
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
travel
Arts and Entertainment
music
Sport
football
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home