Ashes 2013: England’s captain Alastair Cook ignores history to focus on here and now

Australia have wonderful record at Lord’s but controversy is still stalking them and momentum points to an England victory

Cricket Correspondent

All is right with England’s world. They are 1-0 up in the Ashes. Their opponents are suffused with controversy which they may rebuff but cannot entirely expel. Four years ago, the Lord’s bogey against Australia which had lasted for three-quarters of a century embracing 18 Tests was finally laid to rest with a 115-run victory.

Thus, England should be expected to prevail in the second Test which starts today. The past, the present, possibly the future seem to be with them.  However well Australia performed in the first match at Trent Bridge, surprising perhaps even themselves, they still fell short.

It was agonisingly close and 14 runs still do not seem to do justice to the tension of it all after four days of reflection. The feeling now is that it could go one of two ways for the tourists.

Either they will be galvanised by their endeavours at Trent Bridge, aware that there is not much between these teams after all and that England are there for the taking. Or they may be so crestfallen after giving so much of themselves over five days of slugging it out and still losing that they will have nothing left to give. No Englishmen should assume the second of those possibilities is likely.

Alastair Cook, England’s captain, tried to make light of history yesterday in assessing what his side must do to retain the lead and ultimately the great prize. It was a curious stat, he said, about England not beating Australia in 75 years at Lord’s because he was not sure how many of the players involved in this match had taken part in those games. Well, none as it happens.

At this point, a young female in the audience fainted because of the heat and Cook lost his thread of thought. But he would do well not to overlook completely what has happened before.

Australia have five times come from 1-0 down in an Ashes series of five matches to win, three at home, two away. The most recent occasion was in 1997 when England astonished the planet by winning at Edgbaston, bowling out an undercooked touring side on the first morning, but then spending the rest of the summer being duffed up for their cheek.

Back in 1909, an England team possessing some of the most legendary cricketers to have played the game – Jack Hobbs, Wilfred Rhodes, George Hirst, CB Fry, Gilbert Jessop – won the first match in Birmingham by 10 wickets but within a month had been defeated at Lord’s and Headingley to lose the Ashes.

England’s recent record at Lord’s is splendid. Their only defeat at the ground since 2005 was against South Africa last year. Australia, as it happens, won their last Test at Lord’s, which was not against England in 2009 but against Pakistan in the neutral series the following year.

That decisive match against South Africa may also be pertinent to the present. Part of the reason that England lost was that they were in turmoil because of the unpleasantness with Kevin Pietersen which had prompted the selectors to drop him.

The abiding image from the match is of the home side’s captain, Andrew Strauss, playing the most distracted of strokes, an expansive shouldering of arms, to Vernon Philander in the second innings to be out lbw. Nobody could deny that the shot was fashioned by events off the field as much as on it.

Michael Clarke, Australia’s captain, is adamant that the events at Trent Bridge followed by the leaking of court papers involving their former coach, Mickey Arthur, will not affect his team. He was again resolute in making it seem that he and Shane Watson – who, according to Arthur, Clarke said was “a cancer in the team” – were joined at the hip.

Clarke said that Australia’s record was relevant. Of the total of 34 Test matches between the sides at the ground, Australia have won 14 and lost only six. “It feels like a home ground, I guess, for us. I don’t know the main reason as to why Australia has had so much success on this beautiful oval. It’s something you certainly write into the diary when you find out the Ashes series is on, the Lord’s Test.” 

Only an Australian would describe Lord’s as a beautiful oval but perhaps MCC should consider putting the phrase into their promotional literature in future.

The pitch was under cover for most of yesterday. When it was briefly revealed it looked to have more grass on than might have been expected. But it is bound to be dry, it will probably be slow, it should help spin and it will need patience.


Both sides have selection issues, England over a bowler, Australia a batsman. Cook and the England coach, Andy Flower, will probably keep faith with Steve Finn on a ground where he has taken 29 wickets in five Tests and 72 in another 21 matches for Middlesex.

But Chris Tremlett has been practising with England for the last two days and had a bat yesterday, Tim Bresnan and Graham Onions are already in the squad. Their presence is not designed to make Finn feel comfortable about his place in the side.

Australia’s dilemma revolves around Ed Cowan. He has played in Australia’s last 18 Test matches, the first 17 as opener before being asked to fill the blue riband position of No 3 at Trent Bridge, the place occupied until recently by Ricky Ponting and in the past by Don Bradman.

Cowan responded to the challenge by playing two needlessly extravagant drives, one against pace, the other against spin, which had him caught at slip. He is a better player than that and it looked as though he had been overwhelmed by the occasion. If he plays it will be in the knowledge that it is for his place.

But if the Lord’s Test proves to be Cowan’s last so be it. The most important thing is that he makes the team. Make no mistake, there is nothing bigger in a cricketer’s life than to play in an Ashes Test match at Lord’s.

Second Ashes Test: Lord’s details

* Probable teams

England A N Cook (capt), J E Root, I J L Trott, K P Pietersen, I R Bell, J M Bairstow, M J Prior (wk), G P Swann, S C J Broad, J M Anderson, S T Finn.

Australia M J Clarke (capt), S R Watson, C J L Rogers, E J M Cowan, S P D Smith, P J Hughes, B J Haddin (wk), P W Siddle, M A Starc, J L Pattinson, A C Agar.

* Umpires

K Dharmasena (S Lanka) & M Erasmus (SA)

* Weather

Today Hot and sunny. Max temp: 29C

Tomorrow Similar conditions; 26C

Sat Cloudy with some sun; 23C

Sun Staying mainly sunny; 25C

Mon Sunny, chance of showers; 27C

* Pitch report

Dry, both sides will expect reverse swing but it may not deteriorate quickly.

* Odds: Eng 10-11; Draw 13-5; Aus 3-1.

* TV Sky Sports Ashes, 10am-7pm

* Remaining Tests

Third 1-5 August Old Trafford

Fourth 9-13 August Riverside

Fifth 21-25 August The Oval

Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice