I had a completely different article planned.
I was going to debate the merits of Josh Hazlewood or Mitch Starc being included at Lord’s, using the slope to exploit the English left-handers.
I was then going to outline that Hazlewood actually bowled much better than Starc at Lord’s in the 2015 Ashes and had a much better economy rate, although Starc is a much improved bowler now.
Then I read the weather forecast in London this week.
The Test is set for a deluge of rain all day Wednesday. There may be no play or less than 30 overs. The weather looks better on Thursday but then very sketchy on Saturday and there are some showers about the other two days. It certainly doesn’t look like it’s going to be any more than four days play and probably much less.
The Australian selectors must look at this match differently. It’s a risk and I would wait until Wednesday morning, but if fewer than four days play is forecast, then Australia should do the unthinkable: drop Nathan Lyon and go for four seamers, picking Marnus Labuschagne for his batting and leg spin.
The Aussie batsmen will be tested by damp, seaming conditions that mimic last month’s Ireland Test at the same venue or the Australian internal game in Southampton where Cameron Bancroft and Labuschagne gritted it out.
Chris Woakes has been deadly at Lord’s. Surely England will want to utilise his talents.
So perhaps Starc, Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and James Pattinson should all have a game here. Australia holds a deadly attack of four pacemen with variation, and you could include Labuschagne for his leg spin and his extra batting.
Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne used to bowl well in tandem at Lord’s, and in 2013, Australia had a nightmare batting under cloud cover assisting the seamers.
This is different. Australia have come equipped with five very skilled pace bowlers and a world-class spinner.
Do we need Lyon’s bowling if the match doesn’t stretch the full five days? Justin Langer and the coaching staff need to have a good plan on Wednesday morning.
No doubt Langer will be very shrewd with his selection. He got it right on the brown deck in the first Test when many were questioning a few of his choices. I would have chosen the same side except with Labuschagne in for Matthew Wade, but due to the conditions and the brown deck, Langer got it right there.
He has said each Test could be different. He was wise in his selection in the first Test. Will Langer and the selectors follow the malleable strategy at Lord’s, given the conditions?
In 2015, Australia stuck with the same side that won so well at Lord’s by 405 runs and remained unaltered at Edgbaston. They were obliterated in the following Test for not assessing conditions and picking their strongest line-up.
Edgbaston was a brown deck that eventually played like a flat wicket subject to day five spin and some brilliance from Cummins.
At Lord’s, you have to suspect the ball may move around. Solid, gritty English Test technique in the first innings may be critical. County form may matter here.
Let’s see what the pitch is like early on the first day.