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Second Test preview: Neser or Richardson?

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Roar Guru
14th December, 2021

The Ashes move to the mighty Adelaide Oval for the second Test match and arguably, it is the most intriguing clash of the series.

It’s the match the English would have put a big circle around and thought, ‘This is our chance to win one and put the pressure back on the Australians’.

For the Australians, the day-night Test has been a happy hunting ground since its creation. They are undefeated from eight tries, including five of these being at this famous ground. Australia beat India in the first Test last year with complete dominance, before getting back to the ‘original’ form and losing the series.

Injuries and team selection have made this match even more exciting. For Australia, Josh Hazlewood, who is probably the most consistent bowler in the side, goes out with a side strain, while opener David Warner is expected to miss with a rib injury.

Who comes in, you ask? Well, the replacement for Hazlewood is the interesting one. It’s a two-horse race between young quick Jhye Richardson, and the veteran, Michael Neser.

Richardson has a terrific first class average of 21.11 with a strike rate of 47.5, which is obviously the reason he has already played two Tests, recording figures of 6/123 across the two games while bowling 51 overs.

He has been in fantastic form in this Shield season for Western Australia, recording 22 wickets from four matches. He puts across a very strong argument as to why he should play on Thursday.

Jhye Richardson of Australia bowls

(Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)


Neser is the experienced bowler who you would expect to be calmer and more composed in the face of any English resistance with the bat and he also boasts very good stats. He has an average of 24.77 throughout his career in first class cricket, with a higher strike rate than Richardson at 51.

His shield form this season hasn’t been as good, managing five wickets from three matches, but the big argument for Neser’s inclusion will be the fact that he skittled the English Lions in a tour match, with the figures of 7-65 across the match.

I would pick Richardson, but only just, probably because of the youth factor as well (and pace which the English hate), but it will be interesting to see which way the selectors go.

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The replacement for Warner is probably clearer cut and you would expect Usman Khawaja to be the man for the job. Khawaja averages 40 in Test cricket which is quite good, is actually in the squad which obviously is a huge advantage and although his Shield form has been deplorable this season, he’s the proven quantity, and generally, that’s the way Australian selectors go.

Personally, I’d like to see Queensland youngster Bryce Street be given his Test debut. He average 40 in first class cricket (Khawaja averages 42, for what that’s worth), and is coming off a hundred against the English Lions a few days ago in a tour match. You aren’t losing anything by giving the youngster his chance.


For England, they haven’t got many options when it comes to the batting line-up whatsoever. I agree that players like Rory Burns (who is averaging the second-highest in the team this year behind Joe Root), Dawid Malan, and Haseeb Hameed aren’t good enough, but there’s just nobody else to bring in.

James Bracey batted well in the tour match against Australia A, however, he averages 34 in first class cricket and has batted three times in Test matches for eight runs.

The bowlers are where the debate has come from after the first Test (not deservedl,y as England didn’t bowl that badly) but it’s expected that legendary fast bowler James Anderson will return for the English in what is a huge inclusion. Anderson is the type of bowler (especially with the swinging pink Kookaburra) who can completely change a Test match, and in this instance, a series.

Whether Stuart Broad plays on Thursday is the biggest talking point leading into the game and it’s an interesting question.

If Warner misses, does it make it easier for them to leave him out again? Is it too big of a risk to play him with that dodgy calf? All these questions will be racing through the England selector’s minds and it will be interesting to see what they’ll do.

At face value, you would expect Anderson to come in for Wood (who was unlucky in the first Test), which leaves it as being a battle between Chris Woakes and Stuart Broad for that second seamer spot in the team. I would personally stick with Woakes, but it’s completely justified if the English pick their champion duo in a must-win game.


I think this Test match is a lot more even than most people are making it out to be. If Warner goes earlier in that first innings, with how the rest of the team batted bar Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne, it’s a completely different game. Australia had the rub of the green in the series opener undoubtedly and I think it should have been a lot closer than what it was.

In saying that, the English top order would need to lift considerably, and based on what we’ve seen from the top order bar Joe Root and at times Malan, it just isn’t going to happen. Mitchell Starc will be the hero with the ball for Australia, and Marnus the hero with the bat.

Let’s hope we see a cracking Test match!