Laureus Ambassador and cricket legend Michael Vaughan says England should stand by the players who lost the Second Ashes Test so comprehensively to Australia last week at Lord’s for the next match at Edgbaston which starts in seven days.
Vaughan, captain of the victorious 2005 England Ashes team, said:
“England just had four bad days at Lord’s. But they had four good days in Cardiff before that. You can’t let it affect you, you’ve just got to realise you had an off week. They have to keep looking to be attacking, looking to be aggressive.
“I do think we need to change the order though, with Ian Bell at three, Joe Root at four and bring in Jonny Bairstow at five, he’s playing too well to leave out. Other than that I wouldn’t change a thing and go with the same team that did so well in Cardiff.”
Vaughan had nothing but praise for the recovery of the Australians, who lost the First Test in Cardiff by 169 runs, but came back to win the Second Test at Lord’s by 405 runs.
“I’m not surprised Australia bounced back. I thought they looked like the intimidating side that we’ve seen over the last two years, it was a bit of a roll back to 2013/14 (when Australia won 5-0). The way Mitchell Johnson attacked England, bowled fast, bowled aggressively, it was Australia of old. It will be interesting now to see if England can bounce back.
“The Second Test of an Ashes series is often the key one. Whoever wins it tends to grab the momentum of the series. It’s plain that cracks have opened up in the England team. Only Alastair Cook, Stuart Broad and Ben Stokes came out of it with any credit. The remaining eight have just got to get their games back in order.
“I’ll be amazed if Australia don’t go for the same 11 at Edgbaston. Peter Nevill and Mitch Marsh have brought an energy to Australia. They are youthful and exuberant. I don’t think their performance level will drop back to what it was in Cardiff, where they were appalling.”
Whoever wins what is promising to be a fascinating five-match series will be strong contenders for the Laureus World Team of the Year, a competition which historically has favoured Australia over England.
Australia won the Award in 2002, under captain Steve Waugh, now a Laureus Academy Member, and they were also nominated in 2001, 2004 and 2008, while England have only been on the shortlist once in 2012.
Who will win the series? Vaughan said: “16 out of the last 17 wins in Ashes series in English conditions have always been won by the team which bats first, so it could all change within a day at Edgbaston – you win the toss, you bat. England can do it, if they win the toss. Though I think Australia can win either way, even by bowling first.
“At the start of the series, I said 3-1 to Australia and I will stick with that, maybe 3-2, because I can’t see there being any draws, unless the rain comes in.”
The 2005 Ashes series was one of the most exciting ever, going to the wire before England, under Vaughan, won 2-1. What does Vaughan recall: “There was pressure, there was drama, no one really realised what was going to happen. Cricket was on the front page, the back page. Real characters playing against each other, head to head, real confrontation.
“And the players from Australia and England became good friends, which is what happens when you play a close, tight series, you bond together. McGrath, Warne, Ponting, Hayden, Gilchrist, they are all good pals. It’s not often you can look back on a great series and realise you have created some good pals as well,” added Vaughan.