Sir Ian Botham's Ashes 2nd Test Preview: Lacklustre England Must Fight Fire With Fire

First Test Fall Out

Well, England didn’t see that coming. In some ways the 1st Test defeat was a good result for the game of cricket, because it will make for a great series to come, but that’s scant consolation to England fans, who will be disappointed with the team’s below par display in Brisbane.  

England were never going to have it all their own way Down Under.  Australia are a wounded snake – they were humiliated in the summer past and it is a fresh wound. 

There are 20 million people in Australia and they expect the cricket team to perform – so even if they’re not the best generation of cricketers this country has ever produced, they will always fight hard. 

England, meanwhile, went into this series expecting a bit of light sparring, but the hosts came out throwing punches.

Fight fire with fire

England didn’t deserve anything  from the 1st Test. Our lads were lacklustre, especially with the bat, and it marks a worrying trend of getting bowled out cheaply in the opening match of a Test series away from home. It’s happened on the last four tours. What’s even more worrying is that Australia wanted it more than England – that was the difference. 

I can’t explain why, but England seemed miles away from their best. It was as if they expected to turn up and win simply by strolling around the park. But they got bloodied by the fight of Australia; by Mitchell Johnson’s bowling and a bruising fear factor. 

England have got to toughen up and fight fire with fire from now on. 

Sledging is just banter

I think fining Michael Clarke for his sledging towards to Jimmy Anderson is an overreaction by the ICC. Clarke was unlucky because his comments happened to be caught by the stump mics when they should really have been turned down by Channel 9. The fine won’t worry Clarke, though – he fired his team up and they got the victory he craved.  

No need to panic

I still believe England will bounce back in this series. Mark my words: it will be a different England that you see in the 2nd Test in Adelaide. 

Alastair Cook and his team need to stand up and be counted. If they can’t muster a reaction then they might as well jump on a plane home now. This is big boy’s stuff – it’s not for schoolboys. 

Pitch perfect

I don’t think Australia will deploy the same short ball tactics with as much success this time around. The pitch in Adelaide is a belter by all accounts – the batting totals in recent domestic matches there have been high and everything points to excellent batting conditions. England's batsmen will get bombed all over again once they get down to Perth for the 3rd Test, so they need to make the most of the flat pitch here.

Selection dilemma

Losing Jonathan Trott is a blow for England because he’s been a key man during England’s ascent in recent times. But England can’t pine for him right now and they must not panic. They’ll shuffle the order and likely promote one of the middle order guys up to three. They will not rush the decision, though. 

Elsewhere, I’d like to see Boyd Rankin (pictured) given a go, because he bowls with more pace and aggression than any of our other guys. But that might be too much of a wildcard on this flat pitch. Perhaps it’s a case of preparing him now and letting him loose in Perth.

Match prediction

Due to the pitch conditions in Adelaide, I am predicting a draw in the 2nd Test at odds of 2.50. England do have a habit of bouncing back, so if I was to tip anyone to win the game it would be England on the rebound at 3.60. But providing the weather is clear I think it’s going to be extremely difficult for both teams to take 20 wickets.  

Top runscorer

Cook showed he’s coming into some form last time out, but Kevin Pietersen loves the ground here at Adelaide. He scored a magnificent 227 last time England were here and I think he’ll step up to the plate once more. Back him for top first innings runscorer at 4.75

Top wicket taker

Jimmy Anderson is going to be fired up out there and he will take some stopping. Back him to run riot in the first innings at 3.25. Graeme Swann will come alive in the second innings so it could be worth a wager on him to take the most wickets in the match overall at odds of 10.00. 

Series betting

I’m still confident that England will win this Ashes series. I’ve seen nothing to suggest otherwise – the only ones that can stop England winning the series our themselves. If they take the 1st Test defeat on the chin and get it right from now on then there’s only one winner. I like the price as well: it’s not often you get odds of 4.10 for this England side to win a Test series

If you’re feeling particularly daring, then I’m now tipping a series score of 3-1 to the tourists, which is top value at 13.00. 

Sir Ian Botham is an Ashes legend and a Unibet Armchair Expert. Read his betting tips on every Australia v England test match this winter exclusively here at 

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