With Australia already desperate for a win in the ongoing Ashes series, it has bitten the bullet and axed Mitchell Johnson. Captain Ricky Ponting confirmed that the misfiring left-arm seamer will be dropped due to a barren round of bowling in the opening Ashes match at the Gabba. Johnson had a lacklustre time with the ball, going for 170 in his cumulative 42 overs from boths innings without a single scalp and an economy rate of nearly four. A crucial drop catch of Andrew Strauss and an 18-ball duck while batting in the first innings, completed his woes.
Though England holds a slight edge over Australia going into the second Test at the Adelaide Oval, both sides are undoubtedly beleaguered from the first high-scoring encounter and by the look of it, another batsmen friendly pitch awaits them. The bowlers will have to brace themselves for another daunting five days. But if they persevere long enough, there might just be some unpredictable bounce to extract. It is light of just such a factor that a ineffective and tired bowler in Mitchell Johnson finds no place in the Aussie squad. After all, if Australia is to regain the Ashes, they will have to win more matches than England with draws just not doing.
It therefore seems like the perfect time for fresh bowlers to enter the fray in Doug Bollinger and Ryan Harris. The two have been integrated with the 13-man squad for the second test and by all counts, they appear to be raring to go. Ryan bowled a splendid demonstrative over to Michael Hussey in the nets to impressive the selectors who were on a site inspection, while Bollinger has also been a potent weapon just waiting to flower in the right garden.
The match at this same venue four years ago will be firmly and proudly etched in the memory of the Australians. England came into the final day at 59/1 with a lead of nearly hundred and chance to force a victory. Instead they were steamrolled by Shane Warne for 129 and the Australians cruised to an easy 6 wicket win. Now, England will be wary of that bit of Ashes history as they take guard at the Oval.
Ricky Ponting stands straight and tall as the key man for Australia. He did precious little in the first innings at the Gabba and came back with a vengeance in the second, to notch up a forceful fifty in ultra-quick time. Now, he will have to demonstrate his best again, a deft blend of grace, power and stability for which he has earned a reputation. Another thing going for Ponting is that he is the top-scorer at Adelaide with 1,433 runs, including five centuries in 14 Tests.
For England, Kevin Pietersen is the man to watch out for. He made a brisk and defuiant 43 in the first innings of the opening Test, when the odds were heavily against him. But conditions are more favourable at Adelaide fo like Pontingt, he too had fond memories at this ground. Four years ago, he dominated Warne to come up with a solid innings of 158, but was bowled by the same bowler on the day it mattered. Now he has a chance to right that wrong and ensure England comes out on top in this encounter.
Australia (probable) 1 Simon Katich, 2 Shane Watson, 3 Ricky Ponting (capt), 4 Michael Clarke, 5 Michael Hussey, 6 Marcus North, 7 Brad Haddin (wk), 8 Xavier Doherty, 9 Peter Siddle, 10 Ben Hilfenhaus, 11 Doug Bollinger.
England (probable) 1 Andrew Strauss (capt), 2 Alastair Cook, 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Kevin Pietersen, 5 Paul Collingwood, 6 Ian Bell, 7 Matt Prior (wk), 8 Stuart Broad, 9 Graeme Swann, 10 James Anderson, 11 Steven Finn.