England has made a significant change to its lineup for the second Ashes Test against Australia by including Josh Tongue, an impressive pace bowler, in an all-pace attack. This decision comes as England prepares to play on a green-tinged pitch at Lord’s from June 28 to July 2. Tongue will be replacing off-spinner Moeen Ali, who has recovered from a spinning finger injury sustained during the first Test at Edgbaston but was omitted due to concerns of a possible recurrence.
England captain Ben Stokes explained the team’s strategy, stating that the grassy nature of the Lord’s pitch influenced their decision to strengthen their pace attack with Tongue as the fourth seamer. Although Moeen, aged 36, has been able to practice bowling in the nets, the team wanted to ensure his finger would not be at risk. In addition, Stokes has been managing his persistent left knee problem, which further contributed to the decision to focus on a pace-heavy attack.
This will be Tongue’s second Test appearance, having made his debut against Ireland earlier in June at the same venue. The 25-year-old Worcestershire player impressed everyone with his five-wicket haul in the second innings of that match. He will join the experienced trio of James Anderson, Stuart Broad, and Ollie Robinson as the frontline bowlers.
Stokes expressed his anticipation for Tongue’s performance, highlighting his successful debut and the challenge that lies ahead. The absence of Moeen means that spin responsibilities will fall upon Joe Root, England’s captain and premier batsman, who had already contributed with his off-breaks during the first Test. This will be the first time under Stokes’ captaincy that England will play a Test without a dedicated frontline spinner, as Jack Leach has been unavailable due to a back injury.
Reflecting on the absence of Leach, Stokes acknowledged the significance of losing such a key player but remained optimistic about the chosen XI. He commended Root’s improvement as a bowler and praised his batting prowess, emphasizing the positive impact Root’s all-around contributions bring to the team.
Before addressing the media, Stokes acknowledged the publication of a report by the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket, expressing the players’ commitment to making the sport inclusive for all individuals and acknowledging that there is more work to be done.
To regain the Ashes after an eight-year gap, England faces the challenging task of becoming the first team since 2005 to come from behind and claim victory. Meanwhile, Australia is expected to include left-arm paceman Mitchell Starc in their lineup, and off-spinner Nathan Lyon will achieve a remarkable milestone as he becomes the first bowler in history to play in 100 consecutive Test matches.
The England XI for the second Test includes Crawley, Duckett, Pope, Root, Brook, Stokes, Bairstow, Broad, Robinson, Tongue, and Anderson.
In other news, England captain Ben Stokes expressed his deep remorse upon hearing about incidents of discrimination within cricket.