The second Ashes Test starts tomorrow at Lord’s and it is imperative that England win. For if Australia win then England would need to win three straight Tests to regain the Ashes, and that is super hard to do. Not just because winning one Test isn’t easy against a decent Australia team much less three Tests, but because it depends on things like the weather too. One of those Tests could lose two whole days due to rain and force a draw. And so if we want a competitive series — and that’s all I really want here, for it to come down to the final ball of the 5th day of the final Test — then everyone but Australian supporters should be pulling for England, as difficult as that might be for some of you.
Even if England draw at Lord’s it’s a steep hill to climb, and not one I think they are capable of making. So: win at Lord’s or else.
The good news here is England have history on their side. Kind of.
As I mentioned on Twitter, England have not lost two straight matches at home in the same series since 2008 when South Africa came to town. And they have not drawn following a loss at home in the same series since 2012, also against South Africa.
Over the course of an entire English summer, they last time they drew at home following a loss was in 2014 where they lost to Sri Lanka in June and then drew with India in July.
Outside of home, for the record, the last time they lost two Tests in a row was only 18 months ago. Against Australia, in Australia, where they lost the first three matches of the Ashes at Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. Both squads look different now, of course, but not that different.
The last time they lost two in a row to Australia at home, however, was 18 years ago in 2001. A series most England fans would like to have Eternal Sunshined out of their heads forever. They lost two of the matches by an innings and in the first one England weren’t even close to making Australia bat a second time.
And because there have been some rather woeful England teams in the recent past, you have to go way back to 1993 to find a time where England drew Australia after a loss at home. You have to go way back because they simply lost so many damn matches. Poor bastards.
So what does this all mean? Well, basically, England are pretty good at not spiraling out of a series at home, except when they are playing Australia. And so like I said: England have history on their side, but only kind of. These teams are very well matched, and so with history not able to show us much, it’s pretty much a toss up.
Which brings us nicely to what I believe will be the decider at Lord’s: the coin toss. There have been 23 Ashes Tests in England since the summer of 2003. (I picked that date for it’s my opinion that that summer was more or less when the modern era of cricket began, as it was the summer the T20 debuted. It’s an arguable stance but an argument left for another day.) Of those 23 Ashes Tests in England, England won the toss 13 times. Of those 13 matches, they won seven of them. Giving them a batting average of .538 when winning the toss. Over the same course of time, they loss the toss eight times and won only two of those matches, giving them a batting average of an even .250.
And so winning the toss more than doubles England’s chances of winning.
If England win the toss, they will win the match. You heard it hear first. Tune in early.