© Getty Images
Stuart Broad, who has taken nine wickets in the two Tests, will be important for England in seaming friendly conditions © Getty Images

After a long break during which England made some much-needed changes to their outfit and Australia got some more match practice against a second-string Derbyshire, The Ashes 2015 will resume with the third Test starting at Edgbaston in Birmingham on Wednesday. The struggling Ian Bell will now bat at No. 3 for the hosts, who have also drafted in Adil Rashid to bolster their spin attack on pitches that are expected to be batting-friendly. The five-Test series is presently poised at 1-1 with both England and Australia showing firepower in the first Two Tests, and it is next to impossible to pick a favourite going ahead in this series. READ: Darren Lehmann satisfied with proceedings following Australia’s 2nd Ashes 2015 Test win at Lord’s

Australia will be happy with how things have panned out for them since that 169-run drubbing at Cardiff in the opening Test. They bounced back in the second Test, showed more life than the England team and the pitch their hosts dished out at the ‘Home of Cricket’ Lord’s, to thrash them by 405 runs. Apart from the manner in which England collapsed, the margin of defeat would hurt them for long as Australia looked clinical throughout the four days.

Interestingly, both Tests ended inside four days, which suggest both England and Australia have it in them to be absolutely dominating. England were up to the mark in the first Test, but did not have any answer when Australia got their act together and defeated them in their own game. It will surely be tough for England to erase the memories of Lord’s and keep their best foot forward in order to make a comeback.

Alastair Cook’s resilience will be the only factor that will soothe England, as their batting has faltered countless times. In the past few months, they have lost 3-4 quick wickets without anything significant on the board, and only because of their talented lower-order England have been able to save themselves from embarrassment. This will be the first priority for England to get right, as any continuation of top-order failures will give their opponents the advantage. READ: Ashes 2015: Michael Clarke’s lack of runs dangerous for Australia

To counter this, England have summoned the in-form Jonny Bairstow and axed Gary Ballance, who looked horrendous with the bat. Never in the past has the right-handed Bairstow been bestowed with so much confidence, and it will not be surprising if he turns up slightly nervous in an Ashes Test. But his current form suggests that Bairstow should continue to score runs. Joe Root and Ben Stokes are key men for England, as they play with a lot of freedom and do not look perturbed under pressure in any circumstances. For Australia, if they especially get these two men early like they did at Lord’s, it could be a win-win situation.

The form of James Anderson is another worry. The right-arm pace spearhead gets wickets whenever he plays at Lord’s, but to add to his embarrassment of not getting any wicket at his favourite hunting venue, there was a revival of Mitchell Johnson that proved the contest will only get tougher. Johnson showed tremendous improvement and proved he can be more than effective on flat decks, whereas Anderson kept looking for swing and seam movement which he never got.

England might play two spinners in Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid in case the deck looks flat. But their captain and coach Trevor Bayliss had earlier called for bowling-friendly wickets, and Mitchell Marsh added to the talks by saying England are not sure of what they want. We will have to wait for the match day to see what England finally decide to do on this front. READ: The Ashes 2015: Where have all the batsmen gone?

Australia, on the other hand, have their fair share of worries. The lower-order has not done enough to win confidence and Michael Clarke cannot be dropped keeping in mind his poor form. The availability of Chris Rogers will give them some relief, and looking at how they performed in the last Test, it can be said that an aggressive Australia would like to add more to England’s woes.

Squads:

England: Alastair Cook (c), Jos Buttler (wk), Joe Root, Ian Bell, James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Moeen Ali, Jonathan Bairstow, Steven Finn, Adam Lyth, Adil Rashid, Ben Stokes, Mark Wood.

Australia: Michael Clarke (c), Steven Smith, Brad Haddin (wk), Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Johnson, Josh Hazlewood, Chris Rogers, David Warner, Shane Watson, Fawad Ahmed, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Peter Nevill (wk), Peter Siddle, Adam Voges, Pat Cummins.

Time: 3:30 IST | 11:00 local | 10:00 GMT

(Devarchit Varma is a reporter with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)