The Ashes 2019 series came to life with great excitement as the second Test ended in a hard-fought and tense draw. The fact that a lot of time of the Test was lost due to rain didn't prevent both the teams from producing a nail-biting contest where the advantage kept swinging until England gained ascendancy going into the final session of the match.
However, the Aussies have held on to their 1-0 lead and would look to turn around their fortunes in the next game at Headingley. But going into that match, both teams have learnt some important lessons that would help them. Let's look at the 6 things that we realised from this gripping contest.
Archer is as good in Tests as in limited-overs cricket
Jofra Archer is the flavour of the season in English cricket and the 24-year old once again proved his quality. He produced lightning-fast spells of bowling and even felled the mighty Steve Smith. Archer could well turn out to be the bowler England have been searching for in the last few years. With his extra pace and bounce, he could make England's bowling look effective even in unhelpful conditions. Otherwise, the one-dimensional nature of the bowling has let them down on several occasions. The fact that he looked as comfortable in the longest format as in the shortest speaks volumes of his ability to adjust.
Smith is the biggest factor in the series
With nearly 400 runs from three innings in this series, Steve Smith has shown himself to be the best batsmen in world cricket. However, an injury cloud now hangs over his participation in the remaining games. It can be said without any shadow of doubt that whether Smith plays in the rest of the series or not may decide if Australia retain the Ashes or not. While some other batsmen have also done well for Australia, it is Smith's batting that has kept the Baggy Greens going. Australia would give anything to have him fit in time for the third Test.
Leach is a useful bowler
Once again, Jack Leach has proven his worth to be in the English team. While Moeen Ali continues to let down the team when he is expected to make a difference, Leach has shown the skills and the temperament to succeed. His bowling in the second Test may not have been as good as that of Nathan Lyon, but he still made an impact. Safe to say, England have found a good tweaker to support their pacers.
Labuschagne is a quality player
Marnus Labuschagne created history by being the first player in the history of the game to play as a substitute. On his very second ball, he received a sickening blow himself from Archer. However, the right-hander immediately stood up and looked straight back at the bowler. This show of fortitude was followed by a brilliant innings where he weathered the Archer storm and showed good technique and temperament. His half-century suggests genuine quality and makes a strong case for having him in the team. But whom will he replace? Matthew Wade has a hundred and Travis Head has also looked good. This is a headache for Australian selectors but not picking Marnus for the next game would be a mistake.
Warner is struggling, mentally
At tea-time on the final day, the camera panned to David Warner on the Lord's balcony. Somebody was patting his head in a consolatory manner. However, the left-hander looked rather forlorn. Another low score in the second innings has led to a lot of talk about his form. It seems he is crumbling under the pressure of the hostile crowd. While he is too good a batsman not to eventually find form, it does seem that he is not in a good space. That is not great news for Australia.
Bancroft and Roy in danger
Cameron Bancroft and Jason Roy are also struggling to get good runs under their belt. Both batsmen may be on the verge of getting axed. Bancroft's situation seems more vulnerable as Marcus Harris, who showed genuine talent in the earlier series, is waiting in the wings. Roy may get another go as he is liked by the English cricket fraternity. But if the two openers keep failing, the batting line-ups would be very vulnerable.