Brighton target Yves Bissouma would help unlock their attacking pedigree.

The 21-year-old midfielder has been linked with a move to the Premier League over the last few days, and he could be the signing that makes Chris Hughton’s team one to watch in 2018/19.

Brighton and Hove Albion are reportedly closing in on Lille midfielder Yves Bissouma.

The Ligue 1 club want £17.5m for their man’s services, and the 21-year-old looks set to reject Portuguese giants Porto in favour of a move to the Amex stadium, should the Seagulls cough up the money.

Many Albion fans will agree that the Club has been very shrewd in the transfer market this summer – but this big money deal could well be the star signing that makes the Seagulls one of the teams to watch out for in 2018/19. Bissouma would not only bolster the centre of Brighton’s midfield, but also help unlock their attacking pedigree.

The central midfielder broke into the first team at Lille two years ago and made 30 appearances for Les Dogues last season. He has already got 15 international caps for Mali and has scored three goals for his country.

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Yves Bissouma in action for Lille. (Image Credit: SKY SPORTS via. http://www.skysports.com/football/news/11741/11436184/brighton-in-talks-to-sign-lille-midfielder-yves-bissouma)

According to whoscored.com, Bissouma recorded his best stats playing as a defensive midfielder – with a rating of 7.62. Should he take up a defensive role within the Albion line-up, it would enable Dale Stephens or Davy Propper to take up a more attacking position next season.

Propper has been used as a number 10 in the Dutch national team, and could now look to support Pascal Gross further up the pitch when the side are threatening in the final third.

Bissouma would hopefully help improve the team’s away record next season, which is one of the aims I’m sure Chris Hughton has for the upcoming campaign.

Brighton finished bottom of the away form table in 2017-18, registering just two wins (against West Ham United and Swansea City) and 11 points away from the Amex. Bissouma would add that extra protection for the backline. His physical presence, with Shane Duffy and Lewis Dunk behind him, could provide Brighton with a strong defensive spine that enables them to build a more offensive team around them.

It’s not clear yet how Hughton plans to set his side up next season – with plenty of forward options to choose from: Glenn Murray, Jurgen Locadia, Florin Andone, Tomer Hemed and Sam Baldock.

He could go 5-3-2, with Gross and either Stephens, Propper or Beram Kayal pushing forward to support the two strikers. Jose Izquierdo, Solly March, Bernardo and Bruno could all play as wing backs, leaving Dunk, Duffy and Balogun as a solid back three.

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Could Brighton and Hove Albion line-up like this next season?

I very much doubt he will continue to use the relatively successful 4-4-1-1 formation which he used predominantly last season, considering who has joined the club since last August.

We must remember that the Bissouma deal hasn’t been finalised yet, but should it happen, Albion fans should get very excited for the season ahead.

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Semesa Rokoduguni and Denny Solomona will have no better opportunity to prove themselves in an England shirt.

Head coach Eddie Jones faces a potential selection headache ahead of England’s first autumn Test against Argentina on November 11th.

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Semesa Rokoduguni. (Image Credit PA/EXPRESS via. http://www.express.co.uk/sport/rugbyunion/735533/England-Semesa-Rokoduguni-dropped-Argentina-Jonny-May-starts

The Red Rose have usually got a plethora of talent in the wing position at their disposal, but that has been hijacked by injuries with Jack Nowell, Eliot Daly and Jonny May all ruled out for the Pumas clash.

Marland Yarde – who controversially joined Sale from Premiership rivals Harlequins earlier in the week – has been left out of the squad altogether until his situation has been fully resolved.

All of this means Bath’s Semesa Rokoduguni has been rewarded with the recall he’s most certainly deserved, after making a superb start to the season at the Rec.

The Fiji-born winger has scored seven tries in seven Premiership games this season, which is the same amount as rival May. It isn’t just his attacking nature that has got critics talking either. His defensive work has improved considerably. He is now making tackles he once wasn’t, and isn’t dropping as many high balls.

This is something that Jones has taken a liking too, and now he could give Rokoduguni another bite at the cherry after making his debut against New Zealand two years ago.

But no one can rule out Sale’s Denny Solomana either.

The 23-year old has scored six tries in seven matches for his club and he will want to desperately make amends after getting sent home from England’s summer training camp back in August for a drinking incident.

Solomana, who switched from rugby league to rugby union last year, scored the winning try in that unforgettable match against Argentina in June, and won many admirers for his performances in South America.

For both of them, there is no better opportunity to fully prove themselves to Jones, their teammates and England fans that they deserve to wear the Red Rose jersey.

The stage is set: Twickenham stadium with 80,000 fans singing and chanting Jerusalem. There is no better place in world rugby for an England player to prove their worth, especially with a World Cup less than two years away.

With making the squad for Japan 2019 the long-term target for most of these players, the likes of Rokoduguni and Solomana have a much more immediate task to complete. They will both be as determined as ever to cement a place in the England team going into 2018.

England v South Africa: Joe Root will never have an easier Test match as England captain.

England convincingly beat the Proteas by 211 runs thanks largely to the new skipper and Moeen Ali. 

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Joe Root is England’s 80th Test Captain. (Image Credit: AP/FIRST POST via. http://www.firstpost.com/sports/england-vs-south-africa-joe-root-stars-on-opening-day-with-an-unbeaten-184-3786397.html)

Ahead of the 2017 Test series against South Africa, the spotlight was firmly on new England captain Joe Root.

Five months since he was announced as Alastair Cook’s successor, the 26-year old has had plenty of time to prepare for the role and the challenges that come with it. His first opponents South Africa may not be the force they were a few years ago, but their record on these shores speaks volumes.

The Proteas’ last defeat at the ‘Home of Cricket’ came in 1960, and they haven’t lost a Test series in England since 1998.

So when England recorded an comprehensive 211-run victory with a day to spare on Sunday, it looked as if Root had got all of his decisions correct.

But one could easily forget how South Africa helped the new captain find his feet with some clumsy fielding and lacklustre batting.

Dropped catches, lazy bowling and wasteful with the bat, South Africa’s downfall was a painful message to Du Plessis to rescue them. Their second innings total of 119-all out was a sorrow viewing in particular.

But this Test could have gone a lot differently had it not been for Root himself. Had the England captain not taken England’s first innings by the scruff of the neck with that all-important 190, then the hosts may well have ended 100-runs short of a respectable score.

Once he was out on the crease, he was able to relax and play his game. Unlike Alastair Cook during the back-end of his captaincy, Root’s batting didn’t seem to have been affected by the added pressure of leading the team.

However, he had plenty more to think about during his second innings. Declarations and which bowling attack to use when South Africa chase would have been firmly on his mind as he stepped out of the pavilion to bat. He only scored five runs before being bowled by Keshav Maharaj but again as he grows into his new role, he will find it easier to not think too hard about those decisions and focus solely on scoring crucial runs for his country.

On a whole, it was a straightforward introduction to the captaincy for Joe Root, but I doubt he will ever get an easier Test match as England skipper. The conditions didn’t change all week, he never had a major partnership he desperately needed to break up, and all his players contributed either with the bat, the ball or in the field. A Captain’s dream.

South Africa will (hopefully) not be as poor in the field  or with the bat as the series heads to Trent Bridge. Du Plessis returns to the side, and brings with him his experience and leadership that the South Africans missed at Lord’s. He will no doubt come in and fire the tourists up for the second match, and Root should be prepared for a response from the Proteas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Russia not solely to blame for hooliganism at Euro 2016

Euro 2016 has been quite a slow burner on the pitch. After 28 matches, the tournament has produced just 51 goals, an average of just 1.82 goals a game. It hasn’t been as exhilarating as Brazil’s group phase two years ago, but off the pitch it has been far from being boring, all for the wrong reasons.

With security tightened up, many were fearing that a terrorist threat or attack could potentially ruin the footballing spectacle. No one was quite ready for the mess that was about to unfold in the streets and stadia from Eastern European Nationalists.

Why have they decided to bring violence across to France when the nation is already on red alert? Because it is a place where they feel they have a voice. The Croatians and Russians have been the leading forces both in the stadiums and in the streets, proclaiming that “UEFA is poisoned by fraud and corruption.”

If that’s so why don’t your national teams agree? The fact they are taking part in the competition must mean they are content with how it has been governed.

It may well be that internal affairs in their own countries have led to the outburst of violence, or that they just enjoy the hooligan lifestyle- maybe they have all watched Green Street one too many times.

Too many England fans felt like they were as hard as Vinnie Jones and Danny Dyer when squaring up to the Russians, but they were in fact just adding to the mixing pot of sour tasting stew these hooligans had already conjured up.

Are the French and UEFA right to have part of the blame thrown towards them? Of course they are. The segregation at all stadiums is not policed enough, meaning a repeat of the events at Marseille could well happen again.

Marseille is where it all began, where English and Russian fans collided for three solid days.

Following the two nations’ 1-1 draw at the Stade Velodrome 10 days ago, Russian “supporters” lit flares, a passive way of signalling their troops to get ready to charge. The referee’s whistle was like a starting gun used at an 100m final, as at the very moment the whistle touched his lips, the Russians sprinted towards the England fans.

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England fans trying to escape the oncoming Russians. (aljazeera.com)

Many of the Three Lions supporters, especially the ones with children, jumped over barriers at least 10ft high to avoid the inevitable violence that was about to erupt.

Russia were given a pre-determined disqualification by UEFA, should their fans cause any more trouble inside the grounds, the only place that Europe’s football governing body could control.

Outside the grounds, it was the French police who had to deal with the violence out in the streets. Water cannons and tear gas have been used frequently in an attempt to stop the fighting, with mixed results.

Russian fans again were the centre of attention in Lille when they came up against the England and Welsh fans last Wednesday, before more than 10 Russians were kicked out the country by the time they faced Wales in their must-win clash last night. They lost 3-0.

During Croatia’s match with the Czech Republic in Saint-Etienne, Croatian fans threw flares and firecrackers onto the pitch, with one set of firecrackers exploding right next to a steward. Within the Croatian stand, fighting broke out between themselves.

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Croatia players Mario Mandzukic and Vedran Corluka try to stop the Croatian fans. (goal.com)

The Croatian national team manager described them as “hooligans, not fans, hooligans who don’t deserve a place in any society.”

The incidents seemed to unsettle the Croatian players on the field, as they let their 2-1 lead slip to the Czech Republic as the game ended 2-2.

Four Poland fans were today arrested ahead of their match with Ukraine, who themselves have caused trouble over the last ten or so days.

With Marseille once again the battleground, police used pepper spray and batons to try and end the fighting, to no avail.

With Russia and Ukraine exiting the competition, one would think the violence should calm down.

But things aren’t that simple. With the recent scenes of violence that have occurred in France, it makes one wonder with trepidation that in two years time, the World will be travelling to Russia for the FIFA World Cup.

With fierce cities like Kazan, Sochi and St.Petersburg hosting matches throughout the tournament, is it right for them to host such a mega event that tries to make the world feel together and safe. In doing so that includes equality for all genders, race and sexuality.

UEFA and FIFA will need to re-examine the videos of the Russian mob, and make a decision quick, with threats of boycotting the World Cup already being voiced over by African countries and players.

 

 

ASHES 2015: Why The 5th Test is as important as any other for England.

For many, the result at the Oval in the final Ashes test of the current series will seem irrelevant, with England already regaining the Ashes up in Nottingham two weeks ago.

But Alastair Cook’s men can’t be complacent on the field, as Australia will look to seek little consolation with victory. It will also be the final test appearances for both Michael Clarke and Chris Rodgers. Both will look to end with a flourish.

Clarke is disappointed with his performances this summer, but is grateful to the Australian Cricket Board for what has been a glittering career.

“I would have liked to have played better in this series, admitted the Australian skipper.

“But I think it’s the right time for me to walk away.

“I’ve given my heart and soul to Australian cricket and every time I’ve walked on I’ve given everything I had for the team.

“I’m very fortunate to be the 43rd Australian cricket captain and I’m very proud and honoured to have had the opportunity.”

England will be attempting to win a fourth home Ashes test in a single series for the first ever time. They will have to do that without James Anderson, who isn’t 100% fit. But with an unchanged side named for the Oval, you can expect England to attack with a similar ferocity as at Trent Bridge.

A win would also see Cook and Co. rise to second in the ICC world rankings, ahead of Australia. Draw or defeat would see Australia retain their ranking of second, with England just behind in third.

For most of the team though, the main reason to put in another top quality performance is so they can carry momentum with them to the UAE this winter, where they face Pakistan.

Players like Adam Lyth and Mark Wood will hope to catch the eyes of the England selectors with solid displays. Lyth has struggled with the bat, scoring the second-lowest average for England in this Ashes series (12.28).

Joe Root will look to cement his place at the top of the batting rankings with a big score at the Oval, with Stuart Broad (rank 2nd) also looking to edge ever closer to Dale Steyn (rank 1st) at the top of the bowling rankings.

Finally, if England win it will be the sixth test victory of the calendar year, the first time that has happened since 2011, when they were ranked the best test team in the world.

So with so much at stake, and a chance for a little bit of payback for the stick and abuse the side suffered down under 18 month ago when they were whitewashed 5-0, why should England ease off?

Australia are on the ropes, with players now calling it a day and injuries, England have never in my lifetime had a better opportunity to rub salt into the very deep Australian wounds.

With a green pitch, fans can expect another wicket-fest like the other test matches this summer. With bounce and swing, the fast pace bowlers can once again commence a fierce attack at the stumps.

It will once again be a very important coin toss when Alastair Cook and Clarke meet on the wicket tomorrow morning- with both teams hoping to bowl first and gain an early advantage.

*Quotes from BBC Sport.

ASHES 2015: ENGLAND SMASH AUSTRALIA BY EIGHT WICKETS TO RETAKE SERIES LEAD.

3rd Test, Day Three, Edgbaston. 

England managed to win the third Ashes test with two days spare, as they crushed Australia by 8 wickets at Edgbaston.

Ian Bell continued his resurgence with the bat with an unbeaten 65, as the hosts managed to chase down their target of 121 for victory inside 32.1 overs.

Joe Root also contributed an unbeaten 38 to settle the match, despite the hosts losing captain Alastair Cook for just seven at the start of the innings.

Australia had earlier added 97 runs before losing their three remaining wickets- with Steven Finn recording his best test figures of 6-79.

The tourists slogged the ball around the ground, with Peter Nevill leading the charge by reaching a half-century. He was caught behind not long after though, when he edged Finn’s delivery into the gloves of Jos Buttler.

Mitchell Starc and Paul Hazlewood added 28 before the latter was caught brilliantly by Root.

Starc, who had also slogged his way past fifty, clipped Moeen Ali’s delivery to extra cover, and to the roar of the England crowd- England had set themselves up nicely to finish the match within nine sessions.

England were however up against a resilient Starc.

As a result, the Aussie fast bowler dismissed both Cook (7) and Adam Lyth (12) early on. He clean bowled the England skipper with a fastball that swung inwards devilishly.

He then caught under pressure Lyth for LBW to leave the home fans holding their breath.

But Ian Bell, who has received criticism throughout the series, proved his credentials with a calm, professional half century, which included five boundaries. However he did offer Australia a great chance for his wicket.

Australian captain Michael Clarke spurned a simple catch when the Warwickshire batsman edged Starc’s pacey delivery to slip.

It proved to be the deadliest of blows to the tourists, as Bell and Root saw out the game to leave England one win away from regaining the urn.

It was another ‘reaction’ performance from England, which seems to be a constant theme in this year’s Ashes series.

Australia bounced back from a crushing first test defeat to smash England at Lord’s last week to level the series.

But this week it was England’s turn to turn the tide of the series in their direction once again, with three days of brilliant cricket. Including the two 6-wicket hauls by James Anderson and Steven Finn- the first time that happened in a test match by two English bowlers for 34 years.

“The way Jimmy Anderson bowled in that first innings was fantastic,” claimed a jubilant Cook.

“It’s also been an amazing comeback from Steven Finn. Standing there at slip, you thought he was going to get a nick every ball. The character he has shown to come back after a lot of hard work is incredible.”

Steven Finn added: “This week has been fantastic and I’m thoroughly enjoying Test cricket again.

“There were a few nerves in the first few balls and you question yourself but after that it was focusing on getting people out.

“I did doubt at times if I’d play again but knew I could be good enough again. To be stood here now, there is no better feeling.”

Australia will have to ponder on their batting performance after they failed to post decent totals on what was a relatively flat pitch.

“It’s very hard to explain,” said Clarke.

“Credit has to go to England, they bowled well on day one and we didn’t bat anywhere near we’d have liked. I still would have batted first; you can see the wicket has deteriorated.

“It swung and seamed throughout the whole game. We probably had the best batting conditions, we just didn’t execute with bat and ball.”

The fourth test commences on August 6th at Trent Bridge.

* QUOTES FROM BBC SPORT. 

ASHES 2015: STEVEN FINN’S 5 WICKET HAUL PUTS ENGLAND IN COMMANDING POSITION.

3rd Test, Day Two, Edgbaston. 

England produced another day of mesmerising cricket to leave themselves on the brink of winning the third test at Edgbaston.

Steven Finn continued to impress on his return to the England fold with a five-wicket haul, as the hosts ripped through the Australian batting line up for a second time in as many days.

Australia, who started the day perfectly when Mitchell Johnson dismissed Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes inside three deliveries, are facing what looks like an impossible task to stay in the test match. They ended the day on 168-7, a lead of just 27 runs.

Moeen Ali’s 59 and Joe Root’s 63 helped the hosts reach 281 before being bundled out. The highlight being Ali and Stuart Broad’s record breaking eighth wicket partnership for England at Edgbaston, which consisted of 89 runs.

Australia started strongly in their second innings- with opener David Warner scoring a 35-ball fifty. It equalled the quickest half-century in Ashes history by Graham Yallop.

However, with Australia looking good at 62-1, Alastair Cook switched Finn to the Pavilion End, and the test swung back into England’s favour as a result.

The Middlesex seamer dismissed Steve Smith for the second time in the match when the Aussie top-edged, gifting Jos Buttler the simplest of catches.

Then after Tea Finn reeked havoc. Michael Clarke and Adam Voges edged two of the seamers deliveries to third and second slip before Mitchell Marsh was cleaned bowled.

And when James Anderson claimed his seventh wicket of the match, dismissing danger man Warner in the process, Australia were just 111-6.

A 45-wicket partnership by Peter Nevill and Johnson saved the tourist’s blushes, but Finn wasn’t done yet, and got Johnson just before the close of play.

Finn’s 5-45 was his first five wicket haul for England in just under two and a half years, but the bowler admits the game is far from over.

“The game is definitely not won yet,” he said.

“They have players who can bat so there will still be pressure. We need to do a professional job tomorrow.

“It has been a while since I’ve played Test cricket so to come here and take wickets was great.”

For Australia, it is an evening to ponder on how they can save this test match. Johnson did manage to reach the 300-test wickets milestone though with the dismissals of Bairstow and Stokes. The fast bowler was however, not satisfied by his team’s performance.

“It’s not ideal, it’s not something we’re happy about,” admitted Johnson.

“We’re 23 runs ahead and we need a big partnership in the morning to get the ball rolling. We played some shots we didn’t need to and the guys will be disappointed. We need to stop this rot.

“It looked at one stage like we wouldn’t make them bat again. If we can get to 120 or 130 ahead we’ll have a really good crack at them.”

 *Quotes from BBC Sport.

ASHES 2015: ANDERSON OBLITERATES AUSSIES ON DAY ONE AT EDGBASTON.

3rd Test, Day One, Edgbaston. 

James Anderson ripped through the Australian batting line up to help England seize early control of the third test at Edgbaston.

With the series tied 1-1, and on a day consisting of several rain delays, England’s bowlers were able to whittle Australia down to just 136, before ending the day on 133-3.

Anderson posted his best ever Ashes figures of 6-47, while Steven Finn repaid the selectors for his inclusion with the crucial wickets of Steve Smith and Aussie captain Michael Clarke.

On a pitch that appealed to the England seamers, the tourists could only manage to withstand 36.4 overs at the crease, although Steve Rodgers managed to record his ninth test half century in 11 matches.

Finn, who was making his first England appearance since being dropped 18 months ago from the last Ashes series in Australia, managed to get the two crucial wickets of the innings. Firstly, his perfect delivery to Smith was caught behind. Clarke was then clean bowled for just 10- meaning his batting average over the last 12 Ashes test has fallen to 19.2.

However, it was James Anderson who was the man of the hour. Unplayable at times- he swept aside more than half of the Aussie batting line-up alone. Adam Voges and Mitchell Marsh were caught behind, Peter Nevill clean bowled and Mitchell Johnson caught at fourth slip before he capped off his innings with the dismissal of Nathan Lyon.

“We’re very happy, especially after losing the toss,” claimed Anderson after the day’s play.

“We created pressure to get them out for a low score and then the guys batted well.”

The Lancashire bowler also had words of praise for fellow seamer Finn.

“He (Finn) has had a tough 18 months and worked so hard to get back in the Test side,” Anderson said.

“So everyone in the dressing room is delighted for him and he looked a threat.”

Stuart Broad also got in on the action, taking two wickets to rise to fifth on the all time test wicket takers list.

After bowling Australia out, England looked to score a decent total to take total control of the test, but things didn’t go so smoothly. They lost a wicket early as Adam Lyth sliced a Paul Hazlewood delivery straight to slip.

Alastair Cook and Ian Bell made a 57 run partnership before the England captain picked out Voges at square leg.

Bell himself had a mini revival at his home ground, scoring a half-century. But he gave up his wicket needlessly as the day fizzled out. The Warwickshire man lost control of his bat after attacking Lyon’s welcoming delivery, causing his shot to go up rather than distant. It resulted in gifting David Warner the simplest of catches.

England will still be happy though with their performance, especially after their showing at Lord’s last week.

Another strong day and they will certainly be favourites to take the third test and lead the series 2-1 with two still to play.

“It was a very disappointing day,” admitted Rodgers.

“England put us under pressure and we didn’t respond. You have to give their attack credit, but there are times when you have to fight, and some of the shot selection…we needed to have a better day.

“The pitch was quick enough and England exploited it well and hit the right lengths. It could be difficult in the fourth innings, but we’re behind the game at the moment.”

*All quotes from BBC Sport. 

ASHES 2015: Australia Win One-Sided Second Test to Level Series.

2nd Test, Day Four, Lord’s.

Australia thrashed England at Lord’s by 405 runs to level the Ashes series 1-1 with a day to spare.

England’s horrific second innings batting collapse added salt into the wounds, as they were bowled out for just 103 on what was a decent batting pitch.

Australia had earlier in the day racked up another 146 runs, before declaring on 254-2 just before lunch. This meant England would need to withstand five sessions (or 155 overs) of brutal Australian bowling to save the test.

They managed to survive just 37.

With all their wickets in tact at lunch, no one would have seen the avalanche that was about to unfold. Alastair Cook, Gary Ballance and Adam Lyth were all caught behind to begin the carnage.

Under pressure Ian Bell could then only master up 11 runs from 50 deliveries before he poked a Nathan Lyon ball straight to short leg for the simplest of catches.

Just as the hosts thought it couldn’t get worse, Ben Stokes was daftly run out for zero. Somehow, he failed to ground either himself or his bat when Mitchell Johnson arrowed a throw directly at the stumps.

By tea England were five down and knew they just had to see the day out without losing any more wickets.

Instead, Jos Buttler and Moeen Ali both came and went within five deliveries from Johnson.

Stuart Broad, the only England player to have played decent cricket in this test, slugged the ball about to a quick 25 score before he was caught at cover to make it 101-8.

Only two more runs were added before Josh Hazlewood then wrapped up proceedings. He clean bowled both Joe Root and James Anderson, sparking wild celebrations for the Australians.

The only concern for the winning side was the health of in-form opener Chris Rodgers, who retired on 49 due to illness. He watched on from the pavilion for the remainder of the day, but should feature at Edgbaston in nine days time.

The defeat was England’s third heaviest against their rivals, and must now consider changes- particularly at the top of the order.

“When you get bowled out for 100, it isn’t good enough,” admitted Cook.

“Australia put us under pressure and we weren’t able to deal with it.

“We have come up short this week. But we have to take this on the chin. Now it’s about the character we need to show in order to bounce back.”

For Australia, it was the perfect response to their defeat in Cardiff last week as they now aim to win their first Ashes series in England since 2001.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better performance,” said a ecstatic Michael Clarke.

“We didn’t play our best at Cardiff, but now we can look in the mirror and say we played some good cricket here.”

It’s funny just how much can change in a week.

Australia this time last week looked nothing like the side that has transformed since Darren Lehmann took over. England played the perfect test in Cardiff, but couldn’t replicate that form at Lord’s. Now it is them who need to ponder long and hard about how they can recover at Edgbaston.

The third test begins on July 29th.

ASHES 2015: Australia Well On The Way To Level Series.

2nd Test, Day Three, Lord’s. 

Australia are well on the way to levelling the Ashes series after another dominant display at Lord’s on day three of the second test.

Mitchell Marsh took the two crucial wickets of Alastair Cook (96) and Ben Stokes (87), as the tourists eventually bowled out the hosts for 312.

A calm and collected David Warner and an ever reliant Chris Rodgers then saw out the day, reaching stumps in 108-0, 362 runs ahead of England.

At 30-4, England looked odds on to have to follow on, but a spirited effort from Stokes and Cook led to a 145-run partnership to save the team from any embarrassment.

With the England skipper leading from the front, it looked like Cook was heading towards a three figure score, but he lost concentration for a split second, costing him his wicket for 96.

He became the first English batsman to be dismissed seven times whilst in the 90s, a record he won’t want to remember.

Australia thought that they had Jos Buttler for just nine but replays showed that debutant wicketkeeper Peter Nevill had in fact grounded the ball. However, the England wicketkeeper could only add four before edging to Nathan Lyon.

Australia’s hero of the England innings though was Marsh, who took his opportunity with both hands. His bowling inflicted most of the damage, with a perfect delivery clipping the bails for Stokes on 87, before clean bowling Cook.

David Warner seemed much more composed than in the first innings, as he reached his 50 off 71 balls. However it could have been so very different. Adam Lyth could only parry a sharp edge from Warner to the boundary.

It was the third catch of the match England have failed to take, all of which would have changed the whole perplexity of the match. Rodgers and Steve Smith were dropped in the first innings before Warner in the second.

With the weather looking fair on Sunday, Australia could declare at lunch and try to make their job on day five a much simpler one. England are staring down a barrel of defeat unless they manage to stay in for five sessions, something only five teams have ever done in the history of the sport.

“At the moment, we’ve got to get our head around the fact that we are probably going to have to bat 150 overs to try and save the game,” said Stokes.

“If there’s ever a wicket to do it on it’s this one. There are no real demons in it, there’s not too much pace and there’s not too much turn.”

Australia’s Marsh told BBC: “We’ve got ourselves in a great position to really drive the game.

“I’m sure Michael Clarke has a total in mind, but I’m not sure. I imagine it will be around the 450 to 500 mark.”