After a bit of a delay (in several senses), the First Test has started. Pakistan becomes the third opponent to Test Australia at the MCC's famous home. (If only this had happened when I was in London!) Mind you, when it comes to cricket in general, Lord's is no stranger to Pakistan v Australia, this being the third such match since their first anti-climactic meeting in 1999.
The Pakistani batting has been weakened by well-publicised events. Australia have taken the opportunity to announce in advance Clarke's place in the batting order until next year. (That seems both unusual and unnecessary, to me.) Moving up a spot shouldn't hurt him or the team, but will hardly shake the world. Unsurprisingly, though, in my opinion, the big question is still how the Aussie bowlers will step up.
The return of Hilfenhaus may be useful in these conditions, but all three pacemen can be more erratic than some. The big change is the debut of Steve Smith as a spinner. I felt that throwing him in as the main spinner is rushing him, and am still concerned. Having said that, if there is a need, there is a need, and perhaps it is not such a big step from the role as all-rounder to replace a batsman that I would have been comfortable with. Even in this situation, I would put him in ahead of the other debutant. On that note, while I did get strangely confused just over a year, the Tasmanian wicketkeeper's inclusion for Haddin means that we now do indeed have three apple island born-and-bred members of the Test team!