Pitch report – Lord's, London
From recent history, we can tell that batting first at Lord's is generally the best option, as it is a relatively flat track for batting when the sun is out, despite Black Caps collapses evidence to the contrary.
<b>Established:</b> 1814<br><b>Capacity:</b> 30,000<br><b>Floodlights:</b> Yes<br><b>Ends:</b> Pavilion End, Nursery End<br><b>Home Team:</b> Middlesex<br><b>Test History:</b> 126 Tests; 49 home wins, 30 away wins, 47 draws<br><b>Last 10 Tests:</b> 7 home wins, 1 away win, 1 neutral win, 1 draws<br><b>Last 10 Tosses:</b> 3 batted first (3 wins); 7 bowled first (1 win, 1 draws, 5 defeats)
<b>Overview</b><br>As the home of English cricket – indeed world cricket – it has been suggested that Lord's inspires the opposition more than it does the hosts. Nevertheless, England have only lost here three times in the last 19 Tests.
Despite the MCC's reputation for stuffiness, the ground has been extensively redeveloped to keep it at the forefront of cricketing venues, and many of the additions – notably the futuristic Media Centre at the Nursery End – are strikingly modern without diminishing the famous venue's historical power.
Further development has been proposed, and a recent objection avoided, as the MCC found agreement on a 'Vision for Lord's'. In the meantime, the ground was used for archery during the London 2012 Olympics.
Between 2006 and 2009 the pitch became something of a batting paradise – despite the infamous slope – producing six straight draws between Australia's 2005 victory and England's three-day defeat of the West Indies in early 2009.
However, the pitch is playing rather quicker these days by all accounts and offering assistance for everyone rather than just fancy-dan batsmen looking to get their name on the dangerously overcrowded Lord's honours board.
<b>Last Time Out</b><br>The most recent Test at the Home of Cricket was not that long ago, in May this year when England beat New Zealand by 170 runs in a very low-scoring encounter.
England won the toss and chose to bat first, making 232 all out in the morning of day two. It was a bowling Test, with Tim Southee taking four wickets in that innings and Neil Wagner bagging three. England's top scorer was Jonny Bairstow, with 41.
The Black Caps were just as bad, if not worse, and were all out for 207 around lunch on day three. James Anderson bagged five wickets and Steve Finn took four, while Stuart Broad took the other wicket. He made up for it in the second innings though.
With a lead in place before they began their second stint, England went on to make yet another poor total on 213 all out. This was thanks to half centuries from Jonathan Trott and Joe Root, while Southee bagged six more to finish with a 10-wicket match haul.
Broad was electric as he removed four Kiwis for just 21 runs in the morning on day four, and the Black Caps went into lunch on 29 for six as Broad claimed his five-fer. He took two more wickets after the interval and the Kiwis were all out for 68.
<b>They Said</b><br>Former England skipper said on Twitter on Tuesday: "A small covering of Live grass on the pitch… Should be a little more pace and carry than at TB… #Ashes."
Former England player Ray Illingworth said: "As for Lord's, I think it will be a better pitch for batsmen to play some shots but the Aussies have shown they will fight."
Australia coach Darren Lehmann said he would change his side according to the track: "We'll look at conditions and work out the best way of getting 20 wickets. If its the current guys who got 20 wickets, then so be it. If it's not, then so be it as well."
<b>Happy Hunting Ground</b><br>England's top order batsmen enjoy playing at Lord's, with Kevin Pietersen the best of the current lot with an average of 61.40 over 14 Tests. He has five centuries here, with a top score of 202 not out. Alastair Cook is the only other current player to have more than 1000 runs here, and he averages 45.64.
Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott also have very healthy averages at Lord's, with Trott's over 69, though he has played half the games here that KP has. Fast Bowler Stuart Broad enjoys a bat here too, averaging 45, which is a good omen considering his half ton at Trent Bridge.
As for the Aussies, none of the current players feature on the top scoring list. Skipper Michael Clarke last played here in July 2010, and made scores of 47 and 12. Shane Watson made four and 31.
The bowling list, James Anderson is the top current wicket-taker and sits third on the list. He needs 11 more to go top of the table, and has an average of 26.06. Stuart Broad, who took seven wickets in an hour in May, is fifth on the list and averages 28.82.
Interestingly, Steve Finn, who is in danger of not playing in the second Test, averages 20 at his county home ground and he's taken 29 wickets in just five Tests. Spinner Graeme Swann has 31 wickets in nine matches.
Glenn McGrath and Shane Warned had great records at Lord's, but none of the current bowlers have played a Test here. Peter Siddle didn't play in the 2010 Ashes Test at Lord's, while the other bowlers all made their debuts the following year.
<b>Weather Forecast</b><br>Like in Nottingham, there isn't rain on the forecast for any of the five days, with a bit of cloud cover here and there. Days one and five are due to have grey skies, but the others will all be clear, apparently. Temperatures are set to be in the mid-20s all game.
<b>Conclusion</b><br>From recent history, we can tell that batting first at Lord's is generally the best option, as it is a relatively flat track for batting when the sun is out, despite Black Caps collapses evidence to the contrary.
But if Michael Vaughan is correct in his Tweets, the track will offer something for the fast bowlers, as it tends to do, and there might not be much in it for the spinners, like there was in Nottingham.
We're going to predict that England's top order will fare much better here than in the first Test, and this game might not be as close a contest. But if the pacemen from either side get going, another early finish could be on the cards.
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