Look up, not down, for clues to Lord's success
Experienced campaigners believe England's unpredictable weather will have more of an impact on the Lord's Test than the pitch itself
Sam Ferris in London
11 August 2019, 11:19 AM AEST
While the pitch at Lord's is set to be the most talked about piece of real estate in the English capital over the next three days, it might be what is high above the 22 yards that could hold the key to the second Ashes Test.
That is the opinion of England batsman Jos Buttler, who says the overhead conditions could have a greater impact on the match than the pitch.
"Not sure to be honest, we'll wait and see," Buttler said at Lord's on Saturday when asked what he expects from the second Test pitch.
"In England we get some pretty changeable weather which can affect conditions.
"We saw in the Ireland Test it did move around a bit.
"I think a lot is dependent on the overheads at Lord's. I don't know why that happens in cricket.
"It does seem to have an effect here, some people say when the lights come on the ball can move around more.
"Not look down here, more look up and see what conditions are like."
England have played two Tests this summer on distinctly different surfaces, starting with their inaugural Test against Ireland at Lord's where the hosts were bowled out for 85 inside the first session on day one.
The Dukes ball nipped around on a seam-friendly pitch all match, which ended with Ireland being skittled for just 38 inside 16 overs before lunch on day three with pacemen Chris Woakes (6-17) and Stuart Broad (4-19) sharing the 10 Irish wickets.
A week later in Birmingham the pitch conditions could not have been more contrasting despite Australia slipping to 8-122 midway through the opening day having won the toss and elected to bat.
As the match played out over the five days, the pitch slowed down and spun more and more with fast bowlers finding it difficult to make an impact once the ball became soft.
Australia off-spinner Nathan Lyon capitalised on the spinning track to take six wickets on the final day and drive his side to a famous Ashes win.
Another difference between Lord's and Edgbaston was the amount of swing in the air, which was prevalent at St John's Wood but barely spotted in the first Test.
While paceman Mitch Starc did not play in Birmingham, he did play in both of Australia's World Cup matches at Lord's and found the white ball swung more there than other venues during the 50-over tournament.
Starc and Australia's fast bowlers found swing hard to come by in their three-day tour game in Worcester this week, but the left-armer hopes to see to see the Dukes ball swerve at Lord's before and during the second Test.
"We saw the white ball move around a fair bit more at Lord’s in the World Cup so maybe that’s the same with the red ball," Starc said in Worcester on Friday.
"Judging by the Irish Test there a few weeks ago that’s probably going to be the case there off the surface.
"Again, we’ll have to see what that wicket is going to look like.
"Hopefully it moves around at training and we can take that into the game as well."
Marnus Labuschagne and Jos Buttler try their hand at the Smart Ball - a design developers are hoping will be used in domestic T20 comps within the coming months! pic.twitter.com/oyUhHkrefn— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) August 10, 2019
2019 Qantas Ashes Tour of England
Australia squad: Tim Paine (c), Cameron Bancroft, Pat Cummins, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner.
England squad: Joe Root (c), Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Joe Denly, Jack Leach, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes (vc), Chris Woakes.
First Test: Australia beat England by 251 runs at Edgbaston
Second Test: August 14-18,Lord's
Third Test: August 22-26, Headingley
Tour match: Australians v Derbyshire, August 29-31
Fourth Test: September 4-8, Old Trafford
Fifth Test: September 12-16, The Oval