Lord's return a tasty proposition for Paine
The Australian captain has admitted he's slightly intimidated by the legendary status of the Home of Cricket, despite the impeccable lunch menu
Sam Ferris in London
13 August 2019, 05:24 PM AEST
On the eve of the first Ashes Test, Australia captain Tim Paine was asked if Edgbaston was one of the most intimidating venues in world cricket.
"Than this? I could name you 15," Paine said.
Prior to that series' opener, Australia had not won a Test match in 18 years at Edgbaston, perhaps the most vocal, hostile ground in the United Kingdom.
But after a shaky start, Paine's side regrouped off the back of twin hundreds to Steve Smith, a comeback century from Matthew Wade and an excellent all-round bowling performance to snap their drought in Birmingham and win by 251 runs.
So if a poor recent history of results and an aggressive, parochial crowd were not enough to intimidate Paine, playing at Lord's, where Australia have lost only twice since World War II in front of a respectful audience, would appear to be a much more reassuring experience for the visiting skipper.
That's not quite the case.
"A little," Paine said when asked if Lord's intimidates.
"As you walk up the stairs and you see all the legends on the wall, that’s intimidating.
"But we are looking forward to another, hopefully, great atmosphere."
So what is it about Lord's that makes it such a special venue to play at?
Ask any player, past or present, the first answer is always the food.
"It might be the lunches," Paine said when asked what is the best aspect of playing at Lord's? "I’m not too sure, the lunches are fantastic."
Unlike the customary buffet at most grounds, the players are treated to restaurant-level quality meals, with a new menu each day for both teams to choose from.
If you're wondering what kind of meals the players get dished up, Lord's tweet out the menu every day, with dessert included.
But if it is not the food, it is the history, tradition, the slope and subtle buzz of the venue that makes Lord's unique and revered.
Australia played their first men's Test match at Lord's against England in 1882, a loss by an innings and five runs, but have made it a home away from home for the best part of the last century.
Since the Second World War, Australia have played 21 Tests for 11 wins, two losses and eight draws.
Given how special it is to play at Lord's, Paine says visiting teams lift for the occasion, which is reflected in England's recent record at the 'Home of Cricket'.
In their last 10 Tests at Lord's, England have won five, lost four and drawn once. One of those four losses was the 405-run defeat to Australia in 2015.
"England are very lucky but also unlucky because this is probably the best ground in world cricket," said Paine, who made his Test debut at Lord’s in 2010 against Pakistan.
"But it is also a venue where teams love to come and play because you are in London for one, one of the great cities and when you are at Lord’s you get really spoilt.
"Off-field the facilities are brilliant, it’s always great time for a touring team the week you spend in London and at Lord’s."
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