Lord’s is known as the Home of Cricket but it hasn’t provided much of an advantage to the England team in recent years.
They have lost five of their last ten Test matches in St John’s Wood and were bowled out for 85 in the first innings of July’s win over Ireland.
Australia have fond memories of the venue, romping to a 405-run victory at Lord’s during the 2015 Ashes and defeating England there in the group stage of this summer’s World Cup.
And England arrive at Lord’s already under pressure in the Ashes, having lost the first Test at Edgbaston by 251 runs.
Their record wicket-taker James Anderson is injured, frontline spinner Moeen Ali has been dropped, and serious doubts remain over their batting unit – especially when compared to Australian run-machine Steve Smith.
The former Aussie captain scored 144 and 142 at Edgbaston in his first Test since serving a 12-month ban for ball-tampering and he was also the architect of Australia’s 2015 win at Lord’s, batting for more than eight hours in an innings of 215.
Smith has made an astonishing ten centuries in his last 29 Test innings against England and clearly has a key role to play for Australia at Lord’s
He received strong support from Travis Head (35 and 51) and Matthew Wade (110 in the second innings) in the first Test and the Aussies won despite openers David Warner and Cameron Bancroft scoring a mere 25 runs between them.
At 154-1, replying to Australia’s 284, England looked primed to claim a significant first-innings lead at Edgbaston but they lacked Smith’s ruthlessness, slipping to 300-8 before a late rally got them to 374.
Chris Woakes and Stuart Broad skittled Ireland for 38 in England’s last Test at Lord’s and the pacy Jofra Archer looks set for a debut. But Australia’s bowlers were so good at Edgbaston that top-class quicks Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood may have to wait a little longer for a recall and the tourists could inflict more pain on the hosts at HQ.
Bookmakers are struggling to separate the teams in the match betting and at the prices Australia should be backed to go 2-0 up in the five-match series.
England were on top for large parts of the first Test but they wilted in the face of Smith’s outstanding batting and the relentless guile and accuracy of spinner Nathan Lyon.
Australia’s fast bowlers were also impressive and England have been forced into major changes with Archer set to replace the injured Anderson and Jack Leach coming in for the out-of-form Moeen.
Four of England’s top seven – Jason Roy, Joe Denly, Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow – failed to deliver with the bat at Edgbaston so the hosts are under pressure both as a team and as individuals.
The layers are taking no chances with Smith’s odds to top-score in Australia’s first innings but it may be worth having a small bet on Head, who batted fluently for his 86 runs at Edgbaston.
There tend to be early wickets in Lord’s Tests so the left-hander could get the best of the conditions down at number five and he is looking the part at Test level, averaging 49.93 nine matches into his career.
It’s difficult to ignore Woakes’s sensational record at Lord’s and the Warwickshire man merits a bet to be England’s top wicket-taker in the first innings. He has taken 24 wickets in four matches at the venue, at an average of just 9.75, and claimed 6-17 in last month’s rout of Ireland.
Woakes looked dangerous in the first innings at Edgbaston, dismissing Head, Wade and Usman Khawaja, and he is one of the more reliable performers in an inconsistent England side.