England's record at Lord's, where they play Australia in the second Test which starts on Wednesday, has improved after the fallow spell that lasted a lifetime between 'Verity's Match' in 1934 and Andrew Flintoff's 'Battle of Wounded Knee' in 2009.
But even when two relatively well-matched teams have met in these contests there, tight Tests have been rare and one-sided thrashings have become the norm. In 10 Ashes meetings since the one-off Test in 1980, the margins of victory have frequently been colossal.
Lord's usually guarantees trouncings as well as full houses and a visit from the Queen. While we wait to find out what is in store in this week's second Test, the story of the past 10 suggest drubbings are as commonplace as drama.
Second Test 1981, match drawn
Eleven months after the rain-wrecked Centenary Test when the members jeered and jostled the killjoy umpires, David Constant and Dickie Bird, for their ‘jobsworth’ disregard for the occasion, Australia returned to Lord’s 1-0 up in the series and Ian Botham’s hold on the England captaincy slithering from his grasp.
A pedantic misreading of the regulations by the umpires curtailed play on the second day and the field was strewn with cushions thrown by disgruntled spectators but the disruptions for bad light and rain made a draw all but inevitable once Australia had surpassed England’s first-innings score of 311 and clung on until an hour before tea on day four.
Geoff Lawson won the man of the match award for his first-innings seven for 81 while England’s veteran leader of the attack, Bob Willis, seemed a spent force after racking up 28 no-balls. The members’ pointed snubbing of Botham, when the captain bagged a pair in the second innings, harrumphing, averting their gaze and rustling their Telegraphs, crystallised his dethronement. He resigned at the end of the Test and the chairman of selectors, needlessly and cruelly could not resist telling everyone he would have been sacked had he not stood down.
Mike Brearley was recalled and took the team to Headingley where Botham and Willis, figures of scorn at Lord’s, performed ‘the (first) miracle of 81’.
Second Test 1985, Australia won by four wickets
The only genuine 'nipper among the 10 most recent Tests, edged by Australia by virtue of Craig McDermott’s six for 70, ‘Dutchie’ Holland’s five for 68 and Allan Border’s 7½- hour 196 in the first innings which inflated their lead to 135. A seventh-wicket stand of 131 between Botham and Mike Gatting helped England set a target of 127, which seemed about 40 too short.
However, when Botham, Paul Allott, Phil Edmonds and John Emburey reduced Australia to 65 for five, the ghosts of the collapses of Headingley and Edgbston four years previously must have preyed on the tourists’ minds. But Border stood firm after the happy hooker Andrew Hilditch fell into a glaringly signposted trap and David Gower ran out Kepler Wessels.
Australia’s captain made an unbeaten 41 on the final morning to level the series at 1-1 and add to his Test-best score in the first innings. “It has set the series alight,” said Border. “These first two Tests have shown how evenly-matched the teams are.”
Two run-soaked draws followed before England recalled Richard Ellison who took 17 wickets in the final two Tests, Gower made 215 at Edgbaston, Graham Gooch 196 at the Oval and the Ashes were regained.
Second Test 1989, Australia won by six wickets
England hadn’t been able to winkle Steve Waugh out at Headingley, where he made an unbeaten 177, nor at Lord’s, where he made 152 and helped put on 263 for the last four wickets. Jack Russell’s 64 not out had rescued England's first innings when Gower rectified his Headingley error by batting first on winning the toss but 286 was never going to be enough.
Having reduced Australia to 265 for six on Friday night, their inability to take the final four wickets quickly and subsequent stumble to 58 for three incited a hostile grilling for the captain Gower in the Saturday evening press conference, which he inflamed further by abruptly walking out to head to the theatre to see Anything Goes.
He withstood a barrage of media ordure to resume his innings on Monday morning and make a glorious 106, putting on 139 for the fifth wicket with Robin Smith who fell four short of a maiden Test century. Neil Foster took three wickets as Australia wobbled momentarily at 67 for four in pursuit of 118. Enter Waugh, the rain held off and Australia’s new hero combined with David Boon to knock off the runs after tea.
Second Test 1993, Australia won by an innings and 62 runs
Shane Warne and ‘the ball of the century’ had helped win the first Test at Old Trafford but Graham Gooch’s masterly, rearguard 133 as England strove to save the match was the pick of the batting performances, Mark Taylor’s clumping 124 and Ian Healy’s impishly frustrating 102 notwithstanding.
At Lord’s however, Australia’s top five ground England into the dust after winning the toss. Taylor (111) and Michael Slater (152) put on 260 for the first wicket, David Boon (164*) and Mark Waugh (99) 175 for the third and Border (77) and Boon 139 for the fourth.
Despite losing strike bowler McDermott to the most excruciating injury imaginable on day two - a twisted bowel, which ruled him out of the attack for the entire game - Border used Mark Waugh to open the bowling and enforced the follow-on after England fell 417 short of Australia’s 632 for four declared. Warne took four wickets in both innings, Tim May six in the match and Mike Atherton was run out on Sunday evening on 99 when he slipped pushing for a third. Together with his 80 in the first innings, his scores secured his place in the side after a spell of injury and poor form.
Within two Tests he was made captain after the series was lost and led England to victory at the Oval, their first against Australia at the 18th attempt since the 1986 Boxing Day Test.
Second Test 1997, match drawn
For the first time since 1985, England arrived at Lord’s 1-0 up after the nine-wicket victory at Edgbaston which had been built on demolishing Australia for 118 in their first innings and Nasser Hussain’s double century. The first day’s play was washed out and only 90 minutes were possible on the Friday. Before Saturday lunchtime, however, Glenn McGrath, who had ominously found the ideal length on his first tour after bowling too short in Birmingham, had taken eight for 38 on an unreliable pitch and England were all out for 77.
Matthew Elliott’s 112 steered Australia to 213 for seven between the showers with the help of some long-handle acceleration - only 17 overs were completed on the Sunday - and they declared overnight with a lead of 136, hoping to skittle England again.
But they were greeted on Monday morning by sunshine for the first time in the match and without the clouds and murk, England batted well on an increasingly placid pitch to make 266 for four and earn the draw.
Second Test 2001, Australia won by eight wickets
Atherton resumed the captaincy on a locum basis because of Hussain’s fractured finger and led a team with five Surrey batsmen - Mark Butcher, Graham Thorpe, Mark Ramprakash, Alec Stewart and Ian Ward - in a brown-capped string from No3 to seven.
Put in to bat by Australia, England were bowled out for 187. McGrath claimed another inscription on the honours’ board with five for 54 and, after a forgotten gem of an innings by Mark Waugh of 108, his 19th and penultimate Test century, Jason Gillespie joined him with five for 53 in England’s second innings.
England had dropped Adam Gilchrist four times on his way to 90 and their misery was compounded when Brett Lee broke Thorpe’s hand before pinning him leg-before. Butcher fought hard for his 83 and Ramprakash contributed 40 to their 96-run partnership but both fell to the nippy Gillespie and England set Australia only 14 to make for a 2-0 series lead. Darren Gough and Andy Caddick ran in with impressive fire and took a wicket apiece in the losing cause.
First Test 2005, Australia win by 239 runs
Steve Harmison hit Justin Langer on the elbow and Ricky Ponting on the cheek in a blistering opening spell and took five for 43 as Australia were bowled out for 190 in 40.2 overs of palpable hostility. England had lost only one of their preceding 18 Tests, won six successive series and indicated they would go toe-to-toe in 2004’s Champions Trophy match and the white-ball games before the Ashes, yet crumpled before McGrath (five for 53) and Lee (three for 47), conceding a 35-run lead that would have been much worse but for Kevin Pietersen’s magnificent 57 on debut.
Michael Clarke top-scored with 91 as Australia built a target of 420 for England to chase and, bold though Pietersen proved again, making 64 not out, England were all out for 180 and lost inside four days. Langer led the celebrations late into the night, pouring beer on the home dressing-room seat vacated that evening by the England captain, laughing at Michael Vaughan and his team-mates whom the Australians expected to roll over as usual. It was an act of hubris that made what followed, as England fought back to win 2-1 and regain the Ashes after 16 years, all the more pleasurable.
Second Test 2009, England won by 115 runs
Seventy-five years after their last Ashes Test victory at Lord’s, England finally broke their wretched run. They had held out for the tensest of draws at Cardiff and at HQ Andrew Strauss won the toss and batted, putting on 196 for the first wicket with Alastair Cook. The captain finished the day unbeaten on 161.
England piled up 425 and bowled Australia out for 215, Jimmy Anderson taking four wickets and Stuart Broad three. England rattled away at more than four an over to make 311 for six and set Australia 522 to get in two days.
Andrew Flintoff, in his final great performance with the ball, struck his messiah pose five times and Graeme Swann took four wickets to dismiss Ricky Ponting’s side for 406 and end the hoodoo. Some Australian writers pointed to contentious umpiring decisions, none bigger than Ponting’s dismissal in the first innings, but even they could not avoid heaping praise on the injury ravaged Flintoff and the victory of ‘wounded knee’.
Second Test 2013, England won by 347 runs
Five wickets in the first innings and four in the second for England’s Swann put them 2-0 up in the series after a crushing victory. Cook won the toss, elected to bat and watched as Jonathan Trott, man of the series Ian Bell and Jonny Bairstow orchestrated the recovery from 28 for three to 361 all out which included a knockabout, last-wicket partnership of 48 between Swann and Broad.
Australia lost six wickets between lunch and tea on the second day and England were batting again with a lead of 233 before it ended with Cook, Trott and Pietersen back in the hutch at 31 for three, all victims of Peter Siddle.
Joe Root, opening in that series, carried his bat through day three for 178 and England declared on the fourth morning when he was eventually dismissed for 180. Set 583, Australia were bowled out on the Sunday for 235 and Root proved that it is still a batsman’s game by being given the match award that should have been Swann’s for the decisive contribution.
Second Test 2015, Australia won by 405 runs
A marmalisation after England’s victory at Cardiff. England took merely one wicket on the first day and Chris Rogers and Steve Smith were not parted until they had put on 284 for the second wicket on the Friday morning. Smith compiled 215 over eight hours and 23 minutes and although Stuart Broad took four for 83, England were left essentially waiting for the declaration which came at last at 566 for eight after tea on day two.
England lost four wickets before the close and while Cook and Ben Stokes steadied the ship with a 145-run partnership, England made only 312.
Australia extended their lead with a faintly sadistic 254 for two off 49 overs then rolled England over for 109 after Mitchell Johnson’s second hair-raising spell of the match, replete with venomous snorters.
“Mitchell Johnson has ripped England’s mental scars wide open again, as a rampant Australia inflicted one of the most comprehensive Ashes victories of all time to square the series at Lord’s,” wrote the Australian journalist Ben Horne. Two Tests later England regained the Ashes after routs at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge.