Australia’s paceman Pat Cummins claims the mystique of the Lord’s slope means nothing to him and he’s happy to bowl from either end of the iconic venue in the second Test starting on Wednesday night (AEST).
A 2.5-metre drop between the north and south ends of the oval is part of the reason that Lord’s is such a unique challenge for fast bowlers.
Mitchell Johnson memorably came unstuck at the home of cricket in 2009, recording match figures of 3-200 as England clinched its first Ashes win at the ground in 75 years.
Johnson bounced back with six wickets to help his side level the 2015 Ashes at Lord’s, where Australia has lost just seven of 38 Tests.
Cummins is the top-ranked Test bowler in the world but the match starting on Wednesday will be his first Test in London.
However, Australia’s spearhead has played four one-day internationals at Lord’s and isn’t stressing as he prepares to hunt a 2-0 series lead over England.
“It’s a funny one; it seems like everyone has a theory on which end to bowl here,” Cummins said after Australia trained at Lord’s on Sunday.
People reckon they nip it down the hill, people reckon they nip it up the hill. I’ve got no idea. You normally settle into an end.
“I haven’t bowled enough here … haven’t found too much of a difference.”
Cummins added that he and the other fast bowlers wouldn’t be stewing about how best to handle the slope.
“Every time you play here it comes up and it’s just one of those nuances of this ground,” he said.
“It’s still a cricket pitch. I don’t think it makes too much of a difference.
“I’m sure it’ll come up (in team discussions) but it’s not a massive factor.”
Cummins suggested he would relish a chance to bowl first on Wednesday, should there be overcast conditions as forecast.
Mitchell Starc described Lord’s as a “wonderful place to play cricket”, adding that the 17-man touring party is well aware of Australia’s imposing record at the venue.
“We’ll be looking to continue that,” Starc said.
“We’re not sure what the conditions are going to be, if it’s anything like that (recent) Irish Test match, it’s perfect for us bowlers.”
In the England camp, Stuart Broad is leaving no stone unturned as he seeks to fill the void left by Jimmy Anderson.
He, Joe Root, Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler were the only England players to train at the home of cricket on Sunday, when the squad assembled in London.
As the other stars had a hit in the nets and Jonny Bairstow took in the England-Wales rugby match from the Twickenham stands, Broad honed his craft under the watchful eye of bowling coach Chris Silverwood and head coach Trevor Bayliss.
It was a signal of intent from the 33-year-old, whose 44.4 overs at Edgbaston represented a higher workload than any other fast bowler in the match.
Much has been made of the fact Jofra Archer will make his Test debut in the injury-enforced absence of Anderson.
However Archer’s express pace is expected to be used in shorter bursts and the World Cup hero will likely be given a licence to attack.
In terms of like-for-like for cover of Anderson’s clinical control, sideways movement and immense experience, Root will lean on Broad to be his banker as the hosts hunt a series-levelling victory this week.
Anderson has spoken of his guilt in letting the team down because he only bowled four overs at Edgbaston, but Broad also felt culpable as Steve Smith marched Australia from 8-122 to 284 on day one.
“Should we have bowled Australia out for 140? Absolutely. It was a very frustrating thing for me as someone leading that bowling group that we could not,” Broad wrote in his Daily Mail column.
“If we had, we wouldn’t have been in the position we found ourselves in later in the match.
“Jimmy’s absence was not something that affected us on day one.”
Cummins suggested Australia hadn’t spoken much about the threat posed by Archer but acknowledged that the omission of Anderson, who boasts 575 wickets from 149 Tests, was a big blow.
“It’s no secret he’s a massive loss. He’s their highest wicket-taker, arguably their best bowler in the last few Ashes series,” Cummins said.
“All our boys have played against Jofra in the World Cup or with him in the IPL or the BBL, so he’s not an unknown. We’ll do our homework but we’ve all faced him.”
England’s left-arm spinner Jack Leach looks set to get his chance and believes he has “nothing to lose” after replacing fellow spinner Moeen Ali in the squad.
“It feels like I’ve got nothing to lose and a lot to gain,” Leach told the BBC’s Sportsweek program. “I just want to go and do my thing.”
Leach’s last appearance at Lord’s saw him famously score 92 as a nightwatchman as England overcame a dismal first innings to beat Ireland in an Ashes warm-up.
But this week all the focus will be on his bowling as England hopes he can be the man to crack Smith.
“There has been a focus on his supposed weakness against left-arm spin,” he said.
“I suppose those stats are there but I’ve just got to – if I’m in the 11 – I’ve got to do my thing and bowl as well as I can and see what happens.
“It’s the same for every batter. I want to get every batter out. Yes, there’s Steve Smith but there’s 10 other guys as well and I’ll be focusing on all of them.”