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Saving the best for last Published: 10 August 2012

Saving the best for last

For the second time in three years, Lord's replaces traditional venue the Oval as the host of England's last Test of the summer. Lords.org looks at the Home of Cricket's scheduling history.

England and South Africa play their final Test at the Home of Cricket, starting on August 16, with the number one Test ranking the reward for the winner.

It is the second time in three seasons in which Lord's has hosted the final Test match of the summer, with the now infamous Test against Pakistan taking place on that occasion.

This summer, Lord's has hosted the first and last Tests of the summer - albeit in a year where England have played six home matches rather than the seven which has become the norm in recent years.

But does Lord's hold a precise place in the British sporting summer, and how has it evolved over the years?

Early consistency

Between 1924 and 1954 the Lord's Test started between 19 and 29 June every year. It moved to the 10th of the month in '54 as England played Pakistan, before returning to a similar pattern up until 1967, hosting either the first, only, or, in most instances and particularly against Australia or South Africa, second Test of the summer.

In 1967 though, things began to change. For the first time two touring teams (India and Pakistan) played bilateral series against England, and Lord's hosted both teams as the second and first match of the series.

Changes

While those two fixtures were played in close succession (starting on 22 June and 27 July) it was the first time the Home of Cricket's traditional rhythm had been disturbed since the embryonic days of Test cricket prior to World War I. After reverting to type for the Ashes the following year, 1969 followed the same pattern as 1967.

The cricketing world was now expanding. By 1973 the first One Day International had taken place and the traditional on-field dominance of England, Australia and South Africa was being challenged by the West Indies and India.

The demands of hosting more international cricket meant a first Lord's Test to start in August that year, a match which also saw the Home of Cricket host the last Test of the English summer for the first time ever†, an innings and 26-run win for the West Indies.

One offs

Since that year, Lord's Tests have become harder and harder to pinpoint.

With two matches being held at the Ground (three in 2010) in the majority of summer's since, finding a consistency is difficult - but there are patterns.

In their early years as a Test nation, Sri Lanka played three one-off Tests at Lord's - each one of them the final Test of the year in England. The one-off centenary Test between the Ashes foes in 1980 was also the curtain call for the Test match summer, finishing on September 2.

However, despite these one-off matches, Lord's retained the tradition of Tests starting in mid-to-late June for most of the years between 1973 and 2000.

Fluid

The famous 2000 Test between England and the West Indies, where the hosts won inside three thrilling days, remains the last at Lord's to start in June.

The presence of ODIs and the domestic Twenty20 competition has reduced the amount of Test cricket in June, and Lord's has largely found a new pattern in the 21st century - hosting the first match of the summer in May and another in July.

But, with more Test venues hosting matches in the UK than ever, things remain as prone to change as they have for forty years. The first Ashes Test was unusually held at Lord's in 2005 and the Home of Cricket will once again close the summer this year.

An English summer would be incomplete without Test cricket at Lord's - but when it takes place continues to move with the times...

† in years with more than one Test.


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