England v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Lord's May 11, 2006

Not a time for spin

Spinners have only taken 6% of wickets in Lord's Tests in May

Muttiah Muralitharan warms up at Lord's. Spinners have only taken ten wickets in six Tests at the venue in May © Getty Images

May in England normally means wet weather, seaming pitches, low scores, and little assistance for spinners. The weather in London has been unusually clear this time around, and though that and Sri Lanka's performance here last time around should encourage them, some of the other stats here certainly won't.

In all, Lord's has hosted just six Tests in May, of which England have won five, four of them by an innings. (That stat, though, needs to be taken with a pinch of salt, for three of those four innings wins were against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh.) However, Pakistan and New Zealand have struggled to cope with the seam and swing in the early English season as well. The only team that did manage a draw was Sri Lanka, in 2002, in a game they thoroughly dominated. On that occasion, though, a gigantic first-innings total of 555 for 8 declared was set up largely by Marvan Atapattu's monumental 185. With Atapattu not around here, one of the others will have to take the lead.

England in May isn't a time for spinners, and that is borne out by the table below: in six Lord's Tests in May, spin has accounted for just 6% of the wickets, at an exorbitant average, and at a strike rate of 157 deliveries per wicket. In fact, spinners haven't had that much to do at Lord's in all Tests played here since 2000. Perhaps a wizard called Muttiah Muralitharan can alter those numbers significantly over the next five days.

Pace and spin at Lord's in Tests in May
Wickets Average Strike rate
Pace 154 31.86 59.14
Spin 10 72.00 157.20

Pace and spin in all Lord's Tests since 2000
Wickets Average Strike rate
Pace 318 30.22 54.64
Spin 47 49.68 92.60

England's domination at Lord's early in the season is further illustrated by the partnership stats for them and the opposition. And while England have a 42-27 win-loss statistic at the ground, their recent track record is even more impressive - eight wins and three defeats since 2000.

Average top-order stands at Lord's since 2000
1st 2nd 3rd 4th
England 37.97 36.75 49.97 31.10
Other teams 27.40 36.96 20.97 31.30

For Sri Lanka to do well this time, they will need substantial contributions from their seniors, and at least two of whom will be keen to wipe out the disappointments of their previous tour to England: Chaminda Vaas managed four wickets in three matches at an exorbitant 108 per wicket, while Kumar Sangakkara had a top-score of 40, and an aggregate of 105, from six innings. England's current captain will want to improve his figures too: when he last played Sri Lanka at home, Andrew Flintoff averaged 14 with the bat and 52 with the ball - he'll be mighty satisfied if at the end of this series those averages are interchanged.

S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo