Touring sides are often inspired to play above themselves when they play England at Lord's, and while this has not always been true of recent West Indies sides, there have been some enthralling encounters between England and West Indies on the 16 occasions that they have played there. Liam Brickhill casts his eye over the matches and picks out some of the highlights:
In 1963, Lord's played host to "one of the great Test matches," in the opinion of The Cricketer. "From Thursday morning, when Hunte hit the first three balls for four, until Tuesday night, it was suspended in the balance." The West Indies team that toured in 1963 was described at the time as the best England had faced since Bradman's Invincibles in 1948, and they had demolished England in the first Test at Old Trafford, winning by 10 wickets.
Here, the teams matched each other with both bat and ball, with any of four results possible until the final ball had been bowled. Set 234 to win, England were 219 for 8 when Brian Close was out for a hard-hitting 70, during which he often advanced down the pitch to the fearsome West Indian fast bowler Wes Hall. With two balls to go in the match, Derek Shackleton was run out, and Colin Cowdrey heroically came out to bat with a broken arm. David Allen played out the last two balls from Hall, with six runs needed, and a draw was secured. The match also provided a scene unprecedented in Lord's history, as a large proportion of the 124,000 who attended the five days were West Indian.
Ten years later, England ran into the West Indian juggernaut at the start of its era of world domination, and were rolled over by an innings and 226 runs, their second-heaviest defeat of all time. Rohan Kanhai, Garry Sobers and Bernard Julien all hit hundreds as West Indies soared to 652 for 8 in their first innings, and England fell to ignominious defeat as first Vanburn Holder and Keith Boyce, and then Boyce, Julien and Lance Gibbs skittled England for 233 and 193.
In 1984, the irrepressible Ian Botham seemed set to restore English fortunes at Lord's, grabbing eight wickets in West Indies' first innings and then scoring 81 in England's second to set the Windies a stiff target of 342 to win on the final day. Gordon Greenidge had other ideas, however, and with only one leg to stand on after an injury, slammed 214 not out off 242 balls, which at the time was the second-fastest Test 200 at the time. From a position of imminent defeat, West Indies coasted to a nine-wicket victory with time to spare.
It wasn't until 1995 that England lifted the Lord's hoodoo, with their first victory over West Indies there since 1957. Their hero that day was none other than Dominic Cork, who had been brought into the side in place of Devon Malcolm on the back of his 9 for 43 for Derbyshire earlier that season. On his Test debut, Cork picked up 7 for 43 in the second innings to level the series 1-1. It was a performance he would never better.
That famously belligerent player of fast bowling, Robin Smith, had contributed a fighting 90 on a spiteful pitch, to leave the game delicately poised with a day-and-a-half to spare. West Indies needed 296 to win, but Cork's stunning performance was the difference between the two teams. In fact, England's bowlers performed admirably throughout the game, and did not concede a single wide or no-ball.
"What is it about Cork, Lord's and West Indies?" asked Wisden Cricket Monthly after an epic encounter in 2000. The 100th Test at Lord's was an event to live up to the occasion, with countless twists and turns as both sides struggled on a difficult pitch. Chasing 188 to win on the third day, England were practically dead and buried at 160 for 8 before Cork's fighting 33 not out guided them home by two wickets in a thrilling finale. There was also the small matter of his seven-wicket match haul, which kept England in the game after mustering barely half of West Indies' first-innings total of 267.
The Test was also the setting for a number of records, landmarks and oddities. Remarkably, on the second day, when poor weather meant only 76.2 overs were bowled, at least part of all four innings of the match were played - one ball of the first innings, the whole of the second and third, and seven balls of the fourth. This had never happened before in 1502 Tests. West Indies' 54 all out in their second innings was the lowest total at Lord's since 1974, when India were skittled for 42. Such was the venom in the pitch that Michael Vaughan's 41 in England's second innings earned him a standing ovation.
The first Test of the current West Indies tour, starting on Thursday, will be the 17th Test match between England and West Indies at Lord's. England will be looking to cement their new position as the second-best Test side in the world, and with a young, unpredictable West Indies out for revenge after their humiliation at home earlier this year, this match seems certain to live up to the exciting tradition.