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Best of the Tests at Headingley


Headingley_England_Test_Cricket_GroundThe Headingley Cricket Ground in Leeds, the home of Yorkshire cricket, has witnessed many a memorable moment in its 119-year history as a Test centre. From stunning Ashes comebacks to landmark victories by visiting teams, the Yorkshire folk have seen it all. As a beleaguered England and a buoyed Pakistan battle it out in the second and final Test of their ongoing series, here is a look back at seven classic Test matches played at the iconic venue over the years.

England v Australia, Fourth Test, 1948

Leading 2-0 after three Tests, Don Bradman’s ‘Invincibles’ sealed the series with a record-breaking win. England posted 496 on the board after electing to bat, but it could have been much more, for they were cruising at 423/2 at one stage. Opener Cyril Washbrook top-scored with 143, while Bill Edrich contributed 111 from number three. Australia replied with 458, recovering from a wobbly 68/3 thanks to the middle-order duo of Neil Harvey (112) and Sam Loxton (93).

England regained their grip on the game, declaring their second innings at 365/8 early on the fifth day. Faced with a target of 404, Australia only needed a draw to retain the Ashes. However, a commanding second-wicket stand of 301 between Arthur Morris (182) and Bradman (173*) deflated England, and a seven-wicket victory was achieved with 15 minutes to spare. This was the first time a team had successfully chased more than 400 in a Test.

England v Pakistan, Third Test, 1971

The series was locked 0-0 coming into this decider. Geoffrey Boycott dropped anchor after Ray Illingworth called correctly, scoring 112 to help England reach 316. Pakistan’s reply revolved around fifties from Zaheer Abbas (72), Mushtaq Mohammad (57) and Wasim Bari (63), eking out a lead of 34. The third day’s play was the slowest in a Test in England. D’Oliveira (72) starred in the second innings as well and, with Dennis Amiss (56), took England to 264.

Set 231 to win, Pakistan slumped to 65/4 early on the last day, even as opener Sadiq Mohammad held one end. Sadiq found a willing ally in Asif Iqbal, and the pair kept their team alive with a fifth-wicket alliance worth 95. Sadiq made a fine 91, but when he was seventh out at 187, caught and bowled by D’Oliveira, England were sniffing victory. The last three wickets fell for just two runs, all of them to paceman Peter Lever (3/10), giving England the series with a 25-run win.

England v Australia, Third Test, 1981

Australia were 1-0 up in the six-Test series against an England team led by Ian Botham. Captaincy had affected Botham’s game; a pair in the second Test at Lord’s was his lowest point. With the hosts desperately needing an inspirational leader, Mike Brearley was recalled to lead the side. But even at Headingley, the game began to follow a predictable script – Australia declared at 401/9, led by John Dyson’s 102 and captain Kim Hughes’ 89. Botham took 6/95.

England were then shot out for 174 (Botham 50) and following on, were 6/1 at the start of day four. An innings defeat loomed large as the pace duo of Dennis Lillee and Terry Alderman (6/135) made life difficult for the hosts. At 135/7, with England needing 92 just to make Australia bat again, Graham Dilley joined Botham. What followed was one of the most epic partnerships of all time. Together, they went on a hitting spree, adding 117 in just 80 minutes.

Dilley made 56, and was eighth out at 252. Chris Old further put on a priceless 67 for the ninth wicket with Botham. England’s innings ended early on the final day at 356, with Botham compiling a most incredible 149* in 148 balls, including 27 fours and one straight six. Yet, the target for the visitors was merely 130, and they looked home and dry at 56/1. At that point, pace ace Bob Willis, having changed ends to bowl with the wind, had Ian Chappell caught behind.

From thereon, Willis bowled like an inspired man. He ripped through the Australians, who unbelievably crashed to 75/8. Lillee joined Ray Bright, and their ninth-wicket stand of 35 revived hopes for their team. But Willis removed both of them to finish with a career-best 8/43. Australia were all out for 111, losing by 18 runs. This was only the second instance of a team winning a Test after following on - the first was also an English win, at Sydney in 1894-95.

England v South Africa, Fifth Test, 1998

England, down 1-0 after three Tests, completed a fantastic turnaround by following their eight-wicket win in the fourth Test at Trent Bridge with a series-clinching 23-run win at Headingley. Opener Mark Butcher scored more than half of England’s 230 in the first innings, with a stroke-filled 116, his maiden Test hundred. Fast bowler Angus Fraser starred for the hosts on the second day, taking 5/42 to limit South Africa’s lead to 22. Captain Hansie Cronje top-scored with 57.

Nasser Hussain’s obdurate 94 was the cornerstone of England’s second-innings total of 240. South Africa’s opening bowlers, Shaun Pollock (5/53) and Allan Donald (5/71), shared all the wickets. With South Africa needing 219, Darren Gough (6/42) and Fraser came out all guns blazing, reducing the score to 27/5. Jonty Rhodes (85) and Brian McMillan (54) put on 117 for the sixth wicket, but it would not be enough, as the innings wound up at 195 on the last morning.

England v Australia, Fourth Test, 2001

Three years later, Butcher produced another match-winning innings at Headingley. The Ashes were secured after Australia recorded comfortable wins in the first three Tests, and it seemed that more agony was in store for England when Ricky Ponting (144) and Damien Martyn (118) helped build a total of 447 (Darren Gough 5/103). England managed 309 in reply, with Alec Stewart scoring a rapid 76* at number seven. The nagging Glenn McGrath collected 7/76.

Ponting cracked a run-a-ball 72 as Australia galloped to 176/4 late on the fourth morning, at which point Steve Waugh made a rather bold declaration. England’s chase of 315 suffered an early jolt, as both openers were back in the hut with 33 on the board. Butcher, however, batted like a man on a mission, and shared in a third-wicket stand of 181 with Nasser Hussain (55). The southpaw remained unbeaten on a glorious 173*, shepherding the hosts to a six-wicket victory.

England v Sri Lanka, Second Test, 2014

Sri Lanka prevailed in what was one of the most exciting Test finishes in recent memory, in the process winning the two-match series 1-0; their first series success in England (they had earlier won a one-off Test at the Oval in 1998). Liam Plunkett’s 5/64 kept Sri Lanka to 257, despite a fluent 79 from Kumar Sangakkara. Opener Sam Robson, playing only his second Test, struck 127 to hand England a lead of 108. Captain Angelo Mathews took 4/44 with his medium pace.

Mathews, coming in at 176/4, swung the match with a marvelous innings. He put on 92 with Mahela Jayawardene (79) for the fifth wicket, before three wickets fell for nine runs, making the score 277/7. But Mathews kept going, adding 149 for the eighth wicket with Rangana Herath. He ended with a career-best 160, pushing the total to 457. England had a little less than four sessions to score 350. By stumps on day four, they were 57/5, thanks to pacer Dhammika Prasad (5/50).

Moeen Ali, batting at seven and playing his second Test, staged a valiant rescue act on the final day even as wickets continued to fall at the other end. When James Anderson came in at 228/9, more than 20 overs still remained. The last-wicket pair resisted for 81 minutes, until, with just two balls left in the Test, a short ball from Shaminda Eranga had Anderson caught at backward square for a 55-ball duck, leaving Moeen stranded on 108* and Sri Lanka victors by 100 runs.

England v West Indies, Second Test, 2017

The West Indies had been written off after a mauling by an innings and 209 runs in the first Test at Edgbaston. At Headingley, the fast bowlers, led by Shannon Gabriel (4/51) and Kemar Roach (4/71) showed early promise to have England at 71/4, before Ben Stokes’ counterattacking 100 steered the total to 258. James Anderson (5/76) reduced the Windies to 35/3 in reply, but Kraigg Brathwaite (134) and Shai Hope (147) joined forces for a fourth-wicket partnership worth 246.

This stand helped the visitors to a vital lead of 169. England amassed 490/8 in their second innings, with as many as six half-centuries scored, to set a challenging target of 322. It was the pair of Brathwaite (95) and Hope (118*) who rose to the occasion again, sharing a third-wicket stand of 144 to put their team on course. With less than five overs left, the West Indies completed a delightful five-wicket victory, their first success in England in 19 Tests since 2000.


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Rustom Deboo is a cricket aficionado and freelance writer from Mumbai. He is an ardent devotee of T...

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