When Headingley infused new life to the great game

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safari
23 Aug 2021 | 04:41 AM
authorAnirudh Kasargod

When Headingley infused new life to the great game

The northernmost Test venue in the world has witnessed some of the all-time classics

A life without a wanderlust and a Test match without entertainment are as boring as watching a painting dry. The beauty of Test cricket is such that a hard-fought drawn match can also be filled with high drama. Handling match situations after the crowd are involved, when the banter begins and the close-in fielders start chirping is where the real test lies. 

Headingley has a historical past of producing mind-blowing thrillers. Ricky Ponting is the first and only Australian player to date to reach the milestone of 12,000 runs and he achieved that record at Headingley in July 2010. Sir Alastair Cook became the first Englishman to score 9000 runs and that occurred at Headingley too against New Zealand in 2015. Similarly, James Anderson registered his 400th wicket at this venue to become the first England bowler to reach the milestone. 

As India and England prepare themselves for the third Test of the Pataudi Trophy at the historic venue, here is a look at some of the lip-smacking encounters at Headingley:

INDIA’S GOOD RUN AT HEADINGLEY

India played their first Test at the venue in 1952 and since then have played five more. They had lost the first three, but in the last three games, results are in India's favour. In 1979, India were able to draw the match as most of the days were called off because of rain.

In 1986, India had the upper hand after winning the first Test of the tour at Lord’s – this was their first win at the venue. Kapil Dev was forced to make two changes to the playing XI as Chetan Sharma and Mohinder Amarnath were injured and replaced by Madan Lal and Chandrakant Pandit (on debut). Batting first, India put up 272 after all top three scored 30+ but failed to convert before the middle order collapsed. Dilip Vengsarkar, fresh from a century at Lord's, scored 61 in the first innings.

The Indian bowlers landed a mighty blow as England were muffled for 102 runs, handing the visitors a 170-run lead. With a lead of 170, India were in early trouble after half the side was back in the hut for 70. It was again Vengsarkar’s unbeaten 102 that lead India to an unassailable lead of 407. With more than two and a half days left in the match, the result was inevitable. On the third day itself, England were reduced to 90 for six. After the rest day, England were bundled out early on day four with a score of 128 and helped India to a 279-run win. The biggest of all, India had won a series in England for the second time after doing so first in 1971.

India’s next Headingley encounter in 2002 was a profitable one too. India were falling behind with a loss at Lord’s in the first Test. India’s skipper Sourav Ganguly won the toss and put his men to bat and the big three of the Indian team - Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and Ganguly himself - scored mammoth centuries to help India post a huge total of 628 runs.

England, in reply, were bundled out for 273 in the first innings and 309 after being forced to follow-on. Wickets were spread across Indian bowlers with Anil Kumble leading the pack with figures of 7 for 159 runs. India won the match by an innings and 46 runs and drew the series four-match series 1-1.

ENGLAND’s SECOND WIN FOLLOWING-ON

The current generation remembers Kolkata's India vs Australia Test in 2001 as one of the most epic come-backs as India went on to win after being forced to follow-on. But, before that match, England had done it twice. Once in 1894 in Sydney and another one at Headingley in 1981.

In the third Test of the 1981 Ashes, Australia were one up. Batting first, the visitors declared for 409. Aussie skipper Kim Hughes scored 89 and opener John Dyson went on to register a century. Sir Ian Botham led the bowling with 6 for 95 in the first innings.

England were wrapped up for just 174 runs in the first innings as the trio of Dennis Lillee, Terry Alderman and Geoff Lawson raged havoc. Forced to follow-on, England’s top six batsmen were in the hut with the side another 100 runs behind. But Botham and Graham Dilley cut the deficit and were into the lead with a 117-run partnership for the eighth wicket. Then Botham followed it up by a 67-run ninth-wicket partnership with Chris Old and a 37-run partnership with Bob Willis for the 10th wicket. England were 130 runs ahead by the end of their innings. What came later created history as Bob Willis went berserk with an 8-wicket haul to hand England a historic win by a margin of just 18 runs, phew!


ANOTHER ASHES CLASSIC

The 2019 Ashes Test at Headingley is going to be remembered for ages. The return of Steve Smith had seen Australia go up 1-0 via a win in Birmingham in the first Test and a draw at Lord’s in the second. After a hit on the head during the Lord’s Test, Smith was rested for the third Test at Headingley. His absence saw Australia score only 179 in the first innings. However, a Josh Hazlewood special (5/30) saw England crumble to a score of 67 in the second innings. Australia piled on 246 runs with the help of 80 runs by Marnus Labuschagne. Australia had set a massive target of 353 and had the chance to retain the Ashes.

But what came next was out of the box. Skipper Joe Root, and Joe Denly had a 126-run partnership for the third wicket before Denly was dismissed. Soon, Root departed as well. An 86-run partnership for the fifth wicket between Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes took it closer. However, a collapse was triggered after the exit of Bairstow. Then came a partnership that would be remembered for ages. Jack Leach alongside Stokes had batted 62 balls to put on an unbeaten 76 runs partnership. Out of which, Leach’s contribution was only one run. Australia used their reviews prematurely and could not use DRS on what could have dismissed Stokes off the bowling of Nathan Lyon. In a pressure cooker situation, Lyon fluffed an easy run-out of Leach. There were moments of high drama but England prevailed on the back of a sensational knock of an unbeaten 135 by Stokes.

THE LAST OVER DRAMA

The Sri Lankan tour of England & Ireland in 2014 was filled with drama in the red ball series. The two-match series had seen a draw in the first match after a last-over drama in which Nuwan Pradeep was given out LBW on-field and overturned after a review of the penultimate ball. The second Test as well headed towards the same result. But, there was a twist in the plot.

Batting first, Sri Lanka scored only 257. Kumar Sangakkara top-scored with 79 and Liam Plunkett bagged a five-for for England. In reply, England posted 365 with the help of Sam Robson’s 127, Gary Ballance’ 74 and Ian Bell’s 64 and handed England a lead of 108. Sri Lanka in their second innings bettered their first innings batting as the skipper, Angelo Mathews scored a sensational 160. Sri Lanka had scored 457 in the third innings with a lead of 350 runs.

England in the fourth innings were in a dire situation at the end of the fourth day with five down for 57. A whole fifth day with half side in the pavilion is a mighty task for any team. However, it didn’t turn out to be a quick end. Moeen Ali held one end and battled for 271 balls with numbers nine, ten and jack. His partnership with James Anderson for the 10th wicket lasted for 120 balls before Shaminda Eranga produced the golden ball in the penultimate balls of the day. Anderson lobbed a catch to Rangana Herath at square leg and handed a victory in the last over of the second Test.


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