“ Sports: Cricket / Sport Topic: Cricket Venues „
Headingley has been the scene of some great cricket, especially Ashes Test Matches. Who will ever forget Botham and Willis and 1981 and all that. The Aussie were so confident they would win they hedged their bets for celebrating if they lost by having a whip round to bet on England at 500-1. The rest is history. If Pakistan team did the same whip round then it would be a very different story. Oh yes, they have. Australia may well have thrown that game. Let's not talk about that as we don't do those sorts of things. Do we? The whole series was suspicious in hindsight. But not at the time. Don't forget that the top Aussie players were so poorly paid back then that some guys had second jobs so to cover tour costs, Dennis Lillie famously running a building company on the side.
Headingley Cricket is the Siamese twin of the Leeds Rhino's Rugby Ground and after its expensive makeover the cricket side now has seats 20,000 pews, the double-sided stand that is one side of the Rugby Ground and the other the Test ground unique as it is partisan. It was a bit of a dump back in the 1990s and the redevelopment was seriously needed to retain its test status. It even had open air toilets in the 1980s. The famous Western Terrace had got out of hand and fights and drunken behavior had become the only reason to go to the Headingley Test for some. I'm still not that wowed by the new ground but it has a certain atmosphere and produces exciting test matches, as it managed to do last week in the South Africa Test amongst the showers in this wretched summer.
Second Test = England v South Africa
Headingley = August 2nd- 6th
Graeme Swann was dropped and Steven Finn bought in as England opened up on South Africa with four seamers and more batting to try and level the series at a ground that produces home wins. But South Africa were ready and quickly on the front foot and 100-1 at lunch, Alviro Petersen going on to score a big ton and another half-century for Smith as the Protea's took control of the match and the series to close on 252-4. It was the first opening century partnership by a visiting team in a test at Headingly since the great Greenidge and Haynes in 1984. The highlight of the day was the bizarre umpire decision that denied Steve Finn a wicket, judged no-ball because his leg brushed the stump on his run up and this time dislodged the bails, the umpire deciding the ball was dead and so Smith couldn't be out when he edged to Prior.
Day two and South Africa knew if they batted two more sessions they couldn't lose the test or series and so be world number one. Alviro Petersen batted on for 182 and Duminy (48) took them over the psychological important 400 to post 418 all-out, perhaps the dropping of Swann affecting the balance of the bowling.
England batted with confidence on day three with solid partnerships all down the order, the day dominated by a typically dashing Kevin Pietersen hundred as the Olympics raged elsewhere and so the test all but hidden. Normally this kind of knock would be back pages stuff. It took him above the 7000 test run mark and Andrew Strauss in that list for England's eighth highest test run scorer. Strauss and Pietersen are now level on 21 test hundreds, one behind Boycott, Hammond and Cowdrey.
Day four and KP nicked out early on for 149 with little debutante James Taylor (34) and then Prior (68) achieving parity with South Africa for a certain draw on 425 all-out. The rain showers were much beefier on Sunday and so South Africa closed on 39-0, only 20 over's possible.
After yet another 100 partnership by South Africa, this time Smith (52) and Jacques Rudolph (69) after Petersen picked up an injury, the game ambled on to a late lunch after two short showers. South Africa enjoyed the relaxed bowling of Kevin Pietersen in the afternoon session and up to four an over at 209-3 with KP top English wicket taker in the series with four scalps at this point by spinning all three out. But then Stuart Broad, who has lost pace in the last year, got it swinging like Steyn did at The Oval and suddenly 4-12 in his top pocket and still 45 over's to go, 5-69 when he nipped Morkel out at 258-9. Then Smith did something South African captains rarely do (unless it's Hansje Cronje) and declared, surprising Strauss and perhaps, psychologically, not wanting England to celebrate bowling South Africa out, setting England 253 off a minimum 39 over's to win. No one saw that scenario at start of play!
With England 1-0 down they had to give it a go, Kevin Pietersen sent in with intent to open alongside Cook. But once he and then Prior were out at 104-4 the shutters came down and England shook hands on a draw at 130-4, and on to Lords for the traditional flat five day revenue pitch, even flatter after having those heavy archery stands on the outfield. KP was awarded the Man of the Match for his 149 and career best bowling of 3-52 and still speculation is he will be an England cricketer come September 27th, the day they sign those central contracts. Lords could be his last test match for England if he refuses to sign. He wants to play the full IPL season and so miss spring test matches, a now way scenario for the ECB, a compromise likely. I'm sure KP is making this stance mostly for himself but also for other top England players who simply can't play IPL because of the tight international schedule. But will they back him come the crunch?
Test match prices are not as high here as down south and on the fifth day you can get in for a tenner with your cooler and mates. Expect to pay around £45-80 for the first day to the fourth day of a test. One-day internationals are also expensive, vital revenue for the survival of Test Grounds. The stands are big and spacey although not very covered so bring your brolley. The weather can cook up quickly on the Pennines and dump on the ground in spectacular style.
Trains and buses to Leeds Central set you up for the local bus and train out to Headingly and there is always parking around the leafy Headingley if you don't mind a 15 minute walk. It's a nice safe area and so no problems at night. Watching domestic cricket here can be quite baron as it is so big although they get 4000 in for Sunday league and double that for T20 so always great fun under the lights or weekend afternoons. Cricket is like Olympic sport as you simply don't feel threatened and the domestic one-day games great for families.
----Famous Matches at Headingley-----
Bradman scored 334 there in an Ashes Test, 309 of it on one day!
Spinner Hedley Verity took 10 wickets for 10 runs in 1932 for Yorkshire v Nottinghamshire, still the best bowling analysis ever in first-class cricket. Verity had also taken all ten against Warwickshire at Headingley the year before.
In the 1948 Ashes series, Australia scored 404 for three on the last day to beat England. Arthur Morris scored 182 and Bradman scored 173 not out, still the highest score to win a test match in the Ashes.
In the Third Test against New Zealand in 1965 John Edrich hit 53 fours and 5 sixes in his 310 not out. Captain M.J.K. Smith, rather meanly, declared before Edrich had the chance to pass Gary Sobers Test record 365 not out, but England winning by an innings and 187 runs to justify the decelration.
In the final match of the 1975 Ashes series, early on morning of the match the head groundsman discovered that campaigners calling for the release from prison of the notorious George Davis had dug holes in the pitch and poured engine oil over one end of the wicket. This led to the match being abandoned and declared a draw, denying England the chance to win back the Ashes. Anyone who watched cricket their in the 1990s would say that as a normal Headingly wicket.
In the 1977 Ashes test, the great Geoffrey Boycott scored his hundredth first-class hundred. Four days later, by winning the same game, England won the series and regained the Ashes.
In the legendry 1981 Ashes series, Headingley provided the grand stage for one of the most dramatic comebacks in Test cricket, when England beat Australia by 18 runs. England had followed on 227 runs behind and then collapsed to 135 for seven in their second innings, all but done. But Botham smashed an unbeaten chaotic 149, setting Australia around 120 but Bob Willis taking eight wickets for 43 in a demented spell of bowling, to give England an eventual 18-run victory. This was only the second time in the entire history of Test cricket that a side had followed-on and won; something which would not occur again until 2001.
I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed myself when I recently went to Headingley for the Second Test vs South Africa!England may have not been playing the best cricket but to see the return of Andrew Flintoff and the exciting batting of Kevin Pietersen it was worth it in my eyes.The food and the drink were great and the atmosphere was great and there was always something going on around you and even the rain could not dampen me and my friends spirits!What I found most amusing was a security team called "The Green Team" who had nothing better to do than spoil peoples day and there fun and turn a good situation into a bad one.Barring that there was lots of food stalls and general stalls from the sponsors and a bargain to be had if you can find it!I would like to return soon to watch a 20-20 game for Yorkshire!
There is no doubt that the atmosphere provided by many sporting arenas outweighs the comfort of watching via a comfortable armchair. With the fourth Test between England and West Indies looming at Headingley, Leeds, I felt a quick review of this old ground worthwhile before it is redeveloped at the end of this season. Having watched my cricket over twenty years from almost every area of the ground, I hate to say that it has become quite a tired run down venue. Fairly easy to get to via train, bus and car, the ground is situated in the heart of student land, so parking must be found in the many residential streets adjacent to the ground. Once inside, the views of the playing area are excellent. The actual fabric of the ground now shows its age. Access to bars, food stalls and toilets are adequate but no more. Food and drink prices can be extortionate, as is often the case at sporting events. One interesting marketing (?) strategy is that if you have tickets for the ‘’notorious’’ Western Terrace, you are not allowed to bring alcohol into the ground and only soft drinks in sealed plastic bottles or cartons are allowed. Believe me they really will check this with all the efficiency of the Gestapo. However, once inside, you are free to purchase any amount of alcohol at less than cheap prices! When the rain falls there is virtually zero shelter available, although this is to be addressed when ground improvements are in place for the start of next season. In the meantime why not enjoy this historic ground and its fantastic big match atmosphere. You never know. You might get hooked!
Home ground to Yorkshire and feared test arena. Headingley was once famed for its unreliable pitches. Is this still the case?