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5 of the best Test matches at Headingley

| 03.07.2023

Headingley hosts the third Ashes Test between England and Australia this week and has witnessed some remarkable matches down the years.

The 2019 match produced one of England’s greatest Ashes moments and ahead of the next chapter in the history of the Leeds venue, we look at five of the best Test matches at Headingley.

England v Australia, fourth Test, 1948

England’s successful chase of 359 in 2019 was the 10th highest in the fourth innings of a Test – but not a Headingley record.

England made 496 and 365 for eight declared in July 1948 to set Australia, who made 458 in their first innings, 404 to win.

The great Sir Don Bradman made 173 not out and put on 301 with opener Arthur Morris, who top-scored with 182, as the tourists completed what at the time was a record chase – and remains fourth in the all-time list – with seven wickets to spare.

The match aggregate of 1,723 runs was the sixth highest of all time – four of the five above it were draws, with the top two being “timeless Tests” featuring nine and seven days’ play respectively.

England v Australia, third Test, 1981

“Botham’s Ashes” sparked into life as all-rounder Sir Ian rescued England from a seemingly hopeless position facing odds of 500/1 with bookmakers.

Following on 227 behind, England slumped to 41 for four and 105 for five before Botham, who had taken six for 95 in Australia’s first innings, strode to the wicket.

He smashed 149 at a run a ball and put on 117 with tail-ender Graham Dilley (56) to at least give his side hope.

Australia still needed only 130 to win but Bob Willis took eight for 43 to bowl them out for 111 and England went on to win the series 3-1, Botham taking five for 11 at Edgbaston and 10 wickets in the dead rubber at The Oval as well as scoring 118 at Old Trafford.

England v Australia, fourth Test, 2001

Mark Butcher’s finest hour in an England shirt punished an aggressive Australian declaration at 176 for four as the hosts chased down 315 for the loss of four wickets.

The Surrey left-hander stroked a Test-best 173 not out and was backed up by captain Nasser Hussain’s half-century as England bounced back from a first-innings deficit of 138, brought about by Glenn McGrath’s seven for 76.

It would prove only a consolation win, however, in an otherwise one-sided 4-1 series win for the Baggy Green.

England v West Indies, second Test, 2017

Leeds has hosted four of the top 30 chases in Test history – twice as many as any other ground – after Kraigg Brathwaite and Shai Hope starred for the Windies.

England’s 490 for eight declared left the tourists chasing 322 but, having both made first-innings hundreds, opener Brathwaite laid the platform with 95 and Hope, with 118 not out, saw the job through in fading light with the help of Jermaine Blackwood’s hard-hitting 41.

England won the series decider at Lord’s a fortnight later but Hope, who averaged 19 before the Test, went on to establish himself as a top-order mainstay for his country while Brathwaite was hastily drafted in to close out the season at Headingley as Yorkshire’s overseas player.

England v Australia, third Test, 2019

Two fearsome bowling attacks and two fragile batting line-ups saw Australia bowled out on day one for 179 before England crumbled to 67 all out in reply.

Marnus Labuschagne added 80 to his first-innings 74 to seemingly put the tourists in command as they set England 359 to win and keep the Ashes alive.

Joe Root and Joe Denly’s dogged half-centuries and partnership of 126 raised home hopes but as in the World Cup final just over a month previously, it was Ben Stokes who produced an innings of astonishing nerve to win the match. Having made two from his first 50 balls, he finished with 11 fours and eight sixes in his 135 not out.

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Andrew McDermott

Andrew is a sports betting content journalist at PA Media. He is a lifelong Huddersfield Town fan but when he isn't reminiscing about their Premier League days he is also a junior cricket coach and enjoys cycling.