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[ ground guide ]


Headingley is a cricket ground that stirs the emotions of England fans. Ask a cricket supporter about the home of Yorkshire cricket and, providing they are of a certain age, thoughts of 1981 will not be far away. The ground in Leeds provides a special atmosphere for watching cricket, occasionally ruined in the past by a small collection of thugs. It is the most successful venue for England, who have won nearly 45 per cent of their games here.

Headingley became a first-class venue in the late summer of 1890. Yorkshire had originally played their cricket at nearby Bradford. The following summer, they embarked on their county championship campaign at the ground, which by 1899 was considered fit for Test cricket. The game, between England and Australia, ended in a draw after John Hearne picked up a hat-trick for England. In 1907, Colin Blythe took 15-99 in England's victory over South Africa.

The inter-war years saw some of Headingley's best cricket. In the 1930 Ashes Test, Don Bradman hit his first Test triple-century (including 309 on day one). His double century, from 214 minutes, was the quickest recorded. Four years later, Bradman made 304 at Headingley, sharing a partnership of 388 with Bill Ponsford.

In 1948 Bradman, on his last tour to England, made 173 and Arthur Morris 182 as Australia chased 404 to win on the last day. Peter May made a century on Test debut at the ground in 1951. England had remarkable success at Headingley during this period, winning six straight Tests between 1956 and 1962. Nearly sixty years after Hearne's effort, Peter Loader took a hat-trick in the 1957 Test.

On then to 1981. Following on 227 runs behind, England found themselves 135-7 in the second innings. Botham's incredible, fortune-filled 149, and Graham Dilley's 56 at least gave England something to bowl at. Bob Willis, bowling with the look of a madman, took 8-43, and the BBC subjected Australians to torture with recorded highlights at every rain break for the next decade.

Before the final day of the Headingley Test of 2001, some critics mused about the possibility of another extraordinary victory. Sure enough, against all odds, England reached their victory target (only set because of rain) of 315 with time to spare. Mark Butcher was the hero, making a sumptuous 173.

Headingley, of course has all the usual facilities. The old Western Terrace, occasionally the scene of ugly racism, has been replaced and is generally a good-humoured place to sit. The ground has been smartened up considerably thanks to a regeneration plan. There are plenty of bars and fast food outlets, a shop and good access for disabled spectators.

How to get there:

Headingley is a western suburb in the city of Leeds, with a sizeable student population. The cricket ground is next door to the rugby league ground. The stadium is located on St. Michael's Lane.

Leeds bus station is on Dyer Street; this is where National Express coaches stop. See for fare details. Leeds train station is over two miles from the ground, but you can pick up a local service to Headingley. If you are travelling from far away, be prepared to change trains as many as three times. Check with National Rail Enquiries (08457 48 49 50). Buses 1 and 95 stop in Headingley, or the trip can easily be made by taxi.


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