3 most iconic Ashes Tests at Headingley

England v Australia - 3rd Specsavers Ashes Test: Day Four
Ben Stokes during the 2019 Headingley Test. (Pic: Getty Images)

The third Test of Ashes 2023 will be played at Headingley in Leeds from Thursday, July 6. England will need to win the Test to stay alive in the five-match series, having lost the first two matches. After a close two-wicket loss at Edgbaston, England would have hoped for a better result at Lord’s, but it wasn’t to be.

They have a great chance to seize the early advantage in the second Test after winning the toss and bowling first under overcast conditions. However, they squandered the opportunity as their bowlers allowed Australia to post 339/5 on Day 1 of the contest.

England recovered well to bowl out the Aussies for 416. However, their batters failed to build on the fightback, slipping from 188/1 to 325 all-out, conceding a significant first-innings lead.

The hosts came up with an impressive short-ball ploy in the second innings, but the Aussies did well enough to set England a challenging target of 371. Despite Ben Stokes’ superb 155, the Englishmen fell short, going 0-2 down in the five-match rubber.

As England and Australia resume their Ashes 2023 battle at Headingley, we look back at the three most iconic Ashes clashes at the venue.

#3 (1989) - Australia won by 210 runs

Steve Waugh of Australia hits out on his way to 177 not out. (Pic: Getty Images)
Steve Waugh of Australia hits out on his way to 177 not out. (Pic: Getty Images)

The Australian team that went to England for the 1989 Ashes was labeled by the English media as the worst Aussie side to visit their shores. However, Australia proved otherwise in the very first Test at Headingley, defeating England by 210 runs.

Sent into bat after losing the toss, the visitors put up 601/7 declared as Mark Taylor scored 136 and Steve Waugh 177*. Skipper Allan Border (66) and Dean Jones (79) chipped in with handy half-centuries. Despite Allan Lamb’s 125, England were held to 430 as Terry Alderman claimed 5/107.

Half-centuries from Taylor and Border in the second innings saw Australia declare at 230/3. Set to chase, 402, England folded up for 191, with only Graham Gooch (68) crossing the half-century mark.

For Australia, Alderman claimed another five-fer, running through the England batting with figures of 5/44.


Australia went on to win the series 4-0 and did not lose any Ashes series until 2005.

#2 (1981) - England won by 18 runs

Ian Botham was unstoppable at Headingley in 1981. (Pic: Twitter)
Ian Botham was unstoppable at Headingley in 1981. (Pic: Twitter)

The 1981 Ashes is often referred to as Botham’s Ashes due to the former England all-rounder’s dominance in the series. The third Test of the series at Headingley is specifically remembered for his legendary performance.

Australia batted first in the match and put up 401/9 declared as John Dyson scored 102 and Kim Hughes 89. For England, Sir Ian Botham shone with figures of 6/95. Dennis Lillee (4/49), Alderman (3/59), and Geoff Lawson (3/32) came up with excellent performances for the visitors as the Englishmen were rolled over for 174, with Botham’s 50 being the only knock of note.

Made to follow-on, England collapsed to 41/4. Geoff Boycott (46) and Peter Willey (33) showed some resistance, but the hosts seemed gone for all money at 135/7. Botham then launched one of the greatest fightbacks in Test history.


The all-rounder featured in an eighth-wicket stand of 117 with Graham Dilley (56 off 75). Botham played some stunning strokes, clobbering 27 fours and a six in his unbeaten 149 off 148 balls.

England ended their second innings on 356. Bob Willis (8/43) then ran through Australia’s batting as the visitors collapsed for 111, chasing 130.

#1 (2019) - England won by 1 wicket

Ben Stokes and Jack Leach celebrate an unforgettable win. (Pic: Getty Images)
Ben Stokes and Jack Leach celebrate an unforgettable win. (Pic: Getty Images)

It was next to impossible to separate the 1981 and 2019 Tests when it came to picking the number one slot among iconic Ashes Tests at Headingley.

In the 2019 encounter, England were embarrassingly bowled out for 67 in 27.5 overs, responding to Australia’s first-innings total of 179. Josh Hazlewood stood out for the Aussies with figures of 5/30.

A good combined effort from England’s bowlers held Australia to 246 in their second innings. Marnus Labuschagne, who had scored 74 in the first innings for the Aussies, contributed 80 in the second. Despite the brilliant comeback, England needed 359 runs to clinch the Test match.

The hosts lost openers Rory Burns (7) and Jason Roy (8) cheaply in the chase. Joe Root (77) and Joe Denly (50) gave England hope. But at 286/9, it seemed that only the formalities remained.

However, it’s never over when Stokes is at the crease. The talismanic all-rounder featured in a legendary stand with last-man Jack Leach (1*) to take England home to one of their most famous Test cricket.


In a breathtaking display, Stokes struck 11 fours and eight sixes in his 135* off 219 balls. The left-handed batter had some luck as he survived an lbw dismissal since Australia did not have a review left.

There was also the simple run-out chance that Nathan Lyon missed with Jack Leach well out of the crease with England only a couple of runs away from victory. Stokes, though, deserved every bit of luck for he played an outstanding innings.

Get WPL Auction 2024 Live Updates & Latest News. Follow Sportskeeda for more News Around Cricket

Quick Links

Edited by Samya Majumdar
Be the first one to comment