On July 13, 1974, India made their ODI debut at the venue. Almost a year later, they won their first-ever World Cup match here – against East Africa.
Yorkshire County Cricket Club, a record 33-time County Championship winner, finally dismantled its stringent rule in 1992 and signed their first overseas cricketer – Sachin Tendulkar.
India’s other famous moments at the venue came under Kapil Dev in 1986 and Sourav Ganguly in 2002 (the two Tests we will discuss later in this article). India’s last game at the venue was their 2019 World Cup league match against Sri Lanka. The win saw India top the league tables, winning seven of their eight matches.
India may not have a good Test record in England, but they haven’t lost a Leeds Test in the past 52 years.
1952: Fred Trueman overshadows the Vijays to destroy India on his Test debut
India’s first match at Headingley was a rather memorable affair for several reasons. It marked the debut of Yorkshire’s own Fred Trueman, one of the greats of the sport.
Electing to bat, India were 42 for three before skipper Vijay Hazare and Vijay Manjrekar added a 222-run stand, with the latter slamming his maiden Test hundred in his third national appearance.
Manjrekar played with complete authority, mastering both pace and spin. The tail didn’t wag, and India managed 293.
England managed a 41-run lead and the Test hung in the balance before drama struck the visitors on Day 3. India were reduced to 0 for four, the then worst-ever start in Test cricket, with Trueman claiming three of the first four wickets.
India’s then wicketkeeper Madhav Mantri would recall how skipper Hazare had surprised the teammates by changing the batting line-up in the second innings. Mantri was promoted at no.3 and Manjrekar at four, with both getting ducks. Mantri would call Hazare’s decision-making “an act of self-preservation”, which shouldn’t have been allowed.
A 95-run stand between Hazare and Dattu Phadkar helped India set a target of over a 100. But Trueman, then 21, lived up to the reputation of being a tearaway pacer, instilling horror into the Indian camp. He finished the series with 29 wickets from four Tests at an average of 13.31.
India 293 (Vijay Hazare 89, Vijay Manjrekar 133; Fred Trueman 3/89, Jim Laker 4/39) & 165 (Vijay Hazare 56, Dattu Phadkar 64; Fred Trueman 4/27, Roly Jenkins 4/50) lost to England 334 (Tom Graveney 71, Allan Watkins 48, Godfrey Evans 66; Ghulam Ahmed 5/100) & 128 for 3 (Reg Simpson 51) by seven wickets
1959: England rout India inside 3 days
It was a tame surrender by the touring Indians, who gave England the series 3-0 without even posing a fight.
Electing to bat, India were four down for 23 on the board. They never recovered and slumped to an innings defeat.
The Test marked the debut of controversial English pacer Harold Rhodes. His whippy action later became much debated, and his international career came to an end after he was called for throwing.
India 161 (Fred Trueman 3/30, Harold Rhodes 4/50) & 149 (Chandu Borde 41; John Mortimore 3/36, Brian Close 4/35) lost to England 483 for 8 dec (Gilbert Parkhouse 78, Geoff Pullar 75, Colin Cowdrey 160, Ken Barrington 80; Subhash Gupte 4/111) by an innings and 173 runs
1967: England seal win over India despite Geoffrey Boycott's 'yawnathon'
A poor batting display from India in their first innings cost them the Test that witnessed a sublime batting display from their skipper Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi. The defeat here meant India had now suffered a hat-trick of defeats at the venue. However, since then India haven't lost a Test at Headingley.
Otherwise, the Test is best remembered for local Yorkshireman Geoffrey Boycott's unbeaten 246, an innings much criticized than revered. He batted over nine hours to pile on the runs but still lost his place in the England side for the next Test for "selfish batting".
England 550 for 4 dec (Geoffrey Boycott 246*, Ken Barrington 93, Tom Graveney 59, Basil D'Oliveria 109) & 126 for 4 (Ken Barrington 46; Bhagwath Chandrasekhar 3/50) beat India 164 (Farokh Engineer 42, MAK Pataudi 64; Robin Hobbs 3/45, Ray Illingworth 3/31) & 510 (Farokh Engineer 87, Ajit Wadekar 91, Hanumant Singh 73, MAK Pataudi 148) by six wickets
1979: Leeds' weather betrays
England elected to bat, and the weather washed off most of the first day. There was no play in the next two days. Ian Botham played a blinder on the fourth day as wickets tumbled for England at the other end. India batted on the fifth day without much drama as the Test ended in a draw.
Graham Gooch did provide some entertainment to the spectators in the final over of the Test by imitating popular bowling actions.
England 270 (Ian Botham 137; Kapil Dev 3/84) drew with India 223 for 6 (Sunil Gavaskar 78, Yashpal Sharma 40, Dilip Vengsarkar 65*)
1986: A Dilip Vengsarkar-inspired India seal series win
India created history at Headingley by sealing their second-ever series win in England. Already low on morale after losing the first Test at Lord's, the hosts suffered major blows with the absence of their stars David Gower and Ian Botham.
In conditions not well suited to batting, Dilip Vengsarkar's grit made all the difference as he rode on his excellent form and made the difference for India.
The decisive 2-0 lead meant that Kapil Dev's India had won the series. It remains the only time an Indian team won more than one Test in England during a tour.
India 272 (Dilip Vengsarkar 61; Graham Dilley 3/54, Derek Pringle 3/47) & 237 (Dilip Vengsarkar 102*; John Lever 4/64, Derek Pringle 4/73) beat England 102 (Madan Lal 3/18, Roger Binny 5/40) & 128 (Maninder Singh 4/26) by 279 runs
2002: India script a fairytale at Headingley
After a loss at Lord’s and a draw at Trent Bridge, a greenish surface awaited the Indians at Leeds. Worse, talks of a contract dispute were keeping morale low too.
The track did have demons, but India surprised the fraternity by electing to bat first. And on a surface that seemed like a pacer’s paradise, Ganguly decided to include both spinners, Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble.
The platform for good things to come was set up by Rahul Dravid and Sanjay Bangar’s 170-run second-wicket stand. England’s then skipper Nasser Hussain described Dravid’s century as one of the best he had seen.
When the pitch was slightly easier to bat on, Yorkshire’s prodigal son, Tendulkar, feasted on it. The club’s first overseas cricketer had no first-class hundreds on this ground before this Test. In what was his 99th Test, he went past Sir Don Bradman’s century tally to register his 30th hundred.
Ganguly, by then already an ODI great, lit up the venue with his pyrotechnics. Tendulkar-Ganguly slammed 96 runs off 11 overs despite the fading light, finally adding a 249-run fourth-wicket stand in less than 60 overs.
It remained the only instance when all three in this famous trio of Indian cricket scored a hundred in the same innings.
The decision to play two spinners paid off, with Kumble claiming seven wickets in the Test as India leveled the series 1-1. It was India’s first win in England since the one at Leeds in 1986.
India 628 for 8 dec (Sanjay Bangar 68, Rahul Dravid 148, Sachin Tendulkar 193, Sourav Ganguly 128; Andy Caddick 3/150) beat England 273 (Michael Vaughan 61, Alec Stewart 78*; Anil Kumble 3/93, Harbhajan Singh 3/40) & 309 (Nasser Hussain 110, Alec Stewart 47; Anil Kumble 4/66) by an innings and 46 runs
Trivia: The last Test played at this venue was the Ashes match that England won by one wicket, courtesy of Ben Stokes’ spellbinding 135 not out – an innings arguably termed the greatest in Test history.