Where does the 3rd Ashes 2023 Test rank in the top 5 Headingley classics?

England v Australia - LV= Insurance Ashes 3rd Test Match: Day Four
Mark Wood (R) and Chris Woakes celebrate England’s victory in the third Ashes 2023 Test. (Pic: Getty Images)

England beat Australia by three wickets in the third Ashes 2023 Test at Headingley on Sunday, July 9.

In yet another match that almost went down to the wire, England won the toss and opted to bowl. The visitors were bowled out for 263 despite Mitchell Marsh’s run-a-ball 118 as Mark Wood ran through the Aussie batting line-up with figures of 5/34 in his comeback Test.

In response, England crumbled to 87/5 before skipper Ben Stokes lifted them, scoring 80 off 108 balls. Still, Australia managed to sneak in a 26-run first-innings lead as skipper Pat Cummins picked up six wickets for 91 runs.

It all came down to the second innings as England exploited overcast conditions on Day 3 to bundle out the Aussies for 224 in 67.1 overs. Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes claimed three scalps each, while Wood and Moeen Ali chipped in with two wickets apiece.

Australia fought hard on Day 4, but England sneaked home to victory to keep their Ashes hopes alive.

The third Test of the series was yet another thriller that played out at Headingley. In this feature, we analyze where the match ranks among the top five classic encounters at the venue.

The match that ended on Sunday, ebbed and flowed right till the end. There were some fantastic individual performances from both sides. After Australia lost early wickets on Day 1, Marsh launched a stunning counter-attack to notch up a memorable ton. Wood then ran through the lower order to engineer a shocking batting collapse.

When England batted, they too crumbled. However, Stokes came up with yet another fantastic innings to ensure that the hosts were very much in the hunt. Only one session of play was possible on Day 3, but it was enough for the hosts to ‘swing’ the match England’s way by utilizing the overcast conditions brilliantly.

Broad, Woakes, and Wood were too good for most Australian batters, but Travis Head stood tall once again, hammering a high-quality 77.

Fortunes in the Headingley Test kept swinging like a pendulum till the very end. Chasing 251, England found themselves in big trouble at 171/6 as Mitchell Starc shone with a five-fer.

However, Harry Brook scored an excellent 75 under pressure, while Woakes (32* off 47) and Wood (16* off 8) chipped in with handy knocks as England got over the line.

2023 Headingley Test in Ashes top three

Harry Brook top-scored with 75 in England’s chase of 251. (Pic: Getty Images)
Harry Brook top-scored with 75 in England’s chase of 251. (Pic: Getty Images)

If we look at the top Ashes Test matches played at Headingley, the 2023 match should feature at No. 3. The top two slots would obviously be occupied by the 2019 classic Test, followed by the 1981 Botham’s Test.

The 2019 Headingley Ashes Test was unbelievable in many ways. England were bowled out for a paltry 67 in response to Australia’s first-innings total of 179 as Josh Hazlewood claimed 5/30.

England did well to hold Australia to 246 in their second innings despite Marnus Labuschagne’s 74. However, due to their first-innings batting collapse, they were left with the herculean task of chasing 359 runs to clinch the Test match.

Despite Joe Root’s 77 and Joe Denly’s 50, England looked down and out at 286/9. Stokes, however, struck a magical 135* off 219 balls and took England home to an unbelievable win in the company of Jack Leach. There was plenty of drama in the partnership as Stokes survived an lbw since Australia did not have any reviews left.

With England only a couple of runs away from victory, there was also a straightforward run-out chance missed as Nathan Lyon failed to collect the ball with Leach well out of the crease following a mix-up. The rest is history.

The 1981 Ashes encounter at Headingley was mostly about Botham’s heroics. England were bowled out for 174 in response to Australia’s first-innings total of 401/9, with Botham scoring 50.

Made to follow on, England were struggling at 135/7. Botham then featured in one of the most astounding fightbacks in Test history.

The legendary former all-rounder whacked 27 fours and a six, remaining unbeaten on 149 off 148 balls. England recovered brilliantly to post 356 in their second innings. Set to chase 130, Australia folded up for 111 as Bob Willis starred with 8/43.

Which other Tests feature in the top five?

The 1948 encounter features at No. 4. Sir Donald Bradman's invincibles were set to chase a then-record 404 in the fourth Test of the five-match series. Australia got home by seven wickets! Bradman, who was on the verge of turning 40, remained unbeaten on a brilliant 173.

The Aussie legend featured in a 301-run stand with opener Arthur Morris, who scored an equally terrific 182. Australia won the Test comprehensively, but Bradman never scored another run for them. He was out for a duck at The Oval, bowled by Eric Hollies, in his last Test innings.

Australia celebrate after winning the 1989 Headingley Test. (Pic: Getty Images)
Australia celebrate after winning the 1989 Headingley Test. (Pic: Getty Images)

The 1989 Headingley encounter completes the Top 5. The team that visited England for the Ashes was dubbed by the English media as the worst Australian team to visit their shores. The Aussie responded by winning the first Test at Headingley by 210 runs and the series 4-0.

Batting first, Australia put up 601/7 declared as Mark Taylor scored 136 and Steve Waugh 177*. England responded with 430 as Terry Alderman claimed 5/107.

Australia declared their second innings at 230/3 after which England were all-out for 191 in a chase of 402. Alderman claimed another five-fer.

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Edited by Samya Majumdar
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