New Zealand will, in 2022, as World Test Champions, play an eagerly-awaited Test match at Headingley – its ninth on the ground and its first for seven years. With tickets now on general sale, Paul Dyson regards it as an appropriate time to re-visit its previous eight such games in Leeds.
New Zealand first appeared in a Headingley Test match in 1949 despite it having achieved Test status almost 20 years previously. This match was one of a series of four; all of the games were drawn even though there was an over-rate of more than 20 per hour throughout the series. Despite this, the restriction imposed by them being three-day Tests was the major factor in the results. They were the last Test matches to be played over such a short time-span.
Headingley hosted the first Test of that 1949 series; England gained a first innings lead of 31 and a declaration set New Zealand 299 to win in 150 minutes. Trevor Bailey took six for 118 in his first bowl at this level and there were centuries for Len Hutton, Denis Compton and Cyril Washbrook. Nine years later the visitors had a five-game series and Headingley hosted the third Test. The first two days were washed out but England lost only two wickets in winning by an innings. The visitors made only 67 and England then declared with a 200-run lead thanks to centuries by Arthur Milton on debut and skipper Peter May. New Zealand had no answer to the spin of Tony Lock (11-65) and Jim Laker (8-44).
In 1965 New Zealand succumbed to another innings defeat but at least the game did last five days. John Edrich led the way with 310 not out; he shared a stand of 369 with Ken Barrington (163) and, like Milton seven years earlier, was on the field for the entire duration of the game. Off-spinner Fred Titmus had second-innings figures of 26-17-19-5, this including four wickets in one over. Another five-day innings victory for England at Headingley came in 1973; Yorkshire’s Geoff Boycott made a century and New Zealand’s Richard Collinge took five wickets. Although the visitors needed only 143 to make England bat again they failed by one run. This was mainly due to Geoff Arnold’s figures of 22-11-27-5 but the hosts were held up by Glenn Turner who scored 81 – 57% of his side’s total.
It was another 10 years before New Zealand again visited Headingley to play in a Test match but, as the visitors recorded their first victory on English soil, it was worth the wait. The remarkable fact about the game is that the country’s greatest-ever bowler – Richard Hadlee – did not take a single wicket. Instead, the honours went to Bruce Cairns who took seven wickets in England’s first innings and ten in the match, Ewan Chatfield also taking a five-for. Although David Gower made a century in England’s second innings, New Zealand’s target was only 101; Bob Willis took five wickets but the other bowlers remained wicketless.