Whether it’s the inconsistent wicket, the swirling Yorkshire winds, or the raucous west stand, no one quite knows, but, for some reason, Headingley is fast becoming a cursed cricket ground for England.
Their most recent Test match – against South Africa, last week – ended in a draw and stretched England’s winless streak at the Yorkshire stadium to four matches. They have not won on the ground since May 2007 against a lowly West Indies, when England were at the peak of their game.
England defied the Betfair Cricket Odds to humiliatingly lose the Headingley Test during the 2009 Ashes, a match that they otherwise dominated, going down by an innings against the worst Australia team to tour in decades.
The second Test against South Africa really did hit home just how cursed Headingley is becoming. Having been completely outplayed in their first Test at the Oval, England had a fortnight to figure out what went wrong and prepare for a trip to Leeds.
They gambled in leaving out spinner, Graeme Swann, for another paceman, Steven Finn: it didn’t pay off.
Their inability to restrict South Africa in the opening innings meant a tricky 419 score had to be overturned. England’s reliance on Kevin Pietersen to bring in the runs was unnerving to watch, with none of the top six getting anywhere near a half-century, let alone KP’s 149.
South Africa were dominant in the second innings too, and again it was only Pietersen’s spin that gave England an inkling of hope: KP providing what Swann would have done, taking South Africa’s top three batsmen.
England betting fans were lucky that bad weather prevented the Proteas taking a 2-0 lead in the series, yet they were nevertheless left to scratch their heads and wonder why this ground continues to offer nothing in the way of success.