BBC Sport cricket


Related BBC sites

Page last updated at 15:57 GMT, Tuesday, 4 August 2009 16:57 UK

Classic Ashes clashes: Headingley

1981 - Third Test, Headingley
16, 17, 18, 20 & 21 July
England won by 18 runs


Test Match Special audio highlights from the 1981 Ashes series

Single Tests are often dubbed after players, but the 1981 series has gone down in history as "Botham's Ashes".

The drama started at Headingley with the visitors on the verge of wrapping up an easy win within four days to go 2-0 up.

Up stepped Ian Botham with a gung-ho 149 to at least make Australia bat again, when an inspired Bob Willis swept through their line-up with 8-43.

It sealed a remarkable 18-run win and signalled an about turn in the series which England went on to win 3-1.

Ian Botham
Australia 401-9 dec
John Dyson 102
Kim Hughes 89
Ian Botham 6-95
England 174 all out
Ian Botham 50
England 356 all out
Ian Botham 149*
Graham Dilley 56
Terry Alderman 6-135
Australia 111 all out
Bob Willis 8-43

It was the second time in the history of Test cricket that the side following-on had won and England's unbelievable victory defied all logic.

Botham had just resigned the captaincy after a Lord's draw in which he registered his only Test pair. He was replaced at the helm by former skipper Mike Brearley.

Having won the toss, Australia chose to bat and carded 401-9 declared, with John Dyson constructing a diligent 102 and half-centuries coming from Kim Hughes and Graham Yallop.

Botham captured 6-95 and then scored a half-century in England's first innings, but it was the only respectable score and the hosts were invited to follow on.

While Australia were convinced of victory, despite some players betting on an England win at 500/1, Brearley's boys booked out of their hotel on Monday morning in the belief they would be beaten by the end of the day.

Dennis Lillee's dismissal of Peter Willey saw him pass Hugh Trumble's Ashes record of 141 dismissals, and at 135-7 it looked as if England had lost the Test - and Lillee and Rod Marsh their money.

But then came the incredible turnaround.

Botham swung the bat and, with support from Graham Dilley, added 117 in 80 minutes. Another 67 came with Chris Old at the other end, and by the close of the day England had to find some hotel beds.

Botham and Willis added just five more runs the next morning to leave Australia a target of 130 to win, and at 56-1 they were firm favourites to do just that.

653-4d Aus v Eng, 1993
628-8d Ind v Eng, 2002
601-7d Aus v Eng, 1989

However, Willis changed ends, and bowling into the wind charged in like a man possessed to take 8-43, the best analysis of his career. Australia were undone - all out for 111 - and a legend was born.

Headingley is often associated with bowling and overcast conditions, but the great batsmen have prospered there, and a certain D Bradman scored two triple centuries.

Local hero Geoffrey Boycott scored a memorable 100th first-class hundred in the Ashes Test of 1977.

Fittingly, another of Headingley's favourite sons, Fred Trueman, holds the record for most number of Test wickets at the ground, with 44 from nine matches costing only 18 runs apiece.

Two legendary West Indian fast bowlers are the leading overseas wicket-takers, Malcolm Marshall and Curtly Ambrose both taking 23 wickets from four matches, both at a superb average of just 14.


Peter Sutcliffe "The Yorkshire Ripper" was arrested, Ronald Reagan succeeded Jimmy Carter to become the 40th President of the United States, Australian mogul Rupert Murdoch bought the Times and Sunday Times, and Lady Diana Spencer married Prince Charles.

In sport, the first London Marathon was run and John McEnroe beat Bjorn Borg in four sets in the men's Wimbledon final.

In the UK music charts, The Specials were at number one at the time of the Headingley Test with the appropriately haunting "Ghost Town".

And it was also the year of Chariots of Fire, the Oscar-winning film about Britain's success on the track at the 1924 Olympics.

Print Sponsor

see also
Ashes review - 1981 (UK only)
27 May 09 |  Cricket
Trott gets surprise England call
04 Aug 09 |  England
Ashes memories: Edgbaston
27 Jul 09 |  Cricket
Ashes memories: Lord's
14 Jul 09 |  Cricket
Australia in England 2009
20 Sep 09 |  England
Live cricket on the BBC
26 Oct 11 |  Cricket
Ashes Legends XI
18 Sep 06 |  England

related bbc links:

related internet links:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites