Pitch report – Headingley, Leeds


We run the rule over the venue for the second and final Test between England and Sri Lanka – home to Gary Ballance, Joe Root and Liam Plunkett.

<b>Established:</b> 1890<br><b>Capacity:</b> 17,000<br><b>Floodlights:</b> No<br><b>Ends:</b> Kirkstall Lane End, Football Stand End<br><b>Home Team:</b> Yorkshire<br><b>Test History:</b> 72 Tests; 31 home wins; 22 away wins; 1 neutral win; 18 draws<br><b>Last 10 Tests:</b> 4 home wins; 4 away wins; 1 neutral win, 1 draw<br><b>Last 10 tosses:</b> 7 batted first (5 wins, 2 defeats); 3 bowled first (2 wins, 1 draw)

<b>Overview</b><br>Headingley is a ground with almost unrivalled tradition and history, but was in need of significant redevelopment for some time. Late last decade, the venue finally got a deserved makeover – and is set for more before 2019.

With the £21m development at the Kirkstall Lane end complete, the new Carnegie Pavilion contains new player changing rooms, world-class media facilities, the provision of teaching amenities – the pavilion is a joint-venture with Leeds Metropolitan University – and corporate hospitality areas.

Yorkshire, too, have honoured one of their great fast bowlers, Fred Trueman, by naming the members' enclosure in the pavilion after the man who took 307 Test wickets for England at an average of just 21.57. Right-armer James Anderson, meanwhile, is quickly closing in on a Trueman-esque career aggregate – and <a href='http://www.paddypower.com/bet/cricket/cricket-test-matches/England-V-Sri-Lanka-7147820.html' target='_blank' class='instorylink'><b>is well tipped to take the most wickets in Leeds</b></a>.

The pitch has not been affected by the redevelopment, and Headingley can usually be relied on for a result. Indeed, there hadn't been a draw in Leeds since a rain-affected Test against Pakistan in 1996, until South Africa forced a stalemate in 2012. In 1981, Ian Botham and Bob Willis combined to see England to an astonishing Ashes victory after being forced to follow on by the Australians as the home side went on to win the urn in a series known ever after as Botham's Ashes.

The club, meanwhile, have unveiled an ambitious development plan to ensure Headingley remains a viable international venue, which will eventually bring a new pavilion, permanent floodlights and an increased capacity to 20,000. This could cost as much as £50m but, despite the Yorkshire's fragile fiscal standing, is important to the ground's international future.

<b>Last Time Out</b><br>Rain and bad light marred the bulk of May 2013's second Test, but England still managed to force a convincing 247-run victory. Swing and seam lined the opening 90 overs, with eight of England's 10 wickets caught behind in a final total of 354 all out.

Spin then took precedence, with the in-form Graeme Swann and part-timer Kane Williamson capitalising on a slowing – not necessarily crumbling – pitch. All out for just 174, the New Zealanders later conceded a declaration of 287 for five, and duly slumped to 220 all out in turn after lunch on day five.

<b>They Said</b><br>"If we have three in the England team, a couple in the Lions, possibly five with the Under-19s and a couple in the under-17s, we could have 11 or 12 lads away. We are the county with the longest wait for a trophy, but we've produced the most England players. So what is regarded as success? It kind of frustrates me because in black and white terms we're judged on not winning any trophies, but one of the reasons is we can't play our best team all the time." – Yorkshire director of cricket <b>Martyn Moxon</b>.

"I believe we are eighth in the list of Test match venues. I believe our facilities are behind Hampshire and Durham for international cricket, as well as those of the other Test centres. Unless we develop the ground over the next few years, our chances of retaining international cricket post-2019 are very slim, which is why we have put together this masterplan for Headingley. If we didn't take action, we might get the odd one-day match against one of the smaller cricket countries, but the days of Test matches here would be gone." – Yorkshire's chief executive <b>Mark Arthur</b>.

"This is the most ambitious project the club and the venue will have undertaken since the ground was first established 125 years ago. Our ambitions are clear. We want to create a stadium that is amongst finest in the world and enable Yorkshire to continue to stage major international fixtures over the long term. It is vital that we don't lose sight of our objectives. As other venues around the country continue to invest in their facilities, we cannot afford to standstill and expect that Headingley will always host international cricket. The stark reality is that if our stadium fails to evolve we will lose our Test Match status, which would be a devastating blow to the region." – Yorkshire chairman <b>Colin Graves</b>.

<b>Happy Hunting Ground</b><br>Home captain <b>Alastair Cook</b>'s Headingley average has moved to 41.63 after 458 runs in 11 innings, some five runs poorer than his career aggregate of 47.07. This, too, was bolstered by last year's Leeds century against New Zealand.

All-rounder <b>Joe Root</b>, batsman <b>Gary Ballance</b> and seamer <b>Liam Plunkett</b>, of course, all represent Yorkshire in Division One of the County Championship – and will know conditions all but back to front.

Sri Lanka, who were granted Test status in 1982, have never played a Test match at Headingley, which debuted as an international venue in 1899. The veteran <b>Mahela Jayawardene</b> and <b>Kumar Sangakkara</b>, however, did amass 144 and 69 respecitvely in July 2011's big second ODI victory.

<b>Weather Forecast</b><br>A small percentage of rain will threaten days one through three, but presumably not enough to halt proceedings for an extended period, if at all. Mostly cloudy conditions will prevail throughout, with temperatures expected to pique at peak 21 degrees Celsius and trough at 15.

<b>Conclusion</b><br>Cloudy overhead conditions in Leeds on Wednesday, as has been the case across this season's County Championship, will likely prompt the toss-winning captain to bowl first.

Two innings victories for Yorkshire and a low-scoring stalemate have typified Headingley's first-class cricket this year, with one-sided run-heavy results taking a backseat to entertaining competition.A contest of a similar nature can be expected this week.

England, despite the success of spinner Swann last year, are going to go into the game without a specialist. Sri Lanka, meanwhile, are not going to load the XI with a second slow bowler.

The hosts' Test victories at this venue have come in lumps of three – versus New Zealand, Pakistan and West Indies in 2004, 2006 and 2007 respectively and against South Africa, West Indies and Australia in 1998, 2000 and 2001 respectively – and <a href='http://www.paddypower.com/bet/cricket/cricket-test-matches/England-V-Sri-Lanka-7147820.html' target='_blank' class='instorylink'><b>Paddy Power's 5/6 odds of an English victory</b></a> suggest a third patch will continue.