Pitch report: Headingley, Leeds

England

It will require a huge amount of concentration from the Black Caps if they want to level the series, as England's pace bowlers enjoy this venue and are on a high after their success in the first Test.

<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> 71 Tests; 30 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 (4 wins, 3 defeats); 3 bowled first (2 wins, 1 draw)

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

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.

Meanwhile, Yorkshire 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.

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.

<b>Last Time Out</b><br>South Africa were the most recent visitors to Headingley, in August 2012, and the game ended in a draw that was most remember for Kevin Pietersen's antics on and off the field.

The mercurial batsman scored a superb, thrilling century for England that nearly won them the game, and then followed that up with the press conference that sparked months of drama between himself and the powers-that-be.

As it was, the match was a high-scoring one initially, before the track became trickier for batting. Alviro Petersen was the hero for the Proteas in the first innings, scoring 182 of their 419 runs, while Graeme Smith recorded a half century.

Pietersen then smashed 149 on day three, destroying the Proteas attack in the evening session, but was out the next morning without adding a run, and the bowlers began to dominate. England were all out for 425, with spinner Imran Tahir taking three wickets.

South Africa's second innings relied on an all-round effort from the top order, with Jacques Rudolph and Smith bagging half tons, while AB de Villiers made 44 as the visitors inched towards 258 for nine before declaring late on day five. Stuart Broad bagged a five-fer in that time.

England's target was 253, but it was never an option, and the game petered out to a draw as the hosts made 130 for four before shaking hands with the opposition. It was a rare stalemate at the venue, the first in a Test since 1996.

<b>They Said</b><br>New Zealand bowling coach Shane Bond ahead of the Test: "Headingley has changed a bit from the time I played there, the slopes are gone and the wicket is pretty flat. I read an article that seamers have had some success here so we'll just have to wait and see."

Kiwi coach Mike Hesson predicted good conditions for batting: "It's been pretty flat this year and it'll be interesting to see what they do with the surface. The old days of Headingley nipping around seems to be in the past."

<b>Happy Hunting Ground</b><br>Given that the best current England player at this ground, Kevin Pietersen, isn't fit to play, the mantle falls to skipper <b>Alastair Cook</b>, who is a whopping 700 runs behind Sir Don Bradman, who played one less Test here.

Cook has an average of 32 here, with one half ton, and there are no other current England batsmen on the list. None of the current Black Caps have tasted success in Leeds.

As for the bowlers, <b>Stuart Broad</b> has enjoyed the most success of the current crop, including his five-fer last time out, and has 15 wickets to his name here in three outings. Tim Bresnan could also be given a run, given his success for Yorkshire.

<b>Weather Forecast</b><br>As was the case at Lord's, it's going to be less than pleasant in the middle, with temperatures not set to go above 15 degrees. Rain is also set to threaten the game, with days one and four looking particularly dark.

<b>Conclusion</b><br>If the deck has become as flat as people are saying, the side winning the toss will likely choose to field first if it's cloudy overhead. Inclement weather usually signals good swing, and the sides will be keen to take advantage of that.

It will require a huge amount of concentration from the Black Caps if they want to level the series, as England's pace bowlers enjoy this venue and are on a high after their success in the first Test.

But the Kiwis have decent bowlers too, and England's batsmen will need to improve from their lacklustre showing at Lord's (Joe Root aside) and not hand all the hard work to James Anderson and Stuart Broad.

If the rain stays away though, a result is likely, and one would have to back England to make it a two nil series win.

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