England v South Africa 2008 / News

England v South Africa, 2nd npower Test, Headingley

The Headingley specialists

S Rajesh

July 18, 2008

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Darren Pattinson's inclusion in the England team for the second Test against South Africa at Headingley was another instance of the selectors picking a bowler who would exploit the conditions at Leeds. Cricinfo looks at the fortunes of some of the other bowlers who were picked specifically because their bowling style was thought to be suited to conditions at Headingley.


Kabir Ali took five wickets in his debut Test, at Headingley, but didn't get a look-in again © Getty Images
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Steve Watkin: In a match which will forever be remembered for Graham Gooch's masterclass, one of the debutants was Steve Watkin, a medium-pacer from Glamorgan whose forte was his ability to get seam movement and bounce in helpful conditions. Against West Indies in 1991, the uneven pitch and overcast conditions were perfect for him: Desmond Haynes was his maiden victim as Watkin picked up a couple of wickets in West Indies' first innings. In the second, he was even more effective: though he served up plenty of half-volleys, he was lethal when he landed it accurately. Carl Hooper, Viv Richards and Gus Logie all fell for single-digit scores as Watkin finished with slightly unusual figures of 7-0-38-3, as England rode to victory by 115 runs. Watkin only played two more Tests, though, despite going on the tour to the Caribbean in 1993-94.

Neil Mallender: This 'horses for courses' selection worked wonderfully, as Neil Mallender used the Headingley conditions expertly on his Test debut against Pakistan in 1992. On a sluggish pitch which occasionally kept low and in conditions which assisted seam and swing, Mallender controlled his pace cleverly and took three wickets in the first innings. Buoyed by that performance, he was much more confident, and deadly, in the second, taking 5 for 50 and finishing with match figures of 8 for 122, the best by an England debutant for nine years. He didn't do badly in the next Test at The Oval, but he dropped from the squad for the tours to India and Sri Lanka on the premise that he would struggle on those pitches. He never played another Test, and finished with a bowling average of 21.50 from two matches.

Martin Bicknell: A Test debut against a rampant Australian team at Headingley in 1993 wasn't the ideal start to Martin Bicknell's Test career, and he toiled 50 overs to return figures of 1 for 155. After playing one more Test, Bicknell was consigned to the outer for ten years before making a surprise comeback against South Africa at Headingley, again. By now, his miserly, wicket-to-wicket style had fetched plenty of county success, and though he only managed four wickets at Leeds - in the same game where Kabir Ali, another one chosen for these conditions, debuted - he starred in the next Test, taking 6 for 155 in a matchwinning performance, which also turned out to be his last Test appearance.

Mike Smith: One of the best exponents of swing bowling in the county circuit in the 1990s, Mike Smith was preferred to Andrew Caddick for the Ashes Test at Leeds in 1997. As it turned out, the move wasn't an inspired one, as Smith finished with unflattering figures of none for 89 off 23 overs in his only Test innings. Australia amassed 501 and went on to win by an innings, and Smith was left to ruminate over what might have happened to his career and the match had Graham Thorpe latched on to a relatively simple slip catch off Matthew Elliott - who went on to score 199 - when he had just 29 against his name.

Kabir Ali: Kabir Ali was one of the fresh faces England turned to in the summer of 2003 after suffering their eighth successive Ashes defeat the previous winter. He was picked for his ability to bowl long and consistent spells, and in the fourth Test of the series against South Africa, he had a dream start, picking up Neil McKenzie with his fifth delivery in Test cricket as South Africa slumped to 21 for 4. What followed, though, was an extraordinary recovery - led by Gary Kirsten's 130 - and a famous victory for South Africa. Though Kabir finished with respectable match figures of 5 for 136 - including the scalp of Kirsten in both innings - and played 14 ODIs, he didn't break into the Test team again.

Martin Saggers: Seven months after making his Test debut against Bangladesh in Chittagong, Martin Saggers returned to the England team in the summer of 2004 to play New Zealand at Headingley. When he nailed Mark Richardson with his first ball of the match, the move seemed a brilliant one. However, he only took one more wicket in the match, and played just one more Test - the next one of the series at Trent Bridge - before fading into oblivion.

Ryan Sidebottom: He finished wicketless on his Test debut against Pakistan in 2001, but six years on Ryan Sidebottom found himself back in the England line-up for the Headingley Test against West Indies. His left-arm swing proved lethal against a less-than-imposing batting line-up: four-fors in each innings consigned West Indies to a crushing defeat, as most of the batsmen struggled against the delivery which swung back into the right-hander. As it turned out, that proved to be the start of Sidebottom's second coming into Test cricket: in 17 Tests he has taken 73 wickets at an impressive average of 25.27.

S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo

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S Rajesh Stats editor Every week the Numbers Game takes a look at the story behind the stats, with an original slant on facts and figures. The column is edited by S Rajesh, ESPNcricinfo's stats editor in Bangalore. He did an MBA in marketing, and then worked for a year in advertising, before deciding to chuck it in favour of a job which would combine the pleasures of watching cricket and writing about it. The intense office cricket matches were an added bonus.
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