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When as Ashes Test saw a Vandalized Pitch

It was the first time on 19 August 1975, when an Ashes test match was abandoned due to a vandalized pitch. It was a rare occasion when a cricket match was impacted by some political reason.

Last updated: 19.08.2019
When as Ashes test saw a vandalized pitch | Sports Social Blog

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19th August 1975 was the day when an Ashes test match was abandoned due to a vandalized pitch. Just after the first cricket World Cup, the English board also arranged for a four-test Ashes series. Australia took a 1-0 lead after the first two test matches and teams met at Headingley for the third test.

England batted first and scored 288 runs. Once they took a lead of 153 runs they were on the driver’s seat. Australians were all out for just 135 in the first innings as Phill Edmonds took five wickets. England posted 291 in the second innings and set up a world record target of 445 for Australians in the second innings. Australia batted better in the second innings. The opener Rick McCosker held one end up and also got support from the captain Ian Chappell (62). Australia ended day four on 220/3 with McCosker five away from a century. Although England were in a strong position, the slow nature of the pitch meant that all the three results had some possibilities.

There was another issue building up on the side. It was about George Davis, a 34-year old minicab driver who had been sentenced for 20 years prison in 1974 for armed robbery. There was great support for him and protests were there to free him up. Some of those protestors decided to create more focus by disrupting the cricket pitch at Headingley in the night. 


Hence, when the groundsman George Cawthray came on the ground before the start of the match on day five, he found a portion of the pitch exposed and gallons of oil inside it. The players and other officials started to come and both the captains Tony Greig and Ian Chappell inspected the pitch and decided that it was not fit to continue the match. There were some more protestors outside the ground that morning. A potentially exciting finish could not happen due to all these issues. However, it was cloudy and rain started around mid-day and by Tea, the ground was so much affected that the match would have been abandoned anyway.

This remained one of the rare occasions when a cricket match was impacted by such a political reason.

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