The Joy of Six: Sporting Pitch Fiascos

  • 2016-08-09
  • The Guardian

From a vandalised wicket to mind-bending patterns at Flamengo v Mineiro via Murrayfield’s shapeshifting turf, half-a-dozen playing surface shambles.

1) England v Australia at Headingley, 1975

Some 45 years after football but 12 years before rugby union, the cricketing visionaries hit upon the idea of a World Cup. Naturally, it – and its second and third iterations – needed to be held in England, so in the summer of 1975, the various nations arrived and West Indies won.

England made it as far as the semi-finals, where they were beaten by Australia – who hung around for an impromptu four-Test Ashes series. Just a few months earlier, they had brutalised a Geoff Boycottless England to the tune of 4-1, with Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson at their petrifying peaks and supplementary needle supplied by Ian Chappell and Rodney Marsh.

It came as no great surprise when England were humped again in the first Test at Edgbaston, so for Lord’s they handed a debut to the 33-year-old David Steele. And, incredibly, it worked. His 50 stabilised England after a dodgy start, and they went on to have the better of a draw more famous for the artistry of Michael Angelow, whose streak added a new wrinkle to the phrase “middle stump”.