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North happy to head to Headingley

AFP
Jul 19, 2010 at 09:24am IST

London: Australia's Marcus North is looking forward to returning to the scene of one of his greatest triumphs with the bat after turning in a stunning bowling display during the first Test against Pakistan.

Part-time bowler North took a career-best six wickets for 55 runs with his off-spin, after failing in his primary function as a batsman, as Australia beat Pakistan by 150 runs in the first of a two-Test series at Lord's on Friday.

The second and final Test starts at Headingley, Yorkshire's headquarters in Leeds, northern England, on Wednesday. It was at Headingley where the 30-year-old North scored one of his four Test hundreds as Australia levelled last year's Ashes, only to lose the subsequent series finale against England at The Oval.

North happy to head to Headingley

It was at Headingley where the 30-year-old North scored one of his four Test hundreds.

"I have got good memories of batting up at Headingley and hopefully I can contribute there with the bat instead of the ball," said the Western Australia left-handed middle-order batsman.

"I played at Leeds once and had that one hit," said North as he reflected on an innings of 110. "I have some nice memories up at Leeds and I am hoping to build on that this week."

Meanwhile North is still struggling to come to terms with his bowling display at Lord's, where he took a wicket with his first ball on Friday to have in-form Pakistan opener Salman Butt stumped for 92 and then didn't look back. His figures surpassed the best Lord's innings returns of such legendary Australia spinners as Clarrie Grimmett (six for 167), Arthur Mailey (four for 55), Shane Warne (four for 57) and Bill O'Reilly (four for 93).

"I probably don't feel like I deserve that," said North, who doubled his tally of Test wickets in the one innings on Friday.

"There have been some amazing bowlers over the years to have had some great bowling performances at Lord's.

"I certainly would like to have that six-for against England but it was a great occasion and to play at the home of cricket was fantastic," said North, who now has 12 wickets from 16 Tests.

He added: "I am probably as surprised as anyone. I didn't wake up expecting to get a bag of wickets but I have always enjoyed having the ball thrown to me and think I can play a role."

North's haul included Shahid Afridi, out slogging for two. Afterwards the dashing batsman announced his retirement from the five-day game and he has since been replaced as Pakistan's Test captain by Salman Butt.

"He has that X-factor about him," North said of Afridi. "I suppose I thought I was always in with a chance because he was going to counter-attack. Fortunately enough for me, it went straight to a fielder."

This series is being played in England because of security concerns in Pakistan caused by last year's armed attack on Sri Lanka's team bus in Lahore and North said: "I think it's great for world cricket to come over here.

"To have Pakistan playing Test cricket makes the game stronger. And what better place to play in the world than at Lord's?"

Pakistan were well supported when winning the two preceding Twenty20s against Australia at Edgbaston in Birmingham, central England, a city which, like Leeds, has a large Asian population.

North, asked if England could be a temporary home for Pakistan, replied: "It could well be. We saw a lot of support for them in the Twenty20s and there was some support for them at Lord's. No doubt some of the English wanted to see us lose as well.

"Wherever we can play Pakistan, in Australia or in a neutral venue, it is great for cricket."

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