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'It was as if we had dialled 0800-GOD'

Danny Morrison recalls New Zealand's series-levelling win over Australia in Auckland in 1993. Their next Test win against the same opponent came 18 years later

As told to Siddhartha Talya

December 24, 2011

Comments: 8 | Text size: A | A

John Wright has been the common element in New Zealand's last two memorable wins against their Trans-Tasman rivals. Their win against Australia in 1993 in Auckland was Wright's last, and 18 years later, when he had taken over as New Zealand coach, they clinched a thrilling victory in Hobart by seven runs to repeat the feat, levelling the series again. Former New Zealand fast bowler Danny Morrison played a prominent role in the 1993 match, and he recalls that famous victory.


Danny Morrison in delivery stride, Australia v New Zealand, Adelaide, November 1993
Danny Morrison picked up six in the first innings and was joint Man of the Match with Ken Rutherford © Getty Images
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To do it for Wright
We hadn't played Australia [in a Test] since 1990, the end of the Richard Hadlee era. And so many good players from that wonderful 1980s era had finished. But we were quite positive.

Allan Border was just shy of 10,000 Test runs in the series before, against West Indies. It was the one time Border came close to beating West Indies in his whole career. But Australia lost in Adelaide [by one run].

We have traditionally been slow starters to a series. The Aussies were determined to do well and we lost the first Test, in Christchurch. Border celebrated becoming the record-holder for the most runs in Test history with a big cake.

We then went to Wellington for a rain-affected Test, where Martin Crowe played pretty well. I finally got a bag of wickets - grabbed seven. It was nice to get some consistency in our performance ahead of the Auckland Test.

A lot of us played for the Auckland first-class side, and it was a great opportunity to try and come back from a 0-1 deficit. If we did, we would retain the Trans-Tasman Trophy. We had won the last Test match in 1990, when John Wright was the skipper. He got 117 to win the game in the fourth innings for us, and it was Hadlee's last Test match at home.

So three years had passed since we came up against the big Aussies. It was also Wright's last Test match, so it was another reason for the players to want to do well.

"He'd given us some cloud, the big guy"
There is a phrase well coined by the great Ian Chappell, that if you win the toss, nine times out of 10 you'll bat first. And the tenth time you'll think about it, but you'll still bat first. So it was no surprise that Border chose to bat. But we were happy to bowl because we had to be positive and try to put Australia under pressure.

The overhead conditions were cloudy, so it was almost as if we picked up the phone and dialed 0800-GOD. He'd given us some cloud, the big guy. The conditions were ideal for swing and seam bowling. I picked up six wickets in that first innings; picked up my 100th Test wicket as well.

There was no doubt that their fast bowlers - Merv Hughes, Craig McDermott and Paul Reiffel - were more aggressive. But luckily for us, we were playing in home conditions. Murphy Su'a bowled left-arm swing, and Willie [Watson] and I complemented each other well. Willie was more in the Ewen Chatfield mould, just dragging it around with the seam and a little bit of swing, and Su'a had the ability to bring it back into the right-handers and move it away from the left-handers.

We tried not to get carried away by overhead conditions, and I cut down my pace a bit. I was trying to just be in the Richard Hadlee-type mould: bowl wicket-to-wicket, bowl close to the umpire, and try to just get it in the corridor of uncertainty. And it worked nicely. We caught well, especially in the slips cordon. A lot of catches used to be shelled there in my time, and to take ten wickets we often needed to take 14 or 15.

A man named Shane
Australia had a couple of young guys. Justin Langer and Damien Martyn were playing very early on in their careers. Shane Warne was just starting out as well. They had a couple of experienced guys in Border and Steve Waugh. I remember Mark Waugh got left out of the Test match.

The great thing for Shane was that he was gradually getting into a bit of a groove and gaining in confidence before that fantastic Ashes series that wasn't far away, where he bowled Mike Gatting with that ball. Just the pace that he bowled with against us - he got a lovely drift towards the right-handers, and got it to spin, of course, and that sort of delivery was so difficult to handle. I remember our guys saying that this guy looks a class act for the future.

Bring on the spinner
We opened the bowling with Dipak Patel in the second innings. A lot of decisions around the game lend themselves to some superstition, and we said to ourselves before we went on to bowl in the second innings: "Let's try something different, something out of the box." So Martin Crowe and Warren Lees, who was the coach at the time, decided to try something different and I liked the idea. Certainly it had worked when we played Australia in the opening game at Auckland in the 1992 World Cup. Thirteen months later, same venue, same opposition; the difference, of course, was this was a Test match.

 
 
"The Hadlee era had finished. We used to call him Superman. It was quite neat to win a Test match without the services of Superman"
 

Mark Taylor was stumped early in his innings. It was the batsmen having to adjust to something different. Dipak got five wickets in the second innings [and Australia were bowled out for 285, after New Zealand had gained an 85-run lead].

The wicket had begun to dry up and was taking a little spin and he bowled confidently with the new ball, and just started to set the cat among the pigeons a little in the Aussie camp, and they were a little nervous.

Rutherford steers
We weren't chasing a massive total, but when you look at the modern game, over the last 30 years… since Headingley 1981, when the Aussies got bowled out chasing not much in the fourth innings… I think it would have been a different kettle of fish to chase down that score, say, four years later, with Warne being more experienced and more confident and being the bowler he was going to be. In March 1993, he was still probably a year away from hitting his straps as a phenomenal bowler in Test cricket.

We lost five wickets in the chase, but at Eden Park, the track can flatten out a little bit. It became a little easier to bat on and we knew the conditions.

Hughes and McDermott were quick and a good combination, and Reiffel was a good swing and seam bowler, and slippery in New Zealand conditions. So 270 to 280 would have been more than enough for Australia to defend, but Ken Rutherford guided us well in the chase and he and I shared the Man-of-the-Match award.

Goodbye, Johnny
It felt like John Wright was an old bull retiring. He'd been such a wonderful servant for New Zealand cricket.

He was laughing at the end of the Test because he was given out run-out - among the first guys to be given out run-out by the use of technology in terms of the pan cameras. He got this little picture - it almost felt like he was getting a traffic ticket, a citation given to him that he was run out in his last innings.

There were massive celebrations. Wrighty was shaking a bottle of champagne in the New Zealand dressing room. It was a fabulous sendoff; it was nice for him to win his last Test match, against Australia. They'd given him a bit of heartache at times in his career.

We had a youngish side that was starting to mature, with a couple of old guns going out. It was lovely to beat Australia and be part of another Test match win because we hadn't beaten them that regularly. The Hadlee era had finished. We used to call him Superman. It was quite neat, in a way, to win a Test match without the services of Superman.

Siddhartha Talya is a sub editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by LillianThomson on (December 24, 2011, 23:20 GMT)

1993-2011 is all about Warne and McGrath. It was just a freak period in cricket history, when you consider that New Zealand beat England and India and South Africa several times in that period, as well as winning two highly suspicious Tests against Pakistan. As for Gary Fraser, you may be biased being from Dunedin, but Glenn Turner did awful things to NZ cricket in the 90s. These were still the days of big nights out, and he basically threw Chris Cairns and Adam Parore overboard for non-cricketing reasons after the Board had driven Ken Rutherford out. The 95 tour of the West Indies and 96 World Cup were part of that sordid period. In the late 90s they should have been able to field 1) Astle 2) Twose 3) McMillan 4) Rutherford 5) Fleming 6) Cairns 7) Parore 8) Nash 9) Vettori 10) Doull 11) Morrison. That would have been a really strong team!

Posted by 4test90 on (December 24, 2011, 20:43 GMT)

1993 - 2011, that's how long it took for NZ to beat us - poor old Vettori missed the Hobart Test and now will likely not play in a winning team vs Aust !!

Posted by Yolk_Eater on (December 24, 2011, 17:17 GMT)

Sachin's fan(atic) is here too... well i am just his fan, not a fanatic

Posted by   on (December 24, 2011, 16:39 GMT)

@Lillianthomson - I never really recalled the players being "driven out" by a disciplinarien. Cairns and Nash were very injury prone. Parore was originally tried as a batsman against Sri Lanka if I recall rightly, and did not succeed, and there were always standing questions over his ability as a wicketkeeper.

Astle hadn't made it on to the scene at that point, although I remember watching him at Carisbrook playing against Otago for Canterbury, and saying to him after he'd batted that he'd make the New Zealand team soon, whereas he stopped, and gave me a personal autograph (which I still have to this day).

New Zealand had several "good" players in the 1990's, however, until the arrival of Vettori, and the development of Fleming, none were really classed as "great" by NZ standards. Too many workhorses and not enough magicians, my father used to say.

However one point I agree with is Germon. He should have never been selected for New Zealand, much less as captain without experience.

Posted by   on (December 24, 2011, 9:37 GMT)

Seriously, Indians (and I am one) need to take it easy on mentioning Sachin in every damn comment of an article - even if it the article not related to the great man someone has to come up with his name!

Posted by xylo on (December 24, 2011, 7:31 GMT)

@Parth Patel: really? that was what you could come up with?

Posted by LillianThomson on (December 24, 2011, 6:57 GMT)

I remember contributing to Danny Morrison's testimonial in 1996, and telling him to get to 250 Test wickets - and he then promptly retired aged just 30, with 160 wickets. The mid-90s were a terrible time for New Zealand cricket - they had the potential to field their strongest ever team (Jones, Astle, Crowe, Rutherford, Parore, Cairns, Nash, Morrison + 2 others) but had a disciplinarian coach and basically threw out Rutherford, Parore and Cairns and drove Morrison into premature retirement too. When a journeyman like Lee Germon became captain at the expense of Parore's place in the side the elite players knew that they had no future and that New Zealand cricket was doomed. Cairns + Nash + Morrison was a potentially world-beating attack - and they never got onto the field together. Very sad. If Glenn Turner had coached Australia in 2000 he would presumably have replaced Warne, McGrath, Gilchrist and Ponting with journeymen like he did with NZ.

Posted by   on (December 24, 2011, 3:55 GMT)

I think that Phone Number reaches Sachin Tendulkar.

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