July 2, 2002

A tour that helped to start it all for New Zealand

Australian spin bowler and coach Peter Philpott was unwittingly in on the ground floor of the revival that has been behind New Zealand's advance in cricket.

Apart from all the coaching contribution he has made over the years, it was as a player in Les Favell's Australian team of 1966/67 that he witnessed the emergence of a core of players who would build up the level of expectation of New Zealand cricket.

Playing in a team that included: Norm O'Neill, Peter Burge, Brian Booth, Favell, Alan Connolly, John Gleeson, Barry Jarman, Paul Sheahan, Bob Bitmead and others, Philpott came up against the New Zealand side captained by Barry Sinclair that included, Graham Dowling, Terry Jarvis, Bevan Congdon, Vic Pollard, Keith Thomson, Bryan Yuile, Bruce Taylor, Dick Motz, Bob Cunis, Richard Collinge and Roy Harford.

The Australians lost an early game on the tour to Canterbury, and then lost the first 'Test' of the tour at New Plymouth.

Philpott, in Christchurch for a week of coaching at the High Performance Centre at Lincoln University, recalled the tour today.

"The cricket was grand. The biggest problem was the first-class wickets were not conducive to good cricket.

"But the talent was there and the New Zealand side was a very professional unit, and well balanced.

"The pitch at New Plymouth was a slow turner and that suited Vic Polllard to a T. He was a quick off-spinner who bowled very, very well. And he was very difficult to face on it. We had a good side, many of the guys were just finishing international play.

"Dick Motz was a good bowler, and Bryan Yuile while Bevan Congdon also batted well.

"It was ridiculous the tour wasn't regarded as an official Test tour," he said.

New Zealand won the 'series' which was rain-affected with the last three 'Tests' being drawn.

Philpott also recalled the introduction the players had to fast bowler Gary Bartlett in Palmerston North against Central Districts.

"We were just back from the West Indies and had been playing Wes Hall and Charlie Griffith, who was a chucker, and a couple of blokes had made a pledge that if they came across a true chucker they would not play in the interests of their families.

"Gary was very quick and with the best will in the world his action was doubtful, but Gary that day was very fast.

"There was a southerly gale blowing and we had 40 minutes or so to bat before stumps on the first day.

"Favelli was a great hooker, a fierce hooker but Gary undid him that day. He was just too quick. It opened everybody's eyes," Philpott said.

When fast bowlers are compared the difference between them was so minor it didn't matter and Bartlett was up there with them on that occasion, Philpott said.

"We always expected it would be a very competitive series with New Zealand. We were very impressed by their side," he said.