June 27, 2011

Hadlee specials and others

In our run-up to the 2000th Test, we look at some of New Zealand's more memorable Tests, which include several firsts

v England, Lord's, 1931
On their first Test-playing tour of England, New Zealand did so well to draw their only scheduled international of the tour - reducing England to 190 for 7 at one stage, before they recovered to 454 - that two further Tests were hastily arranged. New Zealand's stars at Lord's were Stewie Dempster and Curly Page, who both scored centuries (Roger Blunt just missed out, with 96), while Ian Cromb made the early inroads with the ball. "From start to finish there was never a dull moment," enthused Wisden.

v Australia, Wellington, 1945-46
The first post-war Test makes gruesome reading for New Zealand fans: in the first match between the Tasman neighbours, Australia declared at 199... but won by an innings and 103, after humbling an overawed home side for just 42 and 54. Bill O'Reilly took 8 for 33 in what turned out to be his final Test, but it was a first appearance for Ray Lindwall and Keith Miller, among others, as the 1948 "Invincibles" began to take shape. The one-sided nature of this match is usually cited as the reason Australia declined to play another official Test against New Zealand for 28 years.

v West Indies, Auckland, 1955-56
New Zealand finally won a Test match, at the 45th attempt, after more than 26 years, when they overcame West Indies at Eden Park in March 1956. John Reid, New Zealand's long-suffering captain, made 84, and Harry Cave took eight wickets in the match - including 4 for 21 in the second innings, as the visitors slumped to 77 all out. Just one caveat - the Windies had already won the first three matches of the four-Test series, and so might have relaxed a little for this final game.

v Pakistan, Lahore, 1969-70
A testing tour that started in England and continued in India ended in Pakistan, where victory in this second Test gave New Zealand their first series win (unusually, away from home; they didn't manage to win one in New Zealand until 1979-80). New Zealand were in the box seat after bowling Pakistan out for 114 on the first day, but it was still a tense finish - needing only 82 in their second innings, they lost five wickets in getting there.

v Australia, Christchurch, 1973-74
Tests with Australia resumed with home-and-away series in 1973-74, and two thumping innings victories for the home side in Australia led some to suggest it should be another 28 years before the two played again. So New Zealand's victory in the second Test of the return series was a cathartic one, and it didn't matter overmuch that the Aussies bounced back to square the series in the next game. At Lancaster Park, Glenn Turner was the architect of New Zealand's victory, anchoring what might have been a ticklish chase of 228 with his second century of the match.

v West Indies, Dunedin, 1979-80
West Indies had just carried all before them in the first post-Packer Australian summer, but then embarked on a famously bad-tempered series in New Zealand. After Richard Hadlee took 11 wickets, New Zealand sneaked to victory in the first Test by just one wicket, a leg-bye squeaking them past their meagre target of 104. The remaining two Tests were drawn: amazingly, this was the first time New Zealand had won a Test series at home, 50 years after their first one.

v England, Headingley, 1983
Another first - New Zealand's first Test victory in England - and for once it owed little to Richard Hadlee, who went wicketless, as all 20 England wickets fell to bowlers whose surnames began with "C" (Lance Cairns 10, Ewen Chatfield six, Jeremy Coney four). Hadlee did chip in with the bat, though, his 75 boosting New Zealand's lead past 150. England won the series 3-1, though.

v Australia, Brisbane, 1985-86
Victory looked on the cards from early on, as Richard Hadlee cut down nine batsmen and caught the other one. Wisden summed up: "[He] demolished the Australian innings with one of the outstanding pieces of contemporary Test match bowling, having taken all eight by the time Australia were 175 for 8. He missed the chance of all ten wickets by taking a well-judged catch in the deep from Lawson to give [Vaughan] Brown his first wicket in Test cricket, whereupon Brown returned the favour by catching Holland." After John F Reid and Martin Crowe built up a big lead, Hadlee took six more. He finished with 33 wickets in the three Tests, which New Zealand won 2-1 for their first (and so far only) series victory in Australia.

v England, Trent Bridge, 1986
Richard Hadlee put on a great show at his home county ground, taking 6 for 80 as England were restricted to an under-par 256. He added 68; that and John Bracewell's only Test century boosted New Zealand to 413. Then four more wickets for "Paddles" left a modest target, which New Zealand reached when David Gower deliberately threw the last delivery of the match. This was the series in which Graham Gooch rather unwisely described the Hadlee-led bowling attack as "like the World XI at one end, and Ilford Second XI at the other". The Seconds had the last laugh, as draws in the first and third Tests gave New Zealand their first series victory in England.

v West Indies, Hamilton, 1999-2000
When West Indies were cruising at 276 for 0 late on the first day, you could have got long odds on a comfortable ew Zealand victory. But as Wisden reported: "From that seemingly impregnable position, they batted so poorly on a docile pitch that they managed only 186 more runs in the match for the loss of 20 wickets." Once Adrian Griffith (114) and Sherwin Campbell (170) were separated, no one else managed more than 24 and West Indies folded for 365. New Zealand took a narrow lead, then Chris Cairns (7 for 27) routed the visitors for 97 in their second innings.

v India, Hamilton, 2002-03
A juicy Seddon Park pitch served up a low-scoring thriller, in which New Zealand squeaked home by four wickets after neither side reached 100 in their first innings. The third day (the first was washed out) featured part of all four innings, only the second such instance in Test history, following the 2000 Lord's Test between England and West Indies. The highest individual score of the match was Rahul Dravid's 39, and at 105 for 5 chasing 160, New Zealand were wobbling... but Jacob Oram took his side home.

This is a selective list and not meant to be a comprehensive one of all the great Tests featuring New Zealand

Steven Lynch is the editor of the Wisden Guide to International Cricket 2011.