First Test Match


At Wellington, February 21, 22, 23, 24, 25. Drawn. The Australians started the series competently as Boon and Marsh continued their form of the final Test against India. Then they had partnerships of 217 and 57. This time they put on 104, showing scant regard for some wayward bowling. Ritchie and Matthews, each 55 not out, made it Australia's day by adding 119 runs for them to be 285 for four at the close.

Coney's decision to field, on winning the toss, must have come from force of habit. This was the nineteenth Test between the two countries; fourteen times the captain winning the toss had elected to bat second. New Zealand, winning the toss, had batted first only in 1946, and that may have caused Coney some misgivings. New Zealand on that occasion were out for 42 and 54.

Ritchie batted superbly, Matthews was all industry. They continued on the second day to score 213, an Australian fifth-wicket record against New Zealand, and at lunch Australia were firmly in command at 363 for four. At 97 Matthews offered a straightforward catch to Crowe off Hadlee, and he went on to make his hundred in 254 minutes and bat in all for 306 minutes. But the rest of the batting fell apart, the last five wickets adding only 56 runs. Hadlee, whose 61st Test appearance equaled the New Zealand record of B. E. Congdon, took his Test aggregate to 302 wickets.

After the loss of Franklin, the left-handers, Edgar and Reid, batted purposefully. Gillespie, playing in his first Test, came in as night-watchman with almost six overs to go and was to bat during three sessions of the game; in time for 114 minutes for almost an hour was lost on the third morning through appeals against the light. With New Zealand in danger of a large deficit, Coney batted with typical composure, while Rutherford, who had a Test aggregate of 12 runs in seven innings, a legacy of the West Indies tour, hit eleven 4s in their record sixth-wicket partnership of 109. Hadlee matched his captain in confidence, and when rain brought play to a halt at 12.18 p.m. on the fourth day, he and Coney had scored 100 in 110 minutes and added 132 for the seventh wicket, another New Zealand record against Australia. Coney reached his hundred, in 286 minutes from 191 balls, as the rain began to fall, and the match was not resumed.

© John Wisden & Co