Third Test Match


At Wellington, March 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. Drawn. When rain washed out the last two days of this match, it was in most eyes a fitting end to a series which had failed to capture the imagination. The draw extended England's sorry sequence to thirteen Tests without a victory, equalling their record. Once New Zealand had won the toss and entrenched themselves on a pitch bare of grass - and almost bare of hope for the bowlers - there was never a chance that they would end the run here. Dilley, England's most effective bowler in this series, broke down on the first day, a knee injury ruling him out for the remainder of the match. If this was not enough of a handicap, England added some self-inflicted wounds by dropping crucial catches. Crowe, missed on 6, went on to score 143 from 333 balls, including fourteen fours; Rutherford, dropped on 1, made an unbeaten 107 from 181 balls; and Bracewell, put down when 5 and 23, added insult to injury with 54. Even England's ground-fielding, one of their consistently strong suits, deserted them.

There were certain extenuating circumstances. Dilley's injury left them with only two specialist seamers, of whom DeFreitas, surprisingly recalled in place of Jarvis, justified selection by conceding only 110 runs in 50.1 overs, delivered without a single lapse into the over-stepping which had plagued him. And as the Second and Third Tests were played back to back, with only two days between, England found themselves fielding for four consecutive match days.

On the first day, New Zealand's scoring-rate rarely exceeded 2 runs per over. Wright batted 44 overs for his 36 and, although Vance played a perky innings in his first Test, Crowe was in no mood to sacrifice his last chance to make a mark on the series. He gathered pace only as his century approached, shortly before lunch on the second day. When he reached it, with a pull for four against Hemmings, he had made a hundred in each of his last six Test series. His only regret, a rueful one, was in getting out to Gatting, who put himself on a last resort and struck second ball. The fourth-wicket stand of 155 between Crowe and Greatbatch was a New Zealand record against England. After both were out in the afternoon session, the most fluent batting of the series was launched on a glorious evening in the most attractive on New Zealand's Test grounds. Rutherford, hitherto a frustration to New Zealand's selectors, played a sumptuous array of off-side shots in scoring 66 runs in the session. He closed on 91 and passed his maiden Test century early on the third morning with a typically delicate late-cut. His partnership of 134 with Bracewell for the sixth wicket was another New Zealand record against England.

Wright's declaration left New Zealand just 39 short of their record Test score against England. It also left England with no ambition other than survival. Broad and Moxon, with an opening stand of 129 in almost three hours, ensured that the critical early period was overcome, and in truth New Zealand's flimsy attack was never likely to dismiss any Test line-up twice. Moxon played another innings of admirable resolution and had made 81, in a little short of five hours, by the end of the third day. Sadly, the weather deprived him of the opportunity to complete his first Test century.

Close of Play: First day, New Zealand 192-3 (M. D. Crowe 57*, M. J. Greatbatch 34*); Second day, New Zealand 451-5 (K. R. Rutherford 91*, J. G. Bracewell 43*); Third day, England 183-2, (M. D. Moxon 81*, M. W. Gatting 33*); Fourth day, No play.

© John Wisden & Co