Only Test


At Wellington, March 15, 16, 17, 18, 19. New Zealand won by nine wickets. Toss: Australia. After recent heavy rain, play did not begin until two o'clock on the first day. Border clearly thought that, while runs would come with difficulty, the pitch would not get better. He elected to bat, and that, for all the excitement of the later days, virtually decided Australia's fate. Although the pitch provided generous help for the seam bowlers that afternoon and, before the close, sufficient turn to interest the most innocuous tweaker, it did improve, grudgingly and marginally, over the next four days.

With the ball generally keeping low as well as seaming dangerously, the conditions demanded that the batsmen played forward. This the Australian failed to do, loitering about the crease as Morrison and Hadlee went enthusiastically about their business. The first four wickets went for 12, Morrison taking three for 8 in his first five overs. Jones and Waugh offered some resistance, and Waugh partnered Peter Taylor in a stand of 26 before Hadlee beat him with a ball which pitched on middle and leg and took the off bail. Taylor, one batsman who went forward, played stoutly, but Hadlee cleaned out the tail to finish with his 35th haul of five wickets in a Test innings, and his 1000th in first-class cricket. Australia's 110 was their second-lowest total against New Zealand.

New Zealand, 18 without loss overnight, had to wait until 3.30 p.m. before play got under way on the second day. Border set only two slips, but had two men in front of the bat on the off side, and two on the on side. Wright and Franklin, who played forward religiously, had a stern struggle to get the ball off the square. Wright, having hit his first ball for four, scored just 9 runs in the next two hours, but the opening partnership of 48 was invaluable. At the close New Zealand were 17 runs short, having added only 75 runs in the day's 45 overs. And so it was on the third day; 88 overs produced 166 runs. Australian bowling of particular accuracy, a pitch still offering plenty for the seamers, and antagonistic fields kept the New Zealanders' lead to 92. Wright, top scorer with 36, was there for 221 minutes, and Snedden, sent in at the end of the second day, remained on 6 for 94 minutes and finally was out for 23 scored in 179 minutes. That New Zealand were not further restricted was due to the cheerful last-wicket partnership of 31 between Bracewell and Morrison. Off-spinner Taylor had excellent figures, but his lack of flight mystified a number of observers. Bracewell, on the other hand, hinted that giving the ball air was justified when he bowled five maiden overs before the close and had the wicket of Boon.

The fourth day belonged to Peter Taylor, Border and Bracewell. As night-watchman, Taylor went well beyond his brief with an innings of 87, in 197 minutes, marked by splendid driving and a penchant for hitting over the top. He and Border added 103 for the fourth wicket to give Australia a lead of 102, but without any addition to the score Jones was given out to a questionable lbw decision. Waugh, looking dangerous with his fluent front-foot shots, tempted fate once too often and, at full stretch, played a ball from Hadlee to Greatbatch at cover. That was practically the end of Australia's resistance. Bracewell, with ample flight and spinning the ball sharply, took the last four wickets for 3 runs in nineteen balls. New Zealand wanted 178 to win, with every prospect of a nail-biting finish on the final day.

The Australians, basing their optimism particularly on Taylor, were confident of winning, but Franklin and Wright were equal to the demanding task. A lunch score of 70 for one was a sound platform from which to launch a victory bid, and after the break Wright and Jones added 34 in half an hour. First the New Zealand captain took to Taylor, whose occasional efforts at flight cost runs, and then he attacked Border, who had had the batsmen defending. Two fours and a six in one over took him to 99 and the game was over. Wright hit seventeen fours as well as the six, and his second fifty came from 74 balls; he had not played a better innings for New Zealand. Jones, who had taken 40 minutes to score his first run, was also assertive in the closing stages.

Man of the Match: J. G. Wright.

Close of play: First day, New Zealand 18-0 ( T. J. Franklin 12*, J. G. Wright 5*); Second day, New Zealand 93-3 ( M. C. Snedden 0*, M. J. Greatbatch 4*); Third day, Australia 57-2 ( G. R. Marsh 33*, P. L. Taylor 1*); Fourth day, New Zealand 4-0 ( T. J. Franklin 2*, J. G. Wright 1*).

© John Wisden & Co