Third Test

NEW ZEALAND v ENGLAND 1991-92

Toss: England.

Given only two days of rest after the Second Test, England could not summon up the energy to make a clean sweep of the series, whereas New Zealand made their most co-ordinated effort. After dropping six more catches on the opening day, New Zealand's fielders improved considerably thereafter, Su'a supplied some fine stock bowling, and Wright and Jones shared a record second-wicket stand. But the match will be as much remembered for the cry of pain when Lawrence broke his left knee-cap in the final session, and the unseemly scuffle which followed when he was carried off on a stretcher. The match was also notable for being Botham's 100th Test. Not included in the original 12, he was brought in when Lewis and Pringle withdrew, the former having lost a fingernail, the latter with a back strain. Lawrence was therefore given his first Test abroad, and his misfortunes began when England chose to bat first, when the pitch was damp and as near as it ever came to being lively. By the second day it had became a slow, low turner, typical of the Basin Reserve, and both teams were content in the end to settle for a draw.

Yet by the 45th over of the opening day England had reached 159, and batting was almost too easy - too easy, at any rate, for England to maintain their concentration. Stewart put away the one bad ball an over, survived three pulled chances, and went on to his third century in five Tests since his recall the previous August; when 74 he reached 1,000 runs for England. Hick began a Test innings against spin for once, and looked the happier for it, driving Patel twice for six in his first five overs at the wicket. But the game suddenly shifted, and New Zealand at last came into their own. Su'a pegged England back by bowling 24 overs for 41 runs before the close, moving the ball around more than any other pace bowler in the match; Patel got the ball to turn, and pushed one through to bowl Hick when he stayed on his crease; even the catches started to stick. Reeve did little to prevent New Zealand regaining their confidence by taking 166 minutes over his runs. Botham, in his first innings of the tour, could not adjust to the slowness of the pitch, and England's last 90 runs took 51 overs.

The partnership of 241 between Wright and Jones broke the previous second-wicket record for New Zealand against all countries, the 210 made by Geoff Howarth and Jeff Crowe against West Indies at Kingston in 1984-85. But as it took six hours and 23 minutes, and 107 overs, it was more of a match-saving than match-winning stand. Wright, with his pulling, and Jones, with his cutting, did not allow Tufnell the stranglehold he had achieved at Christchurch, but Hick's occasional off-spin of full length was treated with immense respect. Only when 59 runs were scored off the first 12 overs of the second new ball were England pressed in the field. Wright's 12th Test century lasted 406 minutes in all, and Jones's sixth 465 minutes. Another record was that Tufnell's 71 overs surpassed Steve Boock's 70 against Pakistan in 1988-89 as the highest number of overs in a first-class innings in New Zealand. At one point Tufnell and Hick bowled together for 77 overs, or five hours.

Stewart was Man of the Match for adding 63 to his first-innings century. But when Botham mis-swept on the fifth morning, England were only 127 runs ahead with four wickets remaining. It was an irony that Russell should have helped Lamb to save the game with a century stand, hours before he was omitted from England's World Cup party for not being an adequate batsman. With nerveless certainty Lamb proceeded past 139 to his highest Test score, and the first of his 14 Test centuries to be made outside England or the West Indies. When he reserve-swept to backward point, England declared and left New Zealand 233 to win in a minimum 32 overs, and the target was never attempted.

It was in these closing stages, as Lawrence ran in to bowl the first ball of his third over, that the fast bowler's left knee buckled in delivery and he collapsed with an appalling scream. Still in pain, he was carried from the field on a stretcher and taken to Wellington Hospital, where the knee-cap - cleanly broken - was wired the following morning. While he was being carried to the England dressing-room, there was a scene in front of the pavilion when the England team manager, Micky Stewart, thought a 41-year-old TVNZ cameraman, Vaugham Scott, to be intrusive. A scuffle followed as Stewart tried to pull the cameraman away from Lawrence.

Man of the Match: A. J. Stewart.

Close of play: First day, England, 239-5 (D. A. Reeve 9*, D. V. Lawrence 0*); Second day, New Zealand 104-1 (J. G. Wright 44*, A. H. Jones 51*); Third day, New Zealand 340-6 (R. T. Latham 12*, C. L. Cairns 0*); Fourth day, England 171-3 (R. A. Smith 41*, A. J. Lamb 24*).

© John Wisden & Co
 
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