First Test Match

New Zealand v Australia

At Christchurch, February 18, 19, 20, 22, 23. Drawn. A splendid game held its interest until the final over.

Australia were sent in on a pitch which had life before lunch, but thereafter was of easy pace, with only an occasional ball doing anything odd. New Zealand had three wickets by lunch but did not bowl nearly accurately enough to take full advantage of their opportunity.

But Australia still struggled until tea - 208 for six. Then Walters, after some early mishaps, settled down to play a most assertive and attractive innings. Swift and sure in punishing the fairly frequent loose balls and sound in defence, he shared a stand of 217 with Gilmour, an Australian seventh-wicket record against all countries.

Gilmour gave an easy chance at 13, and had a few other narrow escapes, but drove powerfully to score his first Test century in a little over three hours. Walters, who hit two 6's and thirty 4's, batted six and a half hours for his 250, with strong, certain stroke-making. It was his best score in Tests. Altogether, Australia batted for nine hours.

New Zealand began well, Geoffrey Howarth batting fluently, but declined to 106 for three at stumps on the second day. The start of the third was delayed by rain, but an hour was added to the playing time at the end of the day. A similar arrangement held for the fourth day, after more rain.

New Zealand prospered for a while, Burgess batting most aggressively and Parker fighting hard. Although the pitch had little venom, Walker managed to get a few balls to rise; O'Keeffe bowled with admirable control, and there was a further recession which took New Zealand to 233 for seven.

Edwards, playing his first Test as a replacement for Coney, who was ill, helped to begin a revival. Hedley Howarth, batting with a style and certainty far above his station, was with Dayle Hadlee at close of play when the score was 324 for eight, and 29 still needed to avoid the follow-on.

Howarth was out next day at 338. This brought in Chatfield, the player who had all but lost his life when hit by a bouncer in his only previous Test, two years earlier and he and Hadlee hit off the runs required.

Better bowling kept the Australian second innings to a fairly modest scoring rate. McCosker, after a slow start, drove freely and Chappell declared to give New Zealand a target of 350 in six and a half hours. The score was 12 without loss at close of play. The New Zealand openers went on to 70, but they were both out at the same score.

Parker and Congdon added 58 in just over an hour of enterprising batting, and then Burgess joined Congdon in another pleasing and productive stand. By tea, they had taken the score to 203 for three - leaving 147 to be made from at least 27 overs, a formidable but by no means impossible task.

Some very good defensive bowling by Walker and Chappell pegged New Zealand back, and when Burgess went, trying to drive one too wide of him, New Zealand lost the initiative. The wickets fell rapidly, but Congdon, playing his one-hundredth Test innings, fought on.

He gave two chances at 79 and 85, but he was still there when the eighth wicket fell, with 11 of the final 15 overs to be bowled. Congdon proceeded slowly to his seventh Test century, made in four and a half hours, and again Dayle Hadlee saw his side through a crisis.

When Lillee bowled the last over, to Congdon, he had every fieldsman in a line from the wicket-keeper to a point position - a ploy repeated at Auckland, so that a picture would be provided for the cover of a new book by Chappell.

© John Wisden & Co