Second Cornhill Test

ENGLAND v NEW ZEALAND

Norman Preston

At Nottingham, August 10, 11, 12, 14. England won by an innings and 119 runs with a day to spare, despite three hours being lost on Saturday. While everything seemed to go right for the victors, ill luck dogged the losers, particularly on the third morning when, after only two balls had been bowled by Botham, the umpires stopped play for bad light. Play thus having begun that day, the pitch remained exposed to the elements.

Although personal honours among the England team went to Botham, the 22-year-old Somerset all-rounder taking six for 34 and three for 59, a match aggregate of nine for 93, Boycott, after missing four Tests, returned to the scene of his triumph against Australia the previous year and hit another century. It was only his second against New Zealand, but his sixteenth in Tests. With Gooch, Radley, and Brearley each passing fifty and Gower getting 46, England built a mammoth total of 429.

Rain had fallen on nine successive days immediately prior to the match, yet the groundsman, Ron Allsopp, prepared a very good, if slow, pitch for the batsmen; he borrowed the Wimbledon green covers which did such good work in the previous Test at The Oval to protect the rest of the square. Apart from the bad light and the drizzle of Saturday, the weather remained fine with the sun shining brilliantly on Friday when the ground was almost filled to capacity.

Brearley's luck was in from the start. He won the toss, and with Boycott present and Gooch in impressive form, England received easily their best beginning of the summer with an opening stand of 111. With Radley as solid as ever, a stand of 129 followed this, and Gower was with Boycott when 300 appeared with only two wickets down.

For New Zealand, Hadlee, on his home county ground and inspired by his local admirers, maintained a hostile pace, sending down 44 overs for four wickets at a cost of 94 runs. At times the ball swung awkwardly and Boycott, when 2, should have gone in Hadlee's second over. He gave an easy chance to Howarth at third slip, the same spot where McCosker missed him the previous year. Twice Hadlee rapped Boycott on the pads, his appeals for lbw being turned down by umpire Spencer, and Boycott took three hours twenty minutes to reach his fifty. England were 252 for two at the end of the first day with Boycott 108 in six hours. He returned on Friday morning bent on a second hundred, but Hadlee bowled him two short balls. The first he hooked for his tenth boundary, and repeating the stroke next ball skied it back to the bowler, having spent six hours, fifty-five minutes for 131.

Now came Brearley, having demoted himself to number five after scores of 38, 2 and 0 against Pakistan and 2 and 11 at The Oval against New Zealand. He was really on trial and he took a long time to settle down. He saw Gower carelessly loft a ball to Cairns at mid-on, after which none of his partners except Taylor offered much resistance. Still, Brearley produced some well-timed cover drives and pulls until, having reached 50 in three hours, he was held off the youthful and enthusiastic Bracewell by Parker at first slip.

In the absence of Wright, laid low by a throat infection, the 21-year-old left-hander Edgar, in only his second Test, opened the New Zealand innings with Anderson. Ninety minutes remained of the second day, and all went well for an hour for New Zealand until Botham entered the attack with the score at 17. He soon had Edgar taken behind the wicket by Taylor and then removed Anderson, leg-before. Worse followed when Howarth, having made 7, ducked, turned his head, and was struck by a Botham bouncer that caused him to retire. Next, Parker fell to a brilliant catch by Taylor wide of the off stump and New Zealand were reduced to 35 for three by the close.

The third day began with those controversial two balls, after which play was held up until 3.15; and as the delay lasted more than one hour, cricket continued until 7.30. Now, Botham slightly reduced his pace and caused the ball to swing either way. Howarth, although a bit dizzy, returned and played exceedingly well, but Botham was irresistible, except when Congdon batted resolutely with Howarth and the pair put on 50 for the sixth wicket. Before falling to a superb low left-handed catch by Hendrick at second slip, Congdon had the satisfaction of passing John Reid's 3,431 which stood as the highest Test aggregate for New Zealand. The tail then folded up, leaving Howarth to take out his bat, and New Zealand followed on, wanting 309 to avert an innings defeat. There was time for one maiden over from Botham which Edgar played.

On Monday, two stupid runs outs illustrated New Zealand's continuous misfortune. First, Anderson attempted a single to mid-off and Gower swept across from cover, his under-arm throw hitting the only stump he could see. Later, at 127, Parker was third out when he slipped after being sent back by Edgar from the first ball after a brief stoppage for rain.

For four hours the upright Edgar defied England, and was well supported by Howarth and Parker. Then Botham enjoyed a successful spell and the last seven wickets crashed for 63 runs. Edmonds, four for 44, bowled his left-arm slows admirably.

Throughout the match England fielded magnificently. Not a catch was dropped and Taylor, with six victims, gave another fine display of wicket-keeping. Praise must also be given to Boock, the tall New Zealand left-arm spinner, who conceded only 29 runs from 28 overs for two wickets.

© John Wisden & Co