Third Cornhill Test


Terry Cooper

At Lord's, August 24, 25, 26, 28. England won by seven wickets. When the first two innings were completed, New Zealand held an advantage of 50 runs and stood an excellent chance of their first Test victory in England to match their opening win in games between the countries the previous February in Wellington. Batting had generally been a testing business and England would not have relished a target of around 250. But on Saturday evening England's new-ball pair, Willis and, especially, Botham, struck back so ferociously that the match was all over only five hours after New Zealand began their second innings. Bowlers dominated so thoroughly on this third day that only 151 runs were scored, 8 fewer than the 159 managed by England and Pakistan at Leeds in 1971, the previous lowest in England.

This collapse came when New Zealand lacked the cornerstone of their batting, for Howarth, who had toiled against the effects of influenza in making his first innings hundred, was forced to delay his appearance until after the weekend. He must have expected more of his colleagues to be with him, for New Zealand had strengthened their batting by replacing Edwards as wicket-keeper with Edgar, allowing Wright, who missed Nottingham, to return. Collinge took Cairns's place in the pace attack. England's batting was made marginally weaker by the omission of Miller and the award of a first cap to Emburey, but the quality of the spin bowling was probably improved.

New Zealand far exceeded their previous opening stands as Edgar gathered seven assured boundaries and eventually towed the almost runless Wright along in his wake. The inevitable Botham made the break at 65 in the first over of his second spell, and Emburey soon had the opportunity to demonstrate his skill, his fourth ball in Tests dipping into Edgar for a short-leg catch. This start recalled the spectacular débuts of Emburey's county colleagues - Edmonds and Selvey.

Parker helped Howarth stabilise the innings in the afternoon before an admirable stand between Howarth and Burgess gave New Zealand hopes of a match-winning score by lifting them to 247 for three. Burgess was on nought for twenty-two minutes, but thereafter his stroke-play was so decisive that he actually overtook Howarth in the 60s after giving him a 30-run start. However, Howarth was labouring in some distress, and after the day's play commented: "I could not sleep last night because of my illness and I concentrated on occupying the crease and not doing too much running about." During the partnership of 130 England's main bowlers were mastered and Brearley had recourse to Gooch's occasional swing bowling. He ought to have split the fourth-wicket pair, for he had both batsmen dropped, Howarth being missed twice off him on 45. Hendrick, Brearley, and Botham spilled the chances and, as Brearley also put down Howarth on the verge of his hundred off Emburey, it was a rare, error-ridden display by England's fielders.

New Zealand were aiming for the safe waters of 6.30 - just forty-three minutes away - when Botham ruined their prospects of a massive total. For the seventh time in the summer's Tests he took a wicket in the first over of a spell, beating Burgess for an lbw. He then removed Congdon through a gulley catch, and New Zealand cheers were slightly muted when Howarth reached his landmark five minutes before the close - of 280 for five - with his twelfth 4 after four and a quarter hours.

On the second morning Botham removed Anderson and Hadlee in his first fifteen balls. Howarth received loyal support from Collinge's straight bat, but Botham, working away for an hour and forty minutes, ended Howarth's courageous and skilful innings when it had lasted five hours forty minutes. His 123 was his highest in Tests and contained fourteen 4s. Regrettably, Botham was warned for bowling a bumper at Boock, a non-recognised batsman. Brearley assured umpire Bird that there would be no repetition.

When England began soon after lunch, Gooch was caught at short-leg second ball and Boycott and Radley were compelled to exercise considerable care and application as Hadlee, diligently backed by Collinge, bowled with demanding hostility. England had their reward for this graft in the final hour and fifty minutes when Gower and Radley added 109, 75 of these coming in the last hour. They played a succession of sumptuous strokes and ran with speed and enterprise in taking England to 175 for two at the end of the second day.

The stand was split early on Saturday, a vicious lifer from Hadlee ending Radley's hard work. Gower, though, remained for nearly another hour before being caught sweeping, and England's middle order were hopeful of compiling a useful lead when, immediately after lunch, New Zealand took the new ball at 242 for four. These hopes were crushed by another magnificent burst from Hadlee, who claimed three for 8 in his first 45 balls of the afternoon. The run-flow diminished to a trickle - only 9 coming in the first forty-five minutes after the interval, by which time Brearley had gone after another rehabilitating innings. Edgar took his second catch as his country's wicket-keeper when Botham mistimed a square cut, and England's last four could offer few strokes.

This was fine fast bowling, but the striking rate of Hadlee and his allies was surpassed by Botham and Willis in the hectic finale to the day which sent New Zealand sliding to 37 for seven in the last one and three-quarter hours. Botham swung the ball almost unplayably and Willis showed that the pitch had quickened remarkably since the start by making the ball lift frighteningly from what the players were describing frankly again as the ridge. Willis took four wickets, but as he disposed of two batsmen in vulnerable form and two night-watchmen in the last over, it was Botham's three for 18 in his first 8.4 overs that was the key to England's renewed command. He dismissed left-handers Wright and Edgar with in-swinging yorkers and Parker with a lifter. It was a truly inspired move by Brearley to give him the new ball.

Taking stock over the weekend, New Zealand must have aspired to another 60 to 100 runs from Burgess, Howarth, now recovered, Hadlee and Collinge. But hope was not enough against Botham, who swung his eleventh ball of the day away from Burgess for a slick slip catch by Hendrick. Howarth played with great composure, but twice backed the wrong choice in the eternal dilemma batsmen face when joined by players from down the order. He and Hadlee agreed on a run, but Botham, following through, ran out Hadlee by three yards. Then Howarth left Collinge to face Botham, who bowled him. So Botham again finished with five wickets, the eighth time in his 21 Test innings that he has earned five or more. New Zealand had lasted just fifty-five minutes on the Bank Holiday and only two hours forty minutes for their total of 67.

Wanting 118, England were given a nasty shock when Hadlee blasted through Boycott and Radley with successive, identical balls that came slanting in at an exceptional pace to hit the stumps. Gower eliminated thoughts of panic by producing his customary dazzling strokes against the inaccurate Collinge, whom he pulled for 6, and was only 4 from his half-century when he mistimed a shot off Bracewell. This made England 84 for three, but, provided Brearley settled in, the game was all over. The captain survived a nasty crack on the wrist from Hadlee, and the match finished with a no-ball by the same bowler shortly before 3.30.

This was England's second clean-sweep over New Zealand in a twin-tour series- 1965 was the first occasion - and a remarkable feature was that all the wins were completed within four days' playing time. This match, though, differed from all the previous five of the season in being played throughout in fine weather with no interruption for rain. The umpires had been given light meters by the TCCB - solely to decide whether conditions had improved or not during a bad-light break - but had no opportunity to prove the merits of the device.

Howarth received the Man of the Match award and Taylor was named Man of the Series. The paying attendance was 55,334 and receipts totalled £142,549.

© John Wisden & Co