First Test Match

New Zealand v England

Toss: England. Test debuts: New Zealand - S.L.Boock, J.G.Wright.

After 48 years and in the 48th Test between the two countries, New Zealand beat England for the first time.

Though England's form and fortune struck rock bottom in the crucial final innings, it was a great and deserved triumph for New Zealand and for Richard Hadlee, the fast bowling son of Walter Hadlee, the former Test captain and much-respected chairman of the NZ Cricket Council.

Success was all the sweeter, and more exciting, because of the remarkable turnaround of the match. At tea on the fourth day the air was loaded with foreboding for New Zealand; the portents were all for the pattern of history to continue.

Willis, supported by superb catching, had caused a collapse of nine for 41 in two hours and England, with time of no concern, had to score a moderate 137 to win.

Only two hours later, New Zealand gloom was transformed into joy as England, with Rose retired with a bruised right arm, tottered on the brink of defeat with eight down for 53. England, in turn, had been routed by Richard Hadlee and Collinge. The next morning, after a frustrating delay of forty minutes for rain, New Zealand took forty-nine minutes to complete a famous victory in an understandably emotional atmosphere. The crowd gathered in front of the pavilion and sang "For they are jolly good fellows", followed by three cheers.

Hadlee fittingly took the last two wickets. In the first innings he had four for 74, and in the second six for 26. Apart from one over by Dayle Hadlee, Richard Hadlee and Collinge bowled unchanged as England were dismissed for 64. England's previous lowest total against New Zealand was 181 at Christchurch in 1929-30 - the first series between the countries.

Without detracting in any way from the magnificence of Hadlee and Collinge, who took his 100th Test and 500th first-class wicket during the match - and twice dismissed the key batsman Boycott - it would be kind to draw a discreet veil over England's performance.

Both Hadlee and Collinge tore into the attack with hostility, skill, and speed on a pitch of uneven bounce, and England's response, once Boycott was bowled off his pads, was inept in the extreme.

In some ways it was a bizarre game with a gale-force wind blowing directly down the pitch on the first day, and changing direction several times during the next four playing days.

For Boycott it was a disheartening experience. On winning the toss he chose to bowl - a decision which was fully expected of either captain - and his gamble might have succeeded but for the resolve and skill of the Derbyshire left-hander, Wright, in his first Test.

Surviving a strong appeal for a catch at the wicket against Willis off the first ball of the game, Wright settled into a groove of brave and skilled defiance which had an important bearing on the result. Nothing disturbed him.

He waited forty-seven minutes for his first run, and ended the opening day of five hours forty minutes - there were two interruptions for rain and bad light - 55 not out. What New Zealand's fate might have been but for Wright was not difficult to imagine.

Though he was out next day without adding to his score, Wright had laid the foundation for his side's victory. Another vital contribution came from the former captain, Congdon, as he celebrated his 40th birthday. Only Wright and Congdon were able to cope with an attack in which Old excelled.

All but three of Old's overs on the first day were bowled into the teeth of the gale. During the afternoon he sent down eleven overs for only 13 runs, capturing a second wicket in the bargain, and added another seven overs after tea. His considerable feat of stamina led to figures of six for 54, his best in 35 Tests.

At one nine-over stage Old had four for 11. New Zealand lost four wickets for 5 runs - thanks to some acrobatic catching by Taylor - and the total was a disappointing 228 in 502 minutes.

It seemed nothing like large enough, particularly as Boycott, at his most obdurate, could not be budged. England, despite the departure of Miller - caught in two minds - in the last over, finished at 89 for two.

On the third day Boycott's hourly scoring was 10, 12, 6 (including a boundary), and 12. Congdon, used as a defensive ploy in the overs before the new ball was due in most Tests in the series, delivered seven successive maidens, and conceded only 7 runs in ten overs. When the new ball was taken after 67 overs, England were still 82 short of New Zealand's total and in the end they were led by 13 runs.

It was a trying innings for Boycott. Grit constantly got behind his contact lenses - in his own words, the wind crucified his eyes - and at 68 he was struck over his right eye attempting to hook Richard Hadlee. By then he had celebrated passing Sir Jack Hobbs's Test aggregate of 5,410 runs - when 61 - but when he was sixth out England dismally faded into nothing. Boycott batted for seven hours twenty-two minutes, faced 304 balls, and hit nine boundaries.

Wright and Anderson put on 54 for the first wicket and New Zealand were sitting comfortably until Willis found his rhythm and speed. In 31 balls he captured four for 14. With Botham in accurate support, Howarth, Congdon, Parker and Burgess were out in the course of 6 runs.

New Zealand went from 82 for one to 123, but the mood of resignation to defeat was magically transformed when Boycott, going for the drive, was bowled off the 12th ball. Bowling and catching were uplifted, and by the time the total was a paltry 18, Miller, Randall and Roope were dismissed; Rose was out of action. Despite a flurry by Botham, England at 53 for eight at the close were a beaten side and New Zealand's finest hour had arrived. They deserved the congratulations of the cricket world.

© John Wisden & Co