Third Test Match

New Zealand v England

The provision of an extra day was insufficient to achieve on outright result, and the match and the series ended in a draw.

An excellent pitch lasted to the end, and Howarth, who had been perilously close to being dropped after four batting failures, became the second New Zealand batsman to score a century in both innings. The first was Glenn Turner (unavailable for the series) whose two separate centuries were against Australia at Christchurch in 1974.

But for Howarth's painstaking application for eight hours thirty-five minutes in the first innings, England would have undoubtedly controlled the match, in which there were several interruptions for rain and bad light.

Only Burgess, wonderfully caught at cover point by Randall, and the free-hitting Edwards were able to offer long support to Howarth. After their catching in the second Test, and Randall's effort, it seemed as if England could hold anything put in the air. But during the afternoon session of the second day there were three lapses - a sudden and uncharacteristic decline in standards that cost England dear.

Howarth was dropped at slip when 74, by Botham off Lever, and Lever, normally the safest outfield catcher in a brilliant fielding side, dropped Howarth (89) and Edwards (35) at long leg off successive deliveries from Botham. Howarth and Edwards added 96 in two hours eighteen minutes for the sixth wicket.

To their credit, Botham and Lever did not allow their mistakes to upset a long spell of determined bowling. They completed twenty successive overs between them, and shared eight wickets in all; Botham five for 109.

New Zealand's 315 was not regarded as a safe total by any means, particularly as Boycott and Randall hit 30 off seven overs before the close. The fact that four days remained might have served as a temptation to be over-cautious in building up a winning lead, but such tactics did not pay. England took thirteen hours twenty-six minutes to reach 429 and so gain a modest advantage of 114.

Nonetheless, there was legitimate excuse for batsmen on the third day as play was often interrupted by bad light and showers. No fewer than 47 overs were needed to make 100 runs, yet for all that, with Radley settling into a marathon innings in the Boycott mould, England began the second half of the match in the promising position of 172 for two.

Boycott, using an open stance to the left-arm over-the-wicket Collinge, fell to him for the fourth time in five innings. The other dismissal was a run out.

Radley and Roope, who drove freely, extended their stand to 139 in four and a quarter hours, and, despite Gatting's failure, New Zealand's total was passed with only four wickets down. Radley's patience was rewarded with a century in eight hours seven minutes, one of the longest ever by an England batsman. He went on to 150 in six minutes under ten hours, hitting fifteen 4s. In no way could he be faulted for concentration, resolve, and single-minded purpose.

Botham, a shining exception to the general plod, served England's needs with an exciting 53 off 114 balls. Many of his nine boundaries came from thunderous drives, and his innings was a further example of his immense potential.

His badly-needed wicket gave Collinge a New Zealand Test record, passing Bruce Taylor's aggregate of 111. Boock, the slow left-arm bowler, who finished off England with three for 2 from his last nineteen deliveries, also broke a long-standing record for the highest number of wickets in a New Zealand season.

England were without Boycott on the last two days, which began with a lead of 75 with five wickets standing. He had scratched the cornea of his right eye and watched from behind dark glasses as his deputy, Willis, directed operations. Only 39 runs were squeezed from the remaining wickets in nearly two hours, with Radley adding four to his overnight 154. He batted 616 minutes, faced 500 balls, and hit fifteen 4s.

New Zealand were undaunted. Anderson needs little encouragement to attack, and the penultimate day ended with New Zealand only 4 behind with eight wickets in hand. They were safe by lunch on the final day, having taken 96 off 27 overs in two hours. The rate contrasted sharply with England's 39 off 20.1 overs a day earlier when they were in a position to force the issue.

England hoped their spinners, Edmonds and Miller, might crowd the batsmen into making errors to be snapped up by close-in fielders. They were quickly disillusioned. By lunch, Howarth and Congdon, 50 in sixty-six minutes, and Howarth and Edwards had steered New Zealand to safety.

With the pressure removed, Howarth, who had shown a new confidence after his first innings century, and Edwards hit 87. Edwards' flair for attack was shown with a six and nine 4s, and Howarth wrote his name into the record books with a second century in five and a quarter hours. His driving was particularly good.

Once Howarth's feat was celebrated, the Test lapsed into a relaxed finish with an entertaining over by Randall.

© John Wisden & Co