Third Test Match

New Zealand v Australia

The three Test pitches for the series were rather like the three bears' porridge, chairs and beds: but the just right one was at Christchurch, and the strip at Eden Park Auckland, was as harshly criticised for its vices as was the Wellington one for being over-virtuous.

The watering of the pitch was apparently continued too late in its preparation and with autumn dew and an earlier start (10.30 a.m.) to counter failing light encountered at Auckland at this time of the year, it was wet when the Test began.

Eighteen wickets fell on the first day and only an outstandingly courageous century by Walters prevented further disasters. Batting was not physically dangerous. For a long time the ball jumped from a length two or three times an over, but it was a lazy lift and timing was very difficult. Australia lost five men for 64 in ninety-five minutes.

The luckless Stackpole was out first ball of the match, caught from an enormous full toss and when Redpath was in difficulties, Ian Chappell embarked on a policy of all-out assault.

Spectacular catching brought New Zealand swift success and Turner held a particularly good one to dismiss the Australian captain. Collinge bowled for the first hundred minutes, taking four for 32 in 10 overs, but Walters was in magnificent form. He was safe and correct, strong off backfoot or front, and he made the most of the New Zealanders' bowling lapses. In such helpful conditions, they lacked consistent direction and length.

Marsh, after lunch, hit merrily and he helped Walters to add 86 in seventy-four minutes. Walters went on calmly and beautifully to a century in two hours, thirty-six minutes. With typical Australian spirit, Walker and Mallett lingered long enough for the last two wickets to realise 59 and with the pitch inflating the value of the runs, it was a match-winning effort.

Against a fierce attack, Turner batted faultlessly. Walker was aggressive, Gilmour swung the ball late and sharply and New Zealand collapsed rapidly. Gilmour in a 12-over spell took five wickets and by the end of the first day New Zealand were on their knees at 85 for eight. Ian Chappell commented that evening that the pitch was not fit for Test cricket.

Australia went on next morning to a lead of 109 and although Stackpole made another duck, Redpath played an innings comparable in quality with that of Walters. Again it was counter-attack, 45 in the first six overs. Ian Chappell, Greg Chappell, Marsh and O'Keeffe all contributed to Australia's inexorable advance, but most credit went to Redpath, who became the seventh Australian to bat through a Test innings as he went to his 25th century.

He met the good periods of bowling ably, plundered it when it was loose, as it was in the first hour or two and so Australia raced to 100 in seventy minutes. Redpath batted five and three-quarter hours for his not out 159, and it was easily his most convincing performance of the series.

New Zealand needed 456, the figure the Australians had been left in Sydney, but the game ended eighty minutes short of three full days. There was little indication of its rapid end when Turner and Parker, both batting extremely well, put on 107. Turner was at his best and with lofted drives, cuts and straight drives attacked Mallett vigorously, taking eight 4's in three overs although there was turn and bounce.

Once they had been parted, Australia marched swiftly to victory. The pace bowlers had the ball moving about, jumping or keeping down from the many divots taken from the pitch and Walker at last earned commendable figures in keeping with his tremendous efforts during the series.

© John Wisden & Co