First Test Match

ENGLAND v NEW ZEALAND 1949

L.S.

At Leeds, June 11, 13, 14. Drawn. By going into the match with only four recognised bowlers and, at the time, the strongest available batting combination, New Zealand obviously intended to avoid defeat and to go all out for victory only if weather conditions or an unexpected turn in the game gave them a possible chance. Their policy was confirmed during this and subsequent Test Matches, and, to their credit, they accomplished all they set out to do.

In limiting England, on a perfect pitch, to 307 runs in six hours on Saturday, New Zealand went a long way towards ensuring that they would not lose. Cowie, Cave, Burtt and Rabone, supported by fine fielding and accurate placing of the men by Hadlee, kept the England batsmen struggling for runs, but never looked likely to cause a breakdown. Cowie, who sent down 36 overs during long and accurate spells on the first day, was the only bowler who presented England with any serious problem. Burtt, the slow left-hander, sent down 33 overs on Saturday and 15 of them were maidens.

Hutton, from the purely technical standard, played a perfect innings for England, but he took over four hours to score 101, a rate of progress which suited the plans of the New Zealanders. A packed off-side field checked many of his best strokes, but whenever he decided to put his full power into the shot and follow through completely, he generally left the fieldsmen standing still as the ball flashed to the boundary. Most of his fourteen 4's came between point and mid-off.

The loss of Washbrook and Edrich for 92 runs was not an encouraging start for England, but Hutton and Compton checked all ideas of a collapse by putting on 102 for the third wicket. Compton also found all his best strokes restricted, and the fact that he took three hours thirty-five minutes to reach his hundred was eloquent testimony of the accurate New Zealand attack. Compton altogether took four hours over 114 and he hit thirteen 4's.

Hutton left at 214, and although Wharton, the left-hander, stayed some time, he did not impress in his First Test Match, showing a marked tendency to move across the line of the ball in order to force it away to leg. It came as no surprise when he missed a straight delivery and was l. b. w.. The long-awaited enterprise came when Mann joined Compton, and in three-quarters of an hour 59 runs were put on for the sixth wicket. Mann claimed 38 of the runs, all but ten coming from boundaries.

On Monday, England went all out for runs, but their efforts, on a pitch affected by early morning rain, were not as successful as they hoped. Five wickets fell for 65 runs, four of them to Burtt, who met with only one success on Saturday. The pitch remained awkward when New Zealand went in, and their early batsmen were troubled by the pace and lift of Bailey. With his eighth ball in Test cricket, Bailey dismissed Scott, but he owed much to the astute captaincy of Mann. The England leader moved Washbrook from cover to fourth slip in the middle of an over and the change brought instantaneous success, Scott edging the next ball straight into the hands of Washbrook. The following delivery should have accounted for Hadlee, but Edrich at first slip could not hold a sharp chance. As it happened, the mistake did not prove costly. Bailey, in a splendid spell just after lunch, dismissed Wallace and Hadlee, and at the fall of the fourth wicket at 80 the Essex fast bowler claimed three for 31.

That ended England's run of success, for in the next eighty minutes Donnelly and Smith, by delightful stroke play and quick running between the wickets, rescued New Zealand with a fifth stand of 120. The other England bowlers were unable to worry the batsmen, and it was left to Bailey to break this splendid partnership with a ball which kicked slightly and flew off Donnelly's bat into the hands of gulley. Donnelly batted faultlessly for an hour and a half.

Smith, who obtained most of his runs with wristy square cuts, just missed his first Test century, being caught at square leg after batting two hours for 96. New Zealand's ninth wicket fell at 284, but England found it extremely difficult to separate the last pair, Mooney and Cowie. They held out for the last half-hour on Monday, and next day, despite the fact that Cowie needed a runner because of a pulled leg muscle, they again defied England's attack. In an hour the tenth stand produced 57 and the England lead was restricted to 31.

With Cowie unable to take the field, New Zealand were limited to three recognised bowlers, and when England batted again Cave shared the new ball with Donnelly, a slow left-hander. England met with an early disaster when Hutton, after a remarkable run of big scores, was out second ball. Further trouble came when Washbrook pulled a muscle and called for a runner. Unable to make his normal strokes, Washbrook could not score at the pace needed to give England any chance of victory, but in a courageous display lasting three hours, his only mistake was a slip chance when 56. Edrich scored 70 out of 118 added in an hour and three-quarters for the second wicket, and after lunch 153 came in eighty minutes before Mann declared. Mann, hitting at practically every ball, scored 49, with the help of a 6 and nine 4's, in twenty-five minutes.

New Zealand, set to get 299 to win in two and a half hours, made a promising start and at one time it seemed as though they intended going for the runs. Gradually they fell behind the clock, however, and the last ninety minutes mattered little. Sutcliffe and Scott scored 112 for the opening stand, and in the last three-quarters of an hour, with the regular bowlers rested, Smith obtained a bright 50.

© John Wisden & Co