First Test Match

ENGLAND v NEW ZEALAND 1950-51

A lifeless pitch which remained a bowler's heartbreak to the end of the last day was chiefly to blame for so much dreary cricket as this match produced. Except when given a bad ball, most batsmen found difficulty in making forcing strokes, especially hooks and cuts--the ball seldom rose to the top of the stumps--but as long as they were content to avoid risks they could feel reasonably secure. Even so, fortune favoured several New Zealand batsmen.

Only Sutcliffe, whose innings was at least the equal of any played against England on the tour, looked master of an attack in which Bedser bowled excellently without adequate reward. Sutcliffe made a number of classic drives and he hit cleanly to leg, but Wallace (four hours twenty minutes) and Hadlee seldom emerged from defence, and Reid, Mooney and Burtt were not convincing. By batting until tea-time on the second day, New Zealand virtually became immune from defeat, and when Hadlee declared England were left with little option but to try to copy this strategy.

So another batting crawl began. Compton, who took two hours and a half over 79, Brown and Bailey (in the second part of his innings) alone showed inclination to attack. Compton was more like his true self than in any Australian Test. This was his first 50 in seven Tests, the previous being against New Zealand in 1949.

Bailey batted so doggedly that he spent four hours and a half reaching 50, but in the next two hours he nearly trebled his score. In his first Test century he revealed supreme powers of concentration and, when the opportunity offered, he swept, hooked and cut firmly and with sure timing. Wright gave Bailey sound support in a ninth wicket stand of 117. England's innings lasted eleven hours fifty minutes. Moir bowled his leg-breaks and googlies much better than in the preceding match and deserved the best analysis.

Early in the England innings occurred an incident believed to be unique in Test cricket. Washbrook, when 13 and the total 27, was given out leg-before, but after Hadlee, the New Zealand captain, held a short consultation with the umpire he was recalled when on his way to the pavilion. Apparently Hadlee, who had stopped Washbrook on his way out, told the umpire that he felt certain Washbrook had hit the ball on to his pad. The ethics of this action caused considerable discussion.

© John Wisden & Co