First Cornhill Test



At The Oval, July 14, 15, 16, 17, 18. England won by 189 runs. England triumphed comprehensively, despite being bowled out for only 209 on a good pitch in their first innings and being jeered from the field after making only 194 runs from 98 overs in a whole day's play in their second. They succeeded, however, in putting the game out of reach of their opponents who, required to bat for some ten hours to save it, lost their last seven wickets for only 73 runs in 23 overs.

With Dilley unfit, England opted to play two spinners and omitted Foster, of Essex, who, with only sixteen first-class games and 55 wickets to his name, had been standing by. After winning the toss, England batted unevenly against bowlers who found the ball would swing on a cloudless but sultry first day, Hadlee finishing with six for 53 after an intelligent display of sustained accuracy and variations of pace. Randall, after much playing and missing at the start, was left unbeaten with 75.

Willis, however, then bowled with great life and hostility to remove Wright and Jeff Crowe without conceding a run. This pattern continued on the second morning when New Zealand were reduced to 41 for five (Willis four for 10 in twelve overs) before Hadlee and Coney added 84 together in only fifteen overs by making the most of the variable quality of England's second-line bowling.

Hadlee, driving powerfully off the front foot, took 16 runs from one over from Botham, whose first three overs cost 28, and with Coney batting sensibly it needed an athletic piece of fielding at mid-on by Willis, rounded off by a direct hit, to run out Coney. Hadlee had made 84 from 78 balls when Botham, finishing more happily than he had started, caught and bowled him.

England, helped by two escapes by Fowler before he had reached 50, then built on their slender lead in perfect conditions for batting. With Tavaré playing impressive strokes all round the wicket, the pair put on 223, only the eleventh double-century opening partnership in England's history. Fowler reached his maiden Test century, and Tavaré his second, the first time since 1960 that both England openers had made three figures in the same innings. Their dismissal, in quick succession, led to England losing the initiative on the third day against accurate bowling, thoughtfully handled by Howarth. After the crowd had vented their displeasure at that, only 5,600 turned up on the Sunday to see Lamb, struggling to recapture his form, complete an unbeaten 102 after five hours, the first time since 1974 that an England innings had contained three century-makers.

Willis's declaration asked New Zealand to make 460 for victory, a fourth-innings total exceeded only by England's 654 for five in the Durban timeless Test of 1939. The England captain, again bowling very fast, quickly reduced them to 26 for two, but Wright and Howarth added 120 for the third wicket, coping with the problems of spinners bowling into the rough and suggesting that the game might be saved if they could survive the pre-lunch session on the last day. Wright, however, was run out in only the seventh over after a stay of four hours and eventually Marks and Edmonds, operating virtually unchanged, worked their way through some modest batting, leaving New Zealand with the consolation only of the Man of the Match award, deservedly won by Hadlee. The total attendance was 34,043 and receipts £168,240.

© John Wisden & Co