Third Cornhill Test



Toss: New Zealand. Test debuts: England - N.G.B.Cook, N.A.Foster, C.L.Smith; New Zealand - E.J.Gray.

Three changes had been made to the team that lost at Headingley, the selectors introducing Smith of Hampshire and Foster of Essex for Fowler and Dilley, who were not fit, and later calling up the Leicestershire left-arm spinner, Cook, from a Championship game at Chelmsford when Edmonds ricked his back getting out of his car the day before the Test. It was the first time since 1959, in the first Test against India, that England had fielded three new players in a home Test. New Zealand gave a first cap to Gray, replacing Jeff Crowe, though it was not immediately clear whether he was in the side for his batting or his left-arm slow bowling. Howarth, who won the toss and gave England first use of a pitch that favoured the bowlers more as the game developed, bowled neither Gray nor the off-spinner, Bracewell, in England's first innings. Willis, conversely, had Cook on after nineteen overs of New Zealand's first innings.

A policy of inserting the opposition expects wickets before lunch, and with the last ball of his first over Hadlee provided that of the hapless Smith, lbw on the back leg to his first ball in Test cricket. A second wicket should have been Gower's. In consecutive overs, when 21 and 25, he was twice let off by Cairns: the first an easy chance from a mistimed hook off Crowe to square-leg, the ball hanging in the air for a long time; the second a flier off Chatfield through Cairns's left hand at third slip. Thereafter the morning was England's as Gower, graceful in the drive and assured on the leg side, and the patient Tavaré, picking up runs in the oft-vacated third-man area, laid the innings' foundations. Hadlee, controlled and hostile off his economical run, often beat the bat, but his fellow seam bowlers pitched too short to utilise the wicket's vagaries. Both batsmen reached 50 soon after lunch. Tavaré with the only boundary of his 206-minute innings. Gower's 228-minute 108, on the other hand, featured sixteen 4s. His dismissal to a ball that kept low, and Lamb's to one that lifted surprisingly, increased doubts about the pitch and put pressure on Gatting and Botham to ensure that England's position was not eroded. Botham never looked secure, but Gatting, after some uncertainty, flowered on his home ground, off-driving handsomely with a full follow-through and savagely despatching anything short to the boundary. His 50, off 73 balls, included nine 4s; his unbeaten 74 in England's first-day score of 279 for five was his highest in Test cricket and should have been taken to three figures next morning. Instead, hooking unwisely, he top-edged Hadlee to square-leg, so opening the tail for the New Zealand fast bowler.

New Zealand's innings owed everything to Edgar (238 minutes) and Crowe (116 minutes) and was undermined in the afternoon by Cook, intelligently employing the old-fashioned virtues of flight and spin. He was well supported by the keen England fielding. Brought back for his second spell at 5.25, when New Zealand were 158 for three, he removed the resolute Edgar with his third ball and with two later wickets in three balls reduced New Zealand to 176 for six by the close. First thing on Saturday he had Hadlee caught at slip with his arm ball to register five wickets in his first Test. The remainder of the innings fell to Botham, not straining for speed but getting movement and bounce.

When England batted again the large crowd, enjoying a sunny Lord's Test Saturday after several dismal years, sat nervously for nineteen minutes until Smith got off the mark with a working to fine-leg, a stroke with which they became familiar as his innings wore on. Gower, in full command of his talents, quickly outscored Smith, posting 33 of their 50 partnership, but walking forward to drive Gray he was marvellously caught by Crowe, diving forward to take one-handed a ball that had turned sufficiently to find the inside edge. Gray next removed Lamb with a beautiful delivery which floated into him, turned and jumped from the bat, and when he bowled the advancing Gatting the slow left-armer's figures since lunch were 15.3-4-29-3. Hadlee, too, restricted England's progress, so that when Botham joined Smith (35 not out) in the 50th over, England's lead of 254 still left New Zealand with a chance. Hadlee, in a splendid over, improved that chance with a brute of a ball which Smith, protecting his face, could only fend to slip. However, Botham, having picked up ones and twos with quiet assurance, began to unleash his powerful strokes, hitting seven 4s in his 61, and when he was caught at point shortly before the close of a finely contested day's play a satisfied crowd rose in appreciation of their favourite's return to form. England's 206 for seven at stumps meant a lead of 341, though when their last three wickets fell for only 5 more runs on Monday morning New Zealand's victory target allowed two minutes for every run.

A lunch score of 43 for two, however, showed the hopelessness of their task. In the fourth over Wright, after enjoying several long-hops from Botham, gave Taylor his 150th Test catch, and in the seventh Howarth, nursing a face injury from morning nets, nudged a rising ball from Willis to the wicket-keeper. In the afternoon Lamb, adding two catches to his four in the first innings, became the fifth player to share the England record of six catches in a Test match by a non-wicket-keeper, and Willis, Cowans and Cook worked their way methodically through the Kiwis' batting. Some lively hitting by Hadlee and Cairns brightened the closing stages, as well as tarnishing Cook's figures, while Coney held out for two and a half hours before becoming Foster's first wicket in Test cricket. At 5.13, Cook parried Chatfield's drive in the air and running back caught the ball right-handed to complete a memorable début and a comfortable victory for England with a day to spare.

The match was attended by 70,831 people, the receipts being £344,050.

© John Wisden & Co