Third Test Match


At Auckland, February 10, 11, 12, 14, 15. Drawn. On a lifeless pitch, New Zealand comfortably achieved the draw they needed to beat England for the first time in a Test series. Willis's third misfortune with the toss deprived England of their most likely means of putting New Zealand under pressure with a large first-innings score, though as the pitch performed a result might have been hard to reach in eight days, far less the five available. More than four hours were lost to rain and bad light at various stages, but it was more an indictment of the turgid surface than of lack of penetration of the two attacks that only nineteen wickets fell. It was a poor advertisement for Test cricket, the more to be lamented in a country whose spectators had already show a preference for one-day cricket.

After the early loss of Edgar, who fell to a ball that came sharply in with Willis's arm from round the wicket, Wright stabilised New Zealand's innings with his first hundred against England - a stylish, conscientious effort lasting 387 minutes. He gave one chance, at 65, when Willis touched but could not hold a mistimed straight-drive at shoulder height. England had hopes at 111 for three, but having survived two close calls before he had scored, Jeff Crowe helped Wright add a record 154 and put New Zealand out of danger. Crowe went on to complete his maiden Test hundred, batting 384 minutes in all, and wicket-keeper Smith followed his example, rounding off a four-hour stay with two on-drives for 6 before the declaration.

After eleven and a half hours in the field, England had nothing to play for but a draw. Fowler fell to the first ball of the innings, but Smith, who replaced Tavaré from the side beaten at Christchurch, set about the task with such single-mindedness that it was not until the 180th over that England saved the follow-on. Smith batted through 137 of them (459 minutes) before he fell to Cairns, and his 91 consumed 396 deliveries, of which 346 were scoreless.

Lamb (205 minutes) and Randall (342 minutes) were no less stubborn, helping Smith to add 95 and 91 for the third and fourth wickets respectively. Botham was on course for the fifth hundred of the match when, after batting 131 minutes, he was stranded a long way down the pitch by Foster's determined rejection of what should have been a hard-run single. England's only consolation from a frustrating match was that they kept New Zealand in the field for 90 minutes longer than they had been themselves.

© John Wisden & Co