Second Test Match


One of the most soulless Test matches of recent history came to life only briefly, the final sessions of the penultimate day hinting mischievously at the chance of an England victory. Greatbatch, a stocky, combative left-hander who was making his début for New Zealand, scorned such a prospect by batting throughout the last day for an admirable, unbeaten century. A match marked by three individual innings of intense stamina, by poor crowds, contentious umpiring and a bland pitch, ended with the New Zealand captain, Jeff Crowe, losing his job after a run of low scores. Wright was promoted for the final Test at Wellington.

England made two changes from the side that played in the first Test, Athey and DeFreitas giving way to Fairbrother and Radford. With Jones and, crucially, Hadlee unfit, New Zealand brought in Greatbatch and Rutherford, two young batsmen. Their decision to play only four specialist bowler revealed premeditated negative thinking, but as it transpired, neither side's attack was equipped to overcome the somnolent pitch. Dilley, for England, and Chatfield, for New Zealand, bowled tirelessly and to great effect.

At the end of a slow opening day, New Zealand had mustered only 186 for three after being put in by an optimistic Gatting. Wright, having edged the first ball of the match between wicket-keeper and first slip at catchable height, was 101 not out; Dilley's figures were one for 34 from sixteen overs. Much was to alter early the following day. Wright was out in the second over and no-one else threatened a long stay. Dilley took four for 26 in a splendid spell and New Zealand were all out in mid-afternoon.

England navigated to the close for the loss of Broad, who once again showed displeasure at an umpiring decision. On the third day they needed to score quickly against New Zealand's weak attack to maintain hope of victory. But after a promising morning they fell away badly against the persevering Chatfield, who bowled a remarkable spell of 8-7-2-2 with the second new ball. Moxon, overcoming early problems, was caught at slip 1 run short of a well-merited first Test century, having batted for just over five and threequarter hours, and England closed at 302 for eight with the game in no-man's-land. Their eventual lead of 22 was easily seen off by the New Zealand openers, who profited from dropped catches to put on 117. A draw seemed inevitable now, but England suddenly initiated a collapse. Three wickets went for 2 runs, and when Martin Crowe, to a dubious lbw decision, and Rutherford also fell, New Zealand at stumps were only 132 ahead with five wickets in hand.

Next day, Greatbatch suffocated the fleeting excitement with an innings of great application. All three of his partners played significant roles, and the game ended with England fielding three substitutes for footsore bowlers while Fairbrother and Moxon completed the formalities. Fewer than 25,000 people watched the match, an indication of the fading interest in the tour.

Close of play: First day, New Zealand, 186-3 (J. G. Wright 101*, M. J. Greatbatch 5*); Second day, England 97-1 (M. D. Moxon 42*, R. T. Robinson 37*); Third day, England 302-8 (J. E. Emburey 40*, N. V. Radford 5*); Fourth day, New Zealand 154-5 (M. J. Greatbatch 6*, M. C. Snedden 0*).

© John Wisden & Co