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New Zealand arrived for their twelfth tour of England with realistic hopes of winning their second successive Test series there. When they left, having lost the three-match series 1-0, there was a distinct feeling among their supporters that the side had played below their potential. Certainly, through no particular fault, the tour fell somewhat flat. In a summer as memorable for high temperatures as high scores, it was blighted at crucial stages by poor weather, and the succeeding tour by India, with its dazzling batting, did the New Zealanders no favours in comparison. Moreover, they came up against an England side with a significantly stiffer backbone than that of a year earlier.
The touring team, spearheaded by their amiable captain, John Wright, and their greatest player, Richard Hadlee, was one of considerable talent and vast experience, with, in addition to their traditional doughty fighters, a clutch of players selected with an eye to the future. Although losing the one-day fixture against MCC, they made a promising start. Inspired perhaps by an enterprising sponsorship of the eight three-day matches against the counties, their cricket was entertaining, even if at times it was, through necessity, contrived at the business end.
However, there was a school of thought which, with the benefit of hind-sight, held that the emphasis of the tour should have changed once the tourists were no longer eligible for the Tetley Challenge bonus for winning all the county matches. At least one senior player believed that, rather than continuing to play positive, spectator-pleasing cricket, the New Zealanders should have approached the remaining county games with the Test matches in mind. If that meant batting for the first day and a half of a three-day match, it was suggested, then so be it.
By the final Test, at Edgbaston early in July, the touring team had had wins over Worcestershire- on the liveliest pitch of the tour - Somerset, Sussex and Derbyshire, and had drawn with England twice, Middlesex, Warwickshire, Northamptonshire and Essex. Their one first-class defeat had been to the combined Oxford & Cambridge Universities - whose first win it was over a touring side - and they had shared the two-match one-day series, though failing on run-rate to win the Texaco Trophy. It was suggested by Wright that the success of the tour would be judged by the result of the final Test, for the Test matches are history's criteria. In the event England won, deservedly, by 114 runs after the New Zealand captain had erred badly by putting them in.
The Birmingham Test brought down the curtain on Hadlee's remarkable career. With his impeccable sense of occasion, he took his 431st and final wicket with his last ball in a Test. Although past his finest days, he showed he could still severely embarrass the world's top batsmen. Before the Lord's Test Hadlee had been awarded a knighthood for his services to the game, the first New Zealander so honoured, and if there was criticism of the timing of the announcement, there was precious little doubt about the worthiness of the recipient. Hadlee's knighthood also made the Lord's Test scorecard a unique modern-day sporting document.
Before the tour began, it was felt that run-scoring would not be a problem, but bowling out the opposition would. That suspicion was well founded, especially when the Test and County Cricket Board's edicts on the summer's pitches and the ball's seam were added to the equation. The New Zealanders simply did not have sufficient penetration. Even Sussex, destined to finish last in the 1990 County Championship, managed 570 runs against them for the loss of only six wickets. The most successful bowler was the experienced off-spinner, John Bracewell, who was making his third tour of England. He missed eight matches with a finger injury at the start but, always competitive, he finished with 34 first-class wickets, having, despite his absence, bowled the most overs. His four dismissals in the second innings at Birmingham gave him 102 Test wickets and, after he had passed 1,000 Test runs in the first innings, made him only the second New Zealander, after Hadlee, to complete such a double. By then he had also proved himself to be the world's best attacking off-spinner.
Martin Snedden, another to retire from international cricket at the end of the visit, bowled his nagging medium pace as well as ever for much of the tour. But the sustained aggression expected from Danny Morrison was seen all too infrequently. Nor did injuries help. Chris Pringle and the former Test player, Willie Watson, both just above medium pace, were called into the side from the Bradford and Northern Leagues respectively to cover during a time when the tour party had just one fit fast bowler, the gangling Jonathan Millmow. Misfortune eventually caught up with him at Northampton, with shin splints ending his first senior tour.
Although all the batsmen had their moments, only the tall opener, Trevor Franklin, was able to look back with any real satisfaction. Unspectacular but effective, he arrived in England as a batsman still trying to establish a regular Test place. He finished the tour having topped the Test and first-class aggregates, and only the England opening pair, Graham Gooch and Michael Atherton, bettered his average of 56.75 in the Tests. With Wright he set a New Zealand first-wicket record for Tests in England, putting on 185 at Lord's, and he went on to his maiden Test hundred. Wright, however, fell 2 runs short of his eleventh Test century, a personal disappointment on his final overseas tour. He scored fewer runs than he would have liked, but he proved himself to be perhaps New Zealand's most popular captain ever, even if his Test leadership tended towards a safety-first approach.
New Zealand's premier batsman, Martin Crowe, had a disappointing tour. Runmaking appeared to come all too easily in the county matches, but he passed 50 only once in the Tests. Mark Greatbatch's centuries in the one-day internationals, innings of clean, powerful strokeplay, were probably the finest of the tour. However, impetuosity was his downfall more than once, and he did not really do himself justice. Nor did Andrew Jones, another of whom much was expected. Jones did as well as anyone against the counties, but England found a technical weakness against the short ball and capitalised on it in the Tests. Ken Rutherford did not recover fully from a nasty blow above the left eyebrow in the second one-day international, while Jeff Crowe was always batting for a Test place.
Of the younger players, none did better than the wicket-keeper, Adam Parore, and the left-arm spinner, Mark Priest. Parore, aged nineteen, made his Test début at Edgbaston when injury ruled out the experienced Ian Smith, and although showing that some fine tuning of his glovework was needed, he revealed that he was a technically sound batsman of whom much more should be heard. Priest worked hard at his game, played in one Test and should have had a second chance. He struggled for wickets but fielded well and performed tidily with the bat.
Match reports for
Duchess of Norfolk's Invitation XI v New Zealanders at Arundel, May 6, 1990
Tour Match: Middlesex v New Zealanders at Lord's, May 19-21, 1990