At Nottingham June 7, 8, 9, 11, 12. Drawn. Toss: New Zealand. Pre-series prognostication indicated general expectation of three high-scoring draws, given that batting strength on both sides appeared rather more solid than bowling, and pitches were to be hard and true. In the event, the weather proved the decisive factor in the First Test, curtailing play to a degree which made a positive result impossible and shifting the emphasis to seam bowling. More than two hours were lost on the first day when New Zealand scored 171 runs and lost five wickets. Only 23 minutes of play were possible on the second day, the tourists adding 18 runs for another wicket, and the innings was duly completed, a disappointing 208, before noon on Saturday.
The outstanding batting came from Martin Crowe, who hit five fours and a six in his 94-ball innings, which was of a higher class than anything else offered by New Zealand. Uncharacteristically, he was hitting across the line when he was bowled by DeFreitas. Although the conditions did not help England's fastest bowler, Malcolm, DeFreitas found them very much to his liking, and he bowled a consistently better line and length than on any previous occasion in his Test career. His reward as five wickets for 53 and the figures were well deserved. The one statistical curio was provided by Snedden, whose runless innings was spread over three days.
Hadlee received a warm and sentimental reception from the crowd when he emerged to play his last innings at Trent Bridge, his former county ground, but was unable to acknowledge it as he would have liked; he played on when trying to withdraw his bat before taking the wicket of the England captain, Gooch, with the first delivery of the innings - his 416th Test wicket, to which he added three more before England declared at 345 for nine on Tuesday afternoon.
In terms of England's Test future the most significant event of the match was Atherton's innings of 151, in his first appearance as an opening bat at that level of cricket. His admirable temperament was illustrated by the way he assumed heavy responsibilities after seeing his captain depart so abruptly, to be followed - after a dashing little knock from Stewart- by the vice-captain Lamb, who also failed to score.
There had been a certain inevitability about Atherton's progress, from his early days at Manchester Grammar School, through three years at Cambridge and late-summer appearances in the Lancashire side. His patience, concentration and selectivity of strokeplay were almost Boycott-like in his stay of 494 minutes, during which he faced 382 balls and struck sixteen boundaries. His choice as a partner to Gooch was to some extent forced upon the selectors by injury to Larkins, but it proved inspired. Together with the bonus of his leg-spin bowling (which Lancashire had not been afraid to use extensively in their earlier games) it provided the England Committee with a welcome number of new options.
In conditions which at one time or another helped swing and seam bowling. Hadlee showed that, even though his 39th birthday was less than a month away, he remained a dangerous practitioner with new ball or old. Snedden bowled with magnificent accuracy, Bracewell with more of a loop than most English spinners, and the slow left-arm débutant, Priest, with commendable economy to add to his sprightly fielding. Morrison alone would have been disappointed with his figures, probably the result of striving too hard on a pitch which suited him no better than it had Malcolm.
Man of the Match: M. A. Atherton. Attendance: 17,886; receipts £272,693.
Close of play: First day, New Zealand 171-5 ( M. W. Priest 23*, M. C. Sneddon 0*); Second day, New Zealand 189-6 ( M. C. Sneddon 0*, J. G. Bracewell 15*); Third day, England 4-1 ( M. A. Atherton 3*, A. J. Stewart 1*); Fourth day, England 187-5 ( M. A. Atherton 78*, R. S. Russell 4*).