First Cornhill Test

ENGLAND v NEW ZEALAND 1994

John Etheridge

At Nottingham, June, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. England won by an innings and 90 runs. Toss: New Zealand. Test debuts: S. J. Rhodes, C. White; H. T. Davis, G. R. Larsen.

Ray Illingworth's first Test as chairman of England's selectors ended in a crushing victory before lunch on the final day. If the opposition was inexperienced and inadequate, there could be no denying the efficiency with which England swept aside New Zealand. Illingworth's controversial start in his new role was thus given instant vindication, with Gooch and DeFreitas making triumphant returns, while Atherton scored his third century in five Tests. New Zealand's successes were of the straw-clutching variety, although wicket-keeper Parore twice batted obdurately and his gloves were commendably adhesive: he conceded no byes in 174.4 overs.

Before taking the job, Illingworth had insisted on total autonomy as a prerequisite and thus had a mandate for a revolutionary, rather than evolutionary, approach. His new broom swept aside all but five of the England team who played in the final two Tests in the Caribbean in April, including the historic victory in Barbados. Admittedly, Caddick (with a shoulder injury), Lewis (side strain) and Tufnell (personal problems, including a pending court appearance) were ruled out, as was Gough, who also succumbed to a side strain after his encouraging debut in the Birmingham one-day international. Yet Illingworth's influence was blazingly clear. As soon as he took over, he talked about a more balanced, five-man attack. Consequently, he plucked White, born in Yorkshire but raised on an Australian sheep farm, from obscurity to fill the pivotal role at No. 6. White was Illingworth's choice - captain Atherton admitted he had scarcely seen him play - and Illingworth's alone. White's chances were limited, but he did hold two stinging catches, as well as dropping a straightforward one. With another Yorkshire player, left-arm spinner Stemp, an even more unexpected inclusion in the original 13 and Yorkshire-born Rhodes given his debut, some felt Illingworth was viewing affairs through White Rose-tinted spectacles. Stemp, along with Ilott of Essex, was omitted from the team.

Illingworth spent more than half the match in the dressing-room rather than the committee room. During the match, he removed the Rev. Andrew Wingfield Digby, the team's chaplain and spiritual adviser for the previous three years, from the TCCB budget. His explanation was typically forthright: If any of the players need a shoulder to cry on, they're not the men to go out and stuff the Aussies next winter. Mobile telephones and (briefly, anyway) sunglasses were also banned. Fortunately, humour was not: before play on the final morning, Stewart appeared on the players' balcony with a dog collar, wraparound shades and a cellphone held to his ear. Another historic development was the appearance of West Indian Steve Bucknor, the first overseas umpire to stand in an English Test.

The match itself was played under forbidding skies - amazingly, only ten overs were lost - and was too one-sided to be gripping. The New Zealanders' form had been mostly woeful and, for once, England were overwhelming favourites. The bookies were right and the public's indifference was reflected in crowds comfortably below capacity. From 108 for five on the first afternoon, New Zealand were on the back foot. Fleming, a tall and elegant left-hander, scored his second half-century in his second Test before falling to a diving catch in the gully by White, while Parore and Hart made useful runs down the order. But apart from them, New Zealand batted hopelessly on a slow, even pitch. Defreitas, playing his first Test for 12 months and representing his third county, Derbyshire, was the only bowler on either side to move the ball consistently. His away-swinger was in prime working order as he accounted for four of the top five.

With Morrison and Pringle unfit, New Zealand's five bowlers entered the match with just 14 Tests and 22 wickets between them. Heath Te-Ihi-O-Te-Rangi Davis's first ball in Test cricket went for four very wide wides down the leg side and Gavin Larsen, after 55 one-day internationals, finally made his debut in the five-day game. Against such a novice attack, on a decent surface, England - and especially the in-form Gooch - were almost guaranteed a huge score, and their eventual 567 was the highest total between these two teams in England.

Gooch, who had opted out of the West Indies tour, had to pledge his availability for the forthcoming trip to Australia before being picked. This he did, although his selection was by no means universally applauded. It meant the four young batsmen chosen by Atherton for the West Indian tour as the potential nucleus of England's middle order for years to come - Ramprakash, Thorpe, Maynard and Hussain - had all disappeared, and there was no place either for the highly rated Crawley. But it would have been hard for anyone to play better. Gooch's 210 was the second-highest of his 20 Test centuries. When he reached his 65th 50, he surpassed Boycott's England record of 64 and he finished the match with 1,135 runs against New Zealand, the most by an England player. Gooch was savage on anything short, of which there was plenty, and excelled with his favourite boom wide of mid-on. By comparison, Atherton's hundred was sedate, almost forgettable. The pair's partnership of 263 was their ninth century stand for England, of which seven have exceeded 150 and four 200. Smith scored 78 without looking convincing, Rhodes reached 49, including the only two sixes of the match, and Defreitas made his second Test half-century in his 51st innings.

New Zealand's second innings was a virtual carbon copy of their first. There was another fifty, from Young this time, and again Parore and Hart provided doughty, though ultimately vain, resistance. England claimed the extra half-hour on the fourth evening, but could not separate them and were kept waiting for 90 minutes on the final morning to complete victory. Defreitas reached 100 Test wickets when he dismissed Hartland and finished with five for 71, and nine for 165 in the match. Such, the next best bowler, wheeled away with canny variations of line and loop. The victory was totally overshadowed because, an hour's drive away in Birmingham, a chap called Lara scored 501 not out. Nevertheless, Illingworth pronounced himself delighted with England's performance and few could blame him.

Man of the Match: G. A. Gooch.

Attendance: 33,032; receipts £626,885.

Close of play: First day, New Zealand 236-8 (M. N. Hart 28*, D. J. Nash 13*); Second day, England 277-1 (M. A. Atherton 101*, G. A. Gooch 152*); Third day, England 516-6 (S. J. Rhodes 41*, P. A. J. DeFreitas 17*); Fourth day, New Zealand 184-7 (A. C. Parore 20*, M. N. Hart 15*).

© John Wisden & Co