First Test Match

Zimbabwe v New Zealand

Toss: New Zealand. Test debuts: A. G. Huckle, G. J. Rennie; S. B. O'Connor.

This was almost the Happy Families Test. For the first time in Test cricket, three sets of brothers - the Flowers, Rennies and Strangs - played in the same team, while the twelfth man was Andy Whittall, cousin of Guy. It was Grant Flower who dominated the game, becoming the first player to score two hundreds in a Test for Zimbabwe. But Zimbabwe were thwarted on the brink of victory by a member of another cricketing dynasty: Chris Cairns, son of Lance, played a match-saving innings, drawing on reserves of patience few knew he possessed.

Zimbabwe were forced to bat first in humid conditions, and Grant Flower was promptly caught at second slip for nought off a no-ball, one of 24 that Davis produced in the match. Then he was scoreless for 40 minutes. But he broke free and began to play quite fluently: helped by minor contributions from Whittall and Paul Strong, he reached his third Test century in five and a half hours before becoming one of five victims for Cairns.

New Zealand's first four all began steadily, but only Fleming got beyond the twenties, and the leg-spinners, Paul Strang and Huckle, sliced through the tail to give Zimbabwe a 91-run lead. By the close of the third day, this had risen to 206 as the openers capitalised on wayward bowling, and they pressed on next day. Debutant Gavin Rennie scored 57, but Grant Flower pushed on: he reached his second century with a six over third man off Cairns, and his 151 included two other sixes and 12 fours.

On the fourth day, New Zealand chose to slow the game down. They dawdled in the field - for a while the same player was employed at fine leg at both ends - dropping the over-rate as low as ten per hour. Fleming took two catches in the second innings to add to his five in the first, gaining a share of two world records: most catches in a Test innings, and most in a Test match. Campbell unnecessarily batted on past tea, which may have cost his team victory.

Asked to score 403, New Zealand lost their fifth wicket straight after lunch on the last day, when the score was 122, but Cairns and, especially, Parore responded by going on the offensive. For a time, runs came in a flood. Eventually, though, Cairns, with support from the tail, knuckled down for the draw. Batting for 260 minutes, Cairns defied an increasingly excitable Zimbabwe team. Referee Siddath Wettimuny fined Huckle 30 per cent of his match fee, and imposed a suspended one-Test ban for intimidatory appealing.

Man of the Match: G. W. Flower.

Close of play: First day, Zimbabwe 205-4 (G. W. Flower 85*, D. L. Houghton 20*); Second day, New Zealand 91-3 (S. P. Fleming 20*, N. J. Astle 2*); Third day, Zimbabwe 115-0 (G. J. Rennie 45*, G. W. Flower 60*); Fourth day, New Zealand 64-2 (B. A. Pocock 30*, S. P. Fleming 0*).

© John Wisden & Co