First Test Match

New Zealand v England

An accident to Ewen Chatfield, the New Zealand number eleven batsman, from what proved to be the very last ball of this match, cast an ugly shadow on all the splendid cricket that took place during the first four days. Chatfield narrowly escaped death on his Test début after he had deflected a bouncer from Lever into his face. It caused a hairline fracture of the skull from the blow that struck him on the left temple.

Bernard Thomas, the M.C.C. physiotherapist and John May, an ambulance man, rushed to the pitch and Mr. Thomas gave the stricken batsman heart massage and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation before Chatfield could be removed to the ambulance. Thomas said that Chatfield's heart had stopped beating for several seconds, adding: "It was the worst case I have seen and I never want to see another."

Lever left the field behind the stretcher weeping and would not be consoled, though his team mates tried to convince him that he was not to blame. That day he made two visits to the hospital to see Chatfield. The first time Chatfield was still unconscious, but he was much recovered when Lever returned and he assured the distraught Lever that the accident was his own fault.

Chatfield and Geoff Howarth, the New Zealand last pair, had raised the overnight stand of 21 to 44 in forty-five minutes by sound defence when the unhappy incident occurred.

New Zealand entered this match with high hopes of achieving their first Test win over England, but Denness won the toss and followed his 188 against Australia in his previous Test innings with another dazzling display that brought him 181 after Wood was out first ball. Wood had only arrived in New Zealand three days earlier after a 63-hour flight from West Indies.

With Amiss also failing, England began badly before Denness put on 117 for the third wicket with Edrich and 266 with Fletcher, a fourth wicket record for these matches between the two countries. It surpassed by 100 runs the stand by Barrington and Cowdrey on the same ground in 1962-63.

Altogether Denness, who was missed when 91 on the leg side off Chatfield by Wadsworth, batted five and a half hours and hit twenty-five boundaries, and Fletcher, whose 216 was his highest in Test cricket, stayed seven hours and hit twenty-nine fours. Staid at first, Fletcher displayed his skill with a fine range of stylish strokes.

In the last hour of the second day, New Zealand suffered a severe reverse when Turner was taken at leg slip in Arnold's first over, but next day Parker and Morrison fought back; Parker was 121 and still in command at the close when New Zealand were 285 for five.

Greig, varying his flight, pace and spin, took his 100th Test wicket when removing Geoff Howarth. Greig thus joined Wilfred Rhodes, Trevor Bailey and Ray Illingworth, the only England all-rounders to score 2,000 runs and take 100 wickets.

On the fourth day the pitch had bare patches and the ball turned with an uneven bounce that made Greig and Underwood most difficult. Consequently, England, despite being without Old, down with 'flu, obtained a complete mastery.

The remaining five New Zealand first innings wickets went down for the addition of 41 runs to the overnight score and although Morrison again batted well for another 58, Greig and Underwood brought about a second collapse which caused nine wickets to fall for 140. Then Geoff Howarth and Chatfield held out for the last half hour.

Greig finished with ten wickets for 149 and following a rest day England had the whole of the fifth day to finish the match which ended upon the unhappy accident that felled Chatfield.

Underwood became the fourth England bowler after F.S. Trueman, J.B. Statham and A.V. Bedser to take 200 wickets in Tests when he bowled B.E. Congdon in the second innings.

© John Wisden & Co
 
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