First Test


Toss: New Zealand. Test debuts: A. H. Shah; S. B. Doull, M. J. Haslam.

Zimbabwe and New Zealand's first Test match ended in a listless draw, with ten hours' play lost as a result of solid rain and inadequate covering. Unusually, the rain was greeted with delight by the spectators; Zimbabwe's terrible drought was a matter of far more concern than the cricket.

The weather wiped out the first morning before play began, making the Bulawayo Athletic Club Test cricket's 69th venue and giving English umpire Dickie Bird his record 49th Test. New Zealand, who gave caps to Doull and left-arm spinner Mark Haslam, chose to bat on a sluggish pitch, and brought up 100 in their 19th over, with Greatbatch striking a blistering fifty from 39 balls. Zimbabwe, already missing their strike bowler, Brandes, lost their veteran off-spinner, Traicos, for the rest of the day when he injured his back after bowling eight overs for only nine runs. It seemed plain that they were already playing for the draw. This aim was assisted by further delay on the second day, after water seeped under the covers, but the stocky Latham nevertheless proceeded to his maiden Test hundred.

With Zimbabwe reluctant to field in damp conditions on the third day an exasperated Crowe was forced to declare when play started in the afternoon and watch his opponents move haltingly to 54 for one from 41 overs by stumps. Off-spinner Patel, who had shared the new ball with Su'a, breathed some life into the fourth day, returning career-best Test figures of six for 113. Zimbabwe were bowled out for 219, 106 behind, with Andy Flower's 81 the only significant contribution.

In a desperate bid to give themselves some chance of victory New Zealand raced to 163 for one by the close. Greatbatch and Latham became the first New Zealand openers to share a century opening stand in each innings of a Test. Next morning Crowe declared, setting Zimbabwe a target of 329 from 73 overs, Zimbabwe made no attempt to respond, preferring to maintain their unbeaten record while Arnott scored his maiden Test century.

Close of play: First day, New Zealand 205-1 (R. T. Latham 86*, A. H. Jones 30*); Second day, New Zealand 325-3 (A. H. Jones 67*, K. R. Rutherford 7*); Third day, Zimbabwe 54-1 (K. J. Arnott 25*, M. G. Burmester O*); Fourth day, New Zealand 163-1 (M. J. Greatbatch 80*, A. H. Jones 31*).

© John Wisden & Co