First Test Match

England v New Zealand 1931

Upon their doings in their first Test match in this country, the New Zealanders will always be able to look back with feelings of great satisfaction. From start to finish there was never a dull moment and, apart from the fine cricket which took place, the varying fortunes of a memorable struggle invested the game with special interest. When at a quarter to four on the first afternoon New Zealand were all out for 224, it seemed quite certain that they had not made nearly enough runs. Yet before the day ended England had lost seven wickets for 190 and were still 34 runs behind. Anything might have happened then but Ames and Allen pulled the game round with a partnership which produced 246 runs in two hours and three quarters. New Zealand thus found themselves with the worst of the position and had to start their second innings no fewer than 230 runs behind. It was then that Dempster, Page and Blunt batted in wonderful style, the first two each enjoying the distinction of making a hundred, while Blunt fell only four runs short. Thus it came about that on the third day Lowry was able to declare and set England to get 240 runs in two hours and twenty minutes. Of these 146 were scored in quiet fashion for five wickets before stumps were pulled up.

Up to lunch time on the opening day, New Zealand, thanks to a very good innings by Dempster, had 132 runs on the board with only two men out but, later on, Peebles and Robins bowled with such startling effect that the last eight wickets went down in an hour and a half for another 92 runs. The first wicket produced 58 runs and the second 72 but no other stand was made, Peebles, who came out with a fine record, being master of the situation. When England went in Cromb bowled so well that four men were out for 62 but Woolley and Jardine nit up 67 runs together. Woolley batted magnificently. He was sometimes in trouble with the slow bowlers but otherwise gave a masterly exhibition of brilliant driving, his innings, which lasted eighty minutes, including eleven 4's. On the second day, England's last three wickets realised 264 runs in less than three hours, this fine recovery being almost entirely the work of Ames and Allen whose partnership was a record for the eighth wicket by England in Test matches. The bowling was not so good as on the first afternoon but each batsman reached his hundred without giving a chance. Allen actually made no mistake but Ames was let off twice late in his innings. Ames brought off many powerful drives and fine forcing strokes off his legs and Allen drove with power. All through this excellent stand the prominent figure feature was the manner in which neither man failed to punish anything in the shape of a loose ball. The partnership ended at 436. Ames hit two 6's and eighteen 4's and Allen one 6 and fourteen 4's. In the course of the innings an average of 82 runs an hour was maintained.

During the morning the King visited the ground, play being stopped while the cricketers of both teams were presented to his majesty.

When New Zealand went in a second time, Mills was bowled second ball but Weir helped in a stand which produced 99 runs and then Dempster and Page played out time, New Zealand being 69 behind with eight wickets to fall. During the day 425 runs were scored for the loss of five wickets, against seventeen wickets for 414 runs on the opening afternoon. On the last day, the game continued to fluctuate and at three o'clock the New Zealanders, with eight men out, were only 176 runs ahead. Then it was that some determined batting by Lowry and Allcott, who stayed together sixty minutes to add 63, once more altered the position. For the performances of Dempster, Page and Blunt too high praise could not be given. Dempster had played very well overnight when he was not out 86 and both he and Page produced just the cricket the circumstances demanded. Dempster, who was in for nearly four hours, obtained his runs by a nice variety of strokes while Page's hitting to leg was extraordinarily good. Altogether the stand realised 118 runs in ninety five minutes and the Blunt and Page added 142 in an hour and three quarters. Dempster hit ten 4's, Page, who batted three hours and twenty minutes, fifteen 4's and Blunt eight 4's, Blunt's batting being marked by great watchfulness. In England's last innings two men were out for 64 but Hammond shaped well. Cromb bowled with great pluck and determination for two hours off the reel.

© John Wisden & Co
 
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