At Basin Reserve, Wellington, March 21, 22, 23, 24, 25. Drawn. Toss: New Zealand.
Cricket shrivelled into insignificance at half past ten on the third morning, when news filtered through that Ben Hollioake, England's 24-year-old all-rounder, had been killed in a car crash in Western Australia. As the cricket community began to mourn the loss of one of its most gifted players, those on the field - as yet unaware of the tragedy - went about their business as normal. It was only at lunch, with England 199 for four in their first innings, that they heard the news. The New Zealand team and England's batsmen, Hussain and Ramprakash, emerged after the interval with black armbands. Flags were lowered to half-mast, and a reverent hush descended.
It would have taken a heart of steel to condemn England for slumping to 280. That evening, Hussain spoke with dignity and feeling about a friend who had been an integral part of the England dressing-room less than a month earlier, on this same tour. The Test, already blighted by a first-day washout, a curtailed second day and poor pitch covering, felt like an irrelevant sideshow.
But the sideshow had to go on and, after a minute's silence on the fourth morning, it did. England were understandably subdued, and New Zealand - just as understandably - took advantage. After 57 careful overs, Richardson and Vincent had taken them to 135 for one, a position from which they should have dictated terms.
Instead, it was England who took charge. On a pitch with little to offer the seamers, Caddick summoned up real fire, while Giles, aiming into the rough outside the right-hander's leg stump, found turn and bounce. Between them, they grabbed five wickets for 14 in nine overs as the shell-shocked New Zealanders careered to 149 for six. McMillan, left with the tail as he had been in the first innings at Christchurch, unleashed some feisty counter-blows, but the eventual collapse of nine for 83 in the equivalent of a session spoke volumes for England's spirit. Caddick, comfortably the best of the seamers, finished with six for 63, to go with his six for 122 in the previous innings. It was the first time an England bowler had taken consecutive six-fors since Ian Botham's six for 58 and seven for 48 at Bombay in 1979-80.
New Zealand's bowling attack had muddled through the first innings without the injured Cairns, but the cracks began to appear on the fourth evening as England went for quick runs. The three main seamers - Butler, Drum and Martin, Cairns's replacement - had just 13 previous Tests between them, while the spinner, Vettori, was troubled by a sore back. England showed no mercy. Vaughan and Trescothick opened with a chancy 79 before Vaughan top-edged a sweep to deep square leg. Then Trescothick at last demon-strated to the New Zealand crowd the havoc he could wreak, and Butcher joined in the fun with some spanking drives and cuts. By the close, England led by 246.
The final morning dawned slate-grey, but was lit up by some pyrotechnics from Flintoff. He came to the crease in the third over of the day after Butcher had picked out mid-off, and launched into a display of violence that scattered players and spectators alike. After Trescothick had swept high to short fine leg, Hussain happily played second fiddle as Flintoff powered his way to a 33-ball half-century. Only Botham (twice) had hit a Test fifty for England in fewer balls, though Allan Lamb had equalled it. A furious innings came to a tame end when Flintoff offered a simple return catch to Vettori, but his 75 off 44 balls, with nine fours and two sixes, enabled Hussain to hasten the declaration.
It left New Zealand needing 356 in 88 overs, but neither side came close to victory. Things might have been different if two key moments had gone England's way. Vincent, who had been reprieved by umpire Dunne on three in the first innings after edging Caddick to short leg via his pad, was given another early life by Dunne when he squeezed Giles, again off bat and pad, to silly point. Vincent had four at the time and went on to a match-saving 71. The decision was typical of a game in which the umpires frequently resembled waxwork dummies.
England could have no complaints about what followed, however. Fleming, on one, nicked Flintoff to Foster who - for the third time in the match - put down a chance diving to his left. Fleming proceeded to grind out an utterly tedious 11 in 142 minutes, one of the slowest Test innings of all time. Vincent and Fleming eventually fell within four overs of one another as Hoggard began to find reverse swing, but Astle and McMillan played out the final hour with ease. It was an anticlimactic end to a Test that never quite emerged from beneath the clouds.
Man of the Match: A. R. Caddick.