First Test

Zimbabwe v New Zealand, 2005-06

Special Correspondent

At Harare, August 7, 8, 2005. New Zealand won by an innings and 294 runs. Toss: Zimbabwe. Test debut: N. R. Ferreira.

Zimbabwe's results had been disastrous since the 2004 player rebellion, but with several rebels back onside they hoped for a better showing. Instead, they suffered their heaviest Test defeat - having raised the bar twice against Sri Lanka 15 months earlier - after totalling 158, their lowest aggregate. They lost inside two days for the second time in three Tests, and became only the second team in Test history, after India at Old Trafford in 1952, to be dismissed twice in one day. All this after dominating the first two and a half hours.

Zimbabwe included former rebels Carlisle, Wishart and Neil Ferreira (making his debut), and Mahwire returned after working on his suspect bowling action. For New Zealand, Bond was playing his first international since May 2003, after persistent back trouble. He looked virtually restored to full fitness, unnerving batsmen with his pace and occasional movement.

But it was New Zealand's top order who struggled when Taibu put them in. The pitch was basically good, but there was swing and a little seam movement. Streak and Mahwire bowled superbly, and shortly after lunch the score was 113 for five. Fleming held things together with an invaluable 73, but the astonishing turnaround began when McCullum joined him.

Daring strokeplay brought McCullum's second Test century, 111 in 112 balls with 15 fours and a six. That was nothing, however, to Vettori's onslaught. Coming in straight after tea, he completed New Zealand's fastest Test hundred, off 82 balls, after a freakish escape on 67: he played a ball from Streak on to his wicket, and the leg bail flipped, only to land back on top of the stump at right angles, miraculously retaining its balance, which, under Law 28.1(b), does not constitute "complete removal". Apparently invulnerable, Vettori smashed 20 fours and two sixes before Streak finally bowled him for 127 off 98 balls. Even Bond hit three dynamic sixes. Zimbabwe's attack had long since been reduced to shreds, with Streak fighting a groin strain, and New Zealand's total of 452 for nine was their best for a single day's play, and the fifth-best by one team on an opening day in Test history.

It got worse for Zimbabwe, and they were soon 11 for four. Bond caused the alarm but not the damage: Franklin, swinging the ball in to the right-handers, took three wickets in four deliveries, the other being a no-ball. Zimbabwe have often struggled against the moving ball, but this was their worst-ever display. Only Taylor, cruelly run out backing up, by an accidental deflection off the bowler, and Carlisle resisted. They were all out for 59 four overs after lunch.

Following on, they did little better. Zimbabwe reached tea on 37 for two, but lost their last eight for 62 afterwards. The bowlers shared the wickets, and though Bond took just two, his opening spell in the second innings was 6-6-0-0.

The match ended when Mpofu became the third player to be stumped in both innings on the same day of a Test, after England's Bobby Peel at Sydney in 1894-95 and West Indies' Ivan Barrow at Brisbane in 1930-31. Like Peel, Mpofu made a pair. But if this was a Test, it was, for New Zealand, no test, and their biggest-ever victory held little meaning.

Man of the Match: D. L. Vettori.

© John Wisden & Co.