Mark Gordon Burgess
July 17, 1944, Auckland
Right hand bat
Right arm offbreak
Mark Burgess was a top-order batsman who played 50 Tests for New Zealand and who captained them between 1978 and 1980 in the period as they were beginning to become an international force. Christopher Martin-Jenkins described him as "a fair-haired right-hander with a sound technique and some handsome attacking strokes, especially adept at driving … he was popular with both his own team and his opponents, essentially a dedicated amateur cricketer in a professional age, his attitude was that winning or losing was not life or death".
He made his Test debut against India in 1967-68 - at that stage he had yet to score a first-class hundred - and retained his place for most of the next six seasons with impressive performances. He struggled in England in 1969 and aside from a hundred at Lord's in 1973 he never really enjoyed Tests there.
His most valuable hundred was probably the one he made in Pakistan in 1969-70 when New Zealand only needed to draw to secure their first overseas series victory. He made 59 and then with his team slipping to defeat hit a gritty 119 not out to save the match. It was the first of three hundreds in successive Tests, but such was the lack of international cricket for what was essentially and amateur side they spanned two-and-a-half years.
Before that Pakistan Test he helped New Zealand to their first win over India when he scored 89 and took 3 for 23 and 1 for 18 with his little-used offspin. At one stage his bowling seemed to hold promise and in 1970 Wisden said he "might become the principal off-spinner [but] needed much more work in this department". As it was, he was only to take two more Test wickets.
He lost his place - one Test against Australia aside - until 1976 and in 1978 he was picked as captain, his first match being New Zealand's historic defeat of England at Wellington, the only win he recorded in ten Tests in charge. He led his country at the 1979 World Cup when they reached the semi-finals.
But his trip to England in 1978 was a nightmare. He began with three fifties in the first three matches and then deteriorated so much that he reached fifty only twice more, once with a noble 68 in a memorable stand of 130 with Howarth in the final Test at Lord's. "A pleasant personality, Burgess never complained, but he must have been disappointed," Wisden concluded.
He retained his position for the 1980-81 tour of Australia when replaced as captain by Geoff Howarth and retired at the end of the series.
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