Richard John Hadlee
July 03, 1951, St Albans, Christchurch, Canterbury
Also Known As
Sir Richard Hadlee
Left hand bat
Right arm fast
Christchurch Boys' High School
Few players in the history of cricket have carried the fortunes of their team to quite the same extent as Richard Hadlee. By the time he retired from international cricket in 1990, at the age of 39 and with a knighthood newly conferred upon him for his services to the game, Hadlee had cemented his place as one of the great fast bowlers of all time, and lifted New Zealand to unprecedented feats in the Test arena.
As the first player to reach 400 Test wickets, Hadlee was always assured of immortality, but in addition to his matchless skills with the ball, he was also a hard-hitting batsman of unquestioned skill, and he is acknowledged as one of the four great allrounders of the 1980s, along with Ian Botham, Imran Khan and Kapil Dev.
One of five sons of Walter Hadlee, the former New Zealand captain, his cricket education began at an early age, and in 1971-72 he debuted for Canterbury, forming a penetrative new-ball partnership with his elder brother Dayle. In those days, however, Hadlee was a tearaway, placing speed far ahead of guile, an attitude that was matched by his unkempt, long-haired appearance. As his knowhow grew, however, so his run-up (and locks) shortened, and all the attributes of the model fast bowler fell into place. His lithe, whippy, side-on action made life uncomfortable for all the great batsmen of his era, as he extracted pace, bounce and movement from even the least responsive of surfaces.
His first great demolition job came in Wellington in February 1978 - five years on from his debut - when his 10 wickets, including 6 for 26 in the second innings, condemned England to a first defeat against the Kiwis. However, it was for the Australians that he preserved his finest efforts, and his 15-wicket haul in Brisbane in 1985-86 remains one of the most talked-of moments in Trans-Tasman rivalry. He needed just 79 matches to reach 400 wickets - a phenomenal strike-rate - and he was still very much at the top of his game when, in 1990, he bowed out against England at his adopted home of Trent Bridge - his second-innings haul of 5 for 53 included a wicket with his very last delivery.
After retirement he went on to to become an outspoken media pundit, and later the chairman of New Zealand's selectors. Andrew Miller
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