England won with just over two hours to spare. This was a remarkable match in many ways. When New Zealand scored only 97 in their first innings their chance seemed hopeless, but they fought magnificently throughout the five days, especially when they had to get 479 for victory in the last fourteen hours. Their gallant captain, Bevan Congdon, despite more early disasters, resisted England for ten minutes short of seven hours while making the top score, 176. Pollard hit his first Test hundred and stayed with Congdon four and a half hours while the fifth wicket stand put on 177. Altogether Pollard batted seven and a quarter hours, but when these sporting New Zealanders were in sight of their first victory in 43 Tests against England the spoils were snatched away.
England, too, had their heroes. Outstanding was Greig, the South African born Sussex captain. He gave a superb all-round performance, with seven wickets and a masterly 139 out of a stand of 210 with Amiss in three and a quarter hours that really swung the game England's way after four second innings wickets had gone for only 24 runs. Tribute must also be paid to England's opening bowlers, Snow, three wickets in five balls during the New Zealand slump, and Arnold, a most willing worker.
Apart from some reservations about the pitch, perfect conditions prevailed throughout the five days with the sun shining powerfully. A week earlier rain had saturated the ground and with some moisture still in the sub-soil, a tufty type of pitch made the bounce of the ball unpredictable. At times, the atmosphere was humid and both teams possessed seam bowlers capable of exploiting these assets which lessened as the game progressed, but only the four centurions were masters with the bat.
This time, Illingworth on winning the toss decided to bat--he put in Australia here the previous year--and England received a sound start from Boycott (two hours thirty-seven minutes for 51) and Amiss, whose opening stand produced 92. Taylor caused the England batsmen such trouble that Roope occupied two and a half hours defending stoutly for 28, and until Knott arrived the New Zealand attack commanded the utmost respect, Dayle Hadlee sharing the honours with Taylor.
England, 216 for nine at the close of the first day, had to thank Gifford for giving staunch support to Knott. They added 59 before Knott, trying to complete his fifty, played on.
When New Zealand began their reply there was no indication of the disasters so near at hand. Snow and Arnold were both wayward in direction and twice Snow sent the ball so far beyond Knott on the leg side that eight byes accrued. The change came on Greig entering the attack, coupled with the smartness of Knott behind the stumps and Roope who held two fine catches at second slip. Total disintegration set in, Pollard being an unwilling onlooker. So New Zealand were routed for 97, the sixth time in Test matches in England that they had failed to manage three figures. Moreover, at 20, Extras was their highest scorer. Only twice previously in the whole history of Test cricket had this been the case.
The first instance occurred in the Triangular Tournament at Lord's in 1912 when Extras provided 17 of South Africa's total of 58. The other was at Edgbaston in 1924 when Tate and Gilligan demolished South Africa for 30. Not a single South African completed double figures, but Extras totted up 11.
England enjoyed a lead of 153, but now they began disastrously. Boycott, so often the cause of his partners being run out, suffered when Amiss declined to go for a second run with the consequence that both batsmen were at the same end. As Roope, Lewis and Fletcher all fell cheaply to pace and swing, four wickets were down for 24 when Greig proceeded to show that someone willing to use his reach and hit the ball could succeed on a pitch that was not nearly so difficult as everyone imagined.
Amiss had settled down confidently and England reached 72 for four at the close with Amiss 22 and Greig 33 in forty-five minutes. Next day Greig completed his hundred in two and a half hours off 178 balls and when eventually he was leg before to Collinge he had his sixteen fours in possibly the most attractive innings played for England since the days of Milburn and Dexter.
Amiss (twelve 4's) then turned to the attack with many quality drives and in all he stayed just over six hours before Illingworth declared. Collinge bowled splendidly for New Zealand, whose task of getting 479 for victory was the largest number by 75 runs ever made in the fourth innings to win a Test match.
At first it seemed they would never approach such a mammoth total. Glenn Turner, 1,000 runs before the end of May, again failed, as did Parker and Hastings, and Burgess left at 130. Congdon, who offered a difficult chance off Arnold to Fletcher at first slip when 39, played superbly and it seemed he would last to continue to battle on Tuesday but he was obviously tired when seventeen minutes before the close he was a trifle late with his stroke and fell to Arnold, easily England's best bowler. Congdon hit eighteen fours and at stumps New Zealand's score stood at 317 for five; Pollard 74, Wadsworth 3.
This pair defied the England bowlers next morning, but just before the luncheon interval, Roope held Wadsworth at second slip and from that moment the initiative slipped away from New Zealand. Pollard was seventh to leave with nine boundaries in his stubborn 116. The tail stayed only briefly as England went on to win somewhat unconvincingly.