Ten Years back - Zimbabwe v New Zealand

First Test: Zimbabwe v New Zealand, at Bulawayo Athletic Club; 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 November 1992. NEW ZEALAND 325/3 dec (M J Greatbatch 87, R T Latham 119, A H Jones 67*) and 222/5 dec (M J Greatbatch 88; M P Jarvis 3/38). ZIMBABWE 219 (A Flower 81; D N Patel 6/113) and 197/1 (K J Arnott 101*). Match drawn.


The inaugural Test tour of Zimbabwe by India was immediately followed with a tour by New Zealand, who played two Tests and two one-day internationals, double the Indian ration. It was a strange mix of a tour, beginning in Bulawayo with a one-day international followed by a Test match, and then moving up to Harare for another Test match with a one-day international sandwiched in the middle of it. For the purpose of this series, we will look at the Test matches first and then return to the one-day internationals.

The Bulawayo Test match was very disappointing. The major Bulawayo ground, Queens Sports Club, had not been used for international matches for years and was standing almost derelict, while Matabeleland hosted matches at Bulawayo Athletic Club, a smaller, pleasant ground but without the facilities required of an international venue. It was only to be expected that Zimbabwe, starting out in Test cricket, did not yet have the money to develop their sporting arenas, but New Zealand captain Martin Crowe did not seem to realize this.

Crowe had recently taken over the captaincy of a New Zealand side that had probably been second only to the great West Indies team for much of the eighties, but now most of their top players had retired in quick succession, leaving Crowe with a young, inexperienced side that was struggling to hold its own. Reading of how Zimbabwe had dominated India in the Inaugural Test only days before his team arrived probably scared him with the thought that his side could go the same way, and even lose. This might in part explain his attitude on the tour, which left unpleasant memories for many who had to deal with him. This was in sharp contrast to the Indians, whose sporting attitude was well remembered.

It was ironic that the first serious rains in Bulawayo for many months should arrive just before the Test match - although many put it down to the presence of the renowned rain-making umpire Dickie Bird, who was standing in his 49th Test match, a new record. The covers proved totally inadequate and ten hours of play were lost overall, most of it on the first three days.

Dave Houghton: "We had a few days of brilliant sunshine when it was actually too wet to play cricket. That was a shame, because it ruined that Test match. It was a drawn affair, and we only played three days' cricket in the end. They played most of the cricket, although we did do some good things. It added a bit of bitterness between the sides because Martin Crowe was forever trying to encourage us to play positive cricket and make games of it."

Andy Pycroft: "Ali Shah came into that Test match; he should have been in the first one but was injured. Our attack consisted of `Jarvie', who was pretty military-medium but did swing it; Burmie, again no pace; Ali Shah, Gary Crocker, and a hell of a lot was left to Traics. But they bowled a better line and length than a lot of our bowlers do today; that says something. They bowled to a plan, which sounds negative, but if you don't have strike bowlers of note you bowl a width outside off stump and you stay there forever, and our guys did that, even when they were getting slogged. So that was a tidy performance."

New Zealand faced a Zimbabwe seam attack lacking the injured Eddo Brandes, and began with a dominating opening partnership of 116 by Mark Greatbatch, who reached 50 off just 39 balls, and Rod Latham. John Traicos also missed much of the first day with a back injury, a further handicap to the Zimbabwe bowling.

Dave Houghton: "Our bowlers struggled, and you've only got to look at the attack. Burmie, Ali Shah who played in this Test match, Traicos - so we didn't have any firepower at all. There was a flat wicket at BAC and they batted really well. They had a great opening partnership between Greatbatch and Rod Latham, and they dominated this Test match - if it hadn't been for the rain we'd have lost this one, that's for sure.

"It was the rebirth of Greatbatch's career; he had just come off that Australian World Cup where he rediscovered himself as an opening batsman who smashed the ball for miles. So we copped it in probably the best match of his career. They had a good batting line-up with Greatbatch, Andy Jones, Martin Crowe, Ken Rutherford, and Latham himself was a good player."

Mark Burmester: "It was a very flat track in Bulawayo, which was not to our liking. We dropped a lot of catches in their first innings, but unfortunately not Martin Crowe, who just managed to hit the ball out of the middle of the bat for the whole series. We dropped Greatbatch early on a couple of times and he smashed it back, but with the pitch in Bulawayo it was always going to be a draw. I think Martin Crowe actually put in his memoirs that the worst place where he ever played cricket, which is unfair to the Bulawayo guys; that was all they had."

Andy Pycroft: "There was rain from the start, and there were weather conditions whereby you knew that the Test match was going to be substantially shortened. Greatbatch went out there and just smashed us; it was absolutely unbelievable. If you had arrived just after the start and didn't know what form of cricket was being played, you would be excused for thinking it was a one-day game. He was hitting the quicks over their heads within the first couple of overs - in a Test match - and clearly their whole attitude was: shortened Test; we're going to press home and win this game."

"In the Test matches there was huge sledging," Andy Flower recalled. "There was a very boring draw in Bulawayo, where the facilities were very poor; the covering of the outfield, the square and the bowlers' run-ups was very ordinary. We'd had some rain, and the abiding memory is of Martin Crowe moaning and carrying on about `the worst ground in the world', I think he described it.

"But we had a very comfortable draw against them. Kevin Arnott scored a hundred, which was great to watch. I remember getting 81 in the first innings and didn't bat in the second, and again I had thought this was a great chance to get a hundred. But then the left-arm spinner Mark Haslam took a brilliant one-handed catch at square leg, and my hopes were dashed."

Ian Robinson: "That Test was badly affected by the rain, but even more affected by the lack of suitable covers. We had the silly situation where on day the water had got underneath one corner of the covers and also the bowlers' run-ups were very soggy because at that stage those weren't covered separately. So we had the situation of a brilliant hot day in Bulawayo, and we were standing around and not doing anything because the bowlers' run-ups were actually dangerous.

"It caused quite a bit of conversation and debate amongst the various parties concerned. At that time New Zealand were batting, and after two or three hours of standing around in the sun still saying that we couldn't play because the run-ups were too wet, the New Zealand captain Martin Crowe came out to the umpires and asked, `What would happen if we declared? We would then be fielding and we would be very happy to play in those conditions.'

"We had no option but to say to him, `That's fine.' We did point out to him that we still thought that the conditions were unfit and actually dangerous for the bowlers to run through, but he insisted, so we went out and played after that."

Ian says of his fellow umpire for that match, Dickie Bird, "You'll find, if you speak to umpires around the world, that he didn't enjoy making decisions about the conditions of the ground or weather and light, and tried to pass it on to somebody else - and that was actually what happened in the Bulawayo game.

"Their opening bowler was Simon Doull - `Doullie'. Doullie was bowling and running through this very soft ground, and it's no coincidence, I think, that at the end of that game he suffered a stress fracture of the back, went home and didn't play for a year and a half or two years because of that. The ground was so soggy that it was giving about five or six inches as the bowler ran up. It was a very unpleasant day."

Many Zimbabweans objected to the attitude of Martin Crowe, who complained constantly about the playing conditions, with many a derogatory comment about a country that was still trying to adjust to the promotion to Test cricket only three months earlier. One also mentioned that off the field his wife also had many complaints to make about the catering, seating and everything else.

Zimbabwe struggled with the bat, especially against the off-breaks of Patel, who opened the bowling.

Andy Pycroft: "They soon had us in trouble with the bat, and I can remember we had a tidy enough start from Grant Flower and Kevvie Arnott, but the moment they both fell quickly together, our middle order collapsed, including myself. Doull bowled well that day and I can remember being yorked. He got a ball to dip on me. If it hadn't been for Andy Flower and Ali Shah, to a certain extent, that innings would have folded very quickly. As it was, we got within 100 runs of their total."

Dave Houghton: "Maybe our attitude would have been different batting-wise. I think we felt the game was over when it finally restarted after the ground had dried out, but we didn't bat all that well. We batted slowly, which was one of Martin's biggest complaints about us: 94 overs to get 219. But I'm afraid that's all we had to offer."

New Zealand attacked in their second innings in an effort to force a result, but a sound century from Kevin Arnott, well supported by Grant Flower and then Alistair Campbell, saw Zimbabwe to safety without any panic.

Andy Pycroft: "Ironically in their second innings they batted less ambitiously than they did in the first innings, but we were still dominated completely. One got the impression that their declaration was too late, and I don't know why that happened, having played so positively in the first innings, but they just dragged it a bit and gave us an opportunity to bat our way out of it. Kevvie Arnott played one of those innings that he really could play: he stonewalled and Grant Flower and Alistair Campbell also batted very well. I can remember sitting again with pads on for most of the day, wondering am I going to bat or aren't I, and then I didn't have to bat."

Malcolm Jarvis: "I just remember in the second innings I took three wickets for 30-odd runs, and thought I bowled pretty well. I got Greatbatch, Martin Crowe and Parore. I was told at the end of the game (by John Hampshire) that I wouldn't be required for Zimbabwe again, which was a bit disappointing, considering I thought I had bowled pretty well. It was given to me as `You're getting too old', but my philosophy is it doesn't matter how old you are as long as you're competitive. If there's a youngster who's pushing his way that's fine, but let the youngster prove himself first.

"I was told I would never play Test cricket again, but two years later I was recalled to play against Sri Lanka. So I had two years in the wilderness when I thought I could have played quite a few more Tests. I played in five Tests and never played in a losing one."

Dave Houghton: "In the second innings we did really well. They left us an impossible score to chase and were cross that we didn't chase it, but with 197 for one in the second innings on the fifth day, with Kevin Arnott getting a hundred, you had to admire the guys: no experience, yet we still managed to put in a performance like that."

Kevin Arnott: "New Zealand were a different proposition from the Indians. I think they tried to intimidate us with some of their comments on the field. In our second innings we batted to make sure we saved the game. They came on to the field, some of them wearing sun cream on their faces, but some of it looked like warpaint! Certainly there were unnecessary bits of bantering.

"Rather sadly for me, Martin Crowe decided to field at a short midwicket position, and with Willie Watson bowling induckers to me I kept playing the ball to him. At fairly short distance he kept throwing the ball purportedly at the wicket-keeper, but designedly to throw it at me. Eventually he did hit me with the ball; I wasn't too amused and I don't think umpire Bird was either. I saw him go and speak to Martin Crowe. It was a sad day for me, when you look up to exceptional cricketers and see them behave in that manner. I must say I met him again several years later and we discussed some of the incidents on the field. There were apologies, and now there is no axe to grind whatsoever.

"But I was fortunate to go on to make 100 runs. I know Martin Crowe bowled towards the end, so I can say it wasn't against the best Test attack in the world! Nevertheless it was satisfactory to be able to do that. I felt rather better set in the first innings, but was adjudged out to a bat-pad catch off Dipak Patel, which was rather unfortunate."

Grant Flower: "It was quite a nasty Test and there were a lot of words said. I remember Martin Crowe having a lot to say. We eventually came out with a draw. Kevin Arnott played really well in the second innings. In the first innings I used the same game plan for batting as I did in the Inaugural Test, but not in the second innings; I went out to be more positive. In those days I didn't have the same array of shots that I do today. But I wasn't happy with the way I was handling my batting and I just went out to change things and prove to myself that I could hit the ball again."

John Traicos: "The New Zealand series was a tough one as it introduced us to sledging on a very aggressive basis. The experience was most unpleasant and it was disappointing to see prominent cricketers resort to such tactics."