Not for the first time in these early weeks of their tour New Zealand gave a feeble batting display, but effected a praiseworthy recovery at the second attempt.
Seldom in England has a Test been contested in such cold cheerless weather. It never differed throughout the five days and the total attendance during that period numbered no more than 21,000. New Zealand's share of the gate was barely £1,000. Only 107 paid at the turnstiles on the final day when England won by a quarter to one.
Consistent batting on the opening day when they scored 232 for three wickets gave England a sound start after Smith won the toss and they never looked back.
Following a sound first-wicket stand of 54 by Barber and Boycott, Dexter and Cowdrey played fluently. Barrington not out 61 on Thursday evening, reached his best score since his triumphant return from South Africa; he had hit only three 4's and it had taken him three and a quarter hours.
In contrast, Cowdrey, his partner made 44 in ninety minutes and next day the Kent captain continued his charming display. He made 85 of 136 added for the fourth wicket before falling to a ball which hit him in the body and trickled against his stumps as he vainly tried to sweep it away at the second or third attempt.
Everything else on the second day was overshadowed by Barrington's tedious exhibition. Adopting the most exaggerated two-eyed stance ever seen he occupied the crease altogether for seven and a quarter hours for 137 -- his thirteenth Test century and England required nine hours to build their total of 435.
Barrington stayed at 85 for sixty-two minutes without scoring while twenty overs were delivered. He had a particularly anxious time when Reid became his side's sixth bowler at 261. Reid mixed the leg cutter with the off break and beat Barrington five times in one over.
That the bowling, generally, was not so difficult as Barrington suggested was revealed as soon as he completed his hundred in six and a quarter hours. He promptly celebrated by punishing the off-spinner, Pollard, for 14 in one over, including a mighty drive for 6. Last out, Barrington also hit eleven 4's, his brisk stand of 41 with Rumsey -- two classic cover drives -- was England's best for the tenth wicket against New Zealand.
Smith, the England captain, arrived when the conditions were most cheerless; twice they served hot coffee on this second day and he had the misfortune of being leg-before during Barrington's barren hour. It was Smith's fourth duck in his last six innings and his tenth in Test cricket.
Collinge, the 19-year-old left arm fast bowler, could look back satisfactorily on his first Test against England. It was no mean feat to dismiss Cowdrey, Barrington and Smith in 30 overs for no more than 63 runs.
Motz always looked hostile and bowled untiringly in getting five wickets for 108. Although Cameron could show only one victim in Trueman, thanks to a very fine catch at mid wicket by Pollard, he always commanded respect.
Despite their long outing in the field, Dowling and Congdon, the New Zealand opening batsmen, shouldered their responsibility with assurance. They declined to be intimidated by the umbrella field Smith set for Trueman and Rumsey, and Dowling's first five scoring strokes all went to the boundary.
Titmus broke the stand at 54 when in his sixth over he changed for one ball to round the wicket and had Congdon taken by Smith in the leg trap. At the close, New Zealand were 59 for one wicket.
By the third day the pitch was taking a fair amount of spin and in two hours before lunch, eight wickets fell for 57. A mishap to Sutcliffe, their 41-year-old left-hander, seemed to disrupt the whole side. New Zealand had lost three men for 71 when Sutcliffe was struck on the right ear by a bouncer from Trueman which did not rise as he expected. Sutcliffe ducked into the ball and the game was held up for eight minutes. Within twenty minutes he became dizzy after running three for a straight drive by Sinclair and he retired.
Such a collapse ensued that he had to come back for the last two minutes before lunch, but during the break it was decided he was not fit to continue and the innings closed. Reid, like his rival captain, went cheaply through chopping a harmless looking ball from Trueman into his wicket. Titmus gave New Zealand most trouble and he took four of the first six wickets in 26 overs for only 18 runs.
Consistent batting was the feature of New Zealand's second innings when they followed on 319 behind. Only three men failed to reach double figures and seven made at least 40.
Again Dowling and Congdon began positively. As soon as Titmus came on at 27 Congdon showed his intention to punish the half volley by striking him for 6 and 4. But in Barber's first over, with the total 65, Congdon, attempting to sweep, overbalanced and the ball hit his upper lip so that he, too, retired. Happily, he was not badly hurt and he returned at the fall of the second wicket.
Reid started by hooking Barber for 6 and 4 and he made 44 in fifty minutes before leaving to a fine catch in the deep by Barrington. During the last hour on Saturday, Morgan and Dick took charge and raised the total to 215 for four wickets, New Zealand being 104 behind at the week-end.
Both were dismissed in the first hour on Monday and thereupon Pollard joined Sutcliffe in a record stand of 104 for the New Zealand seventh wicket against England. New Zealand also proceeded to run up their highest total against England for fourteen years.
As soon as Sutcliffe arrived, Smith claimed the new ball in the 87th over, but with Trueman keeping the ball up and outside the off stump, the batsman had nothing to worry about and he indulged in effortless stroke play. Pollard seemed inspired in the company of such an experienced player as Sutcliffe and played sensible cricket, using the square cut, off drive and hook to excellent purpose.
Sutcliffe had just completed his twentieth Test fifty when bad light caused a break of half an hour -- tea being taken -- but on resuming Dexter claimed him as his first victim of the season in first-class cricket with the help of a smart low catch in the gully by Titmus.
Motz hit gaily, but Trueman, with the third new ball accounted for Collinge and Cameron. This meant that Pollard took out his bat for 81 after resisting the England bowling for four hours. He hit twelve 4's in a very fine display for one so young.
England needed 95 and with only eight minutes left when Boycott and Barber began the task the match went into the fifth day. The only interest was England's margin of success.
It looked like coming by ten wickets, but with three needed, Barber, who had hit delightfully for his fifth Test 50 in his last six innings, tried to finish the match with a six, only to be caught in the deep by Vivian who fielded as substitute for Sutcliffe. So Dexter watched Boycott slam the next ball to the boundary to give England their seventh win in eleven Tests at Edgbaston, where they have never been beaten.