The constant heavy rain which upset so many matches left the Headingley ground under water and not a ball could be bowled on the first two days. The match began at two o'clock on Saturday after the captains, May and Reid had agreed to take lunch early. Again New Zealand were outplayed. They were completely at the mercy of the two Surrey spinners; Lock took 11 wickets for 65 runs and Laker eight for 44. The other wicket went to Trueman.
Each side introduced one player new to Test cricket in Milton and Sparling, and Milton became the third England player since the war to hit a century on debut, following S. C. Griffith, 140 against West Indies at Port of Spain in 1948, and P. B. H. May, 138 against South Africa at Headingley in 1951.
When Reid won the toss for the first time in the series, he must have been tempted to send in England to bat, for there was a chance that the soft pitch would roll out firm and true if the weather remained fine over the week-end; but Reid preferred to take the risk of batting first and the whole side fell in just under three and a half hours for 67.
The pitch offered no encouragement to the three seamers, Trueman, Loader and Bailey, and not until the nineteenth over did England break the opening stand after New Zealand had made 37 in seventy-five minutes. D'Arcy hooked a short ball and M. J. K. Smith held a brilliant catch at the second attempt at short-leg. Next, Smith held a high hook from Miller at long-leg, whereupon Laker and Lock caused such havoc that seven wickets were down for 49 before the tail prolonged the innings by an hour and a half. Most credit for this check to the England attack belonged to Sparling who, playing forward and driving firmly, gave a display that was an example to the rest of his team.
With Milton and Cowdrey taking two close-in catches and Evans as efficient as ever behind the stumps in his eighty-fourth Test, England, under May's astute captaincy, maintained their high reputation in the field.
As England left out P. E. Richardson for the sole purpose of trying to find a partner for him for the forthcoming tour of Australia, the innings was opened by two double Internationals, Smith having been capped at Rugby and Milton at Association Football. Smith soon fell to a catch in the slips and England finished the third day 14 for one wicket.
A fine sunny morning greeted the Gloucestershire pair, Milton and Graveney, when they resumed on Monday and they saw their side in front before Graveney was smartly caught by Sparling off a hard low return.
Milton was 32 when May joined him at one o'clock and at once May took control. The captain was always encouraging his partner. He applauded his good strokes and it was obvious that he approved of the way he was shaping, though Milton rarely played forward.
May raised the stand to 50 in as many minutes by straight driving a no-ball from Sparling for 6 and for a long time he scored twice as fast as Milton, who took three hours ten minutes for 50. May also hit Cave for 6 and, passing Milton at 62, proceeded to pierce the field with a variety of powerful strokes, his placing between mid-on and mid wicket being extremely skilful.
England were 250 for two at the tea interval with May 110 and Milton 91, and the captain waited for Milton to complete his hundred before he declared after having been at the crease himself for three hours and having made 113 out of a stand of 194. Beside his two 6's, May hit seventeen 4's. Milton batted four hours fifty-five minutes and hit eleven 4's. Milton was only the second Gloucestershire cricketer to score a century in his first Test match. One had to go back to 1880 at The Oval -- the first Test in England -- to find his predecessor, Dr. W. G. Grace, who opened with 152 against Australia.
New Zealand were 200 behind and in the remaining eighty-five minutes on Monday they lost their first three batsmen, all to Lock, for 32 runs.
It seemed that any hopes New Zealand entertained of saving the match disappeared when with the second ball on Tuesday Lock removed Sutcliffe who overnight had resisted stubbornly for three-quarters of an hour. When half an hour later Reid was taken in Laker's leg-trap, half the side were out for 45 and another collapse appeared imminent.
Thereupon the tall MacGibbon joined Playle and in eighty minutes they added 46, the best stand for New Zealand in the three Tests. Playle gave a remarkable stonewalling display, for he stayed three and a quarter hours for 18, during which time he limited himself to seven scoring strokes. Sparling occupied an hour and fifty minutes, also for 18, before being last to leave, but England won with two and a quarter hours to spare.
The conditions were ideal for Lock and Laker. With the pitch drier, the ball turned more quickly and in the circumstances New Zealand did well to last so long. The total attendance for the match was 29,000; receipts came to just over £12,000