Test No. 186 was the first time the two sides met, the match beginning on January 10, 1930 at Lancaster Park. England - or MCC as they were officially called then when they toured - had previously visited New Zealand as tag-ons to Ashes tours, but now New Zealand had Test status, so this was a stand-alone trip. The Test itself, a three-day game, was low-scoring, and England won by eight wickets with 55 minutes of play remaining. There was not a fifty in the match; Duleepsinhji top-scored with 49. The match and the tour were remarkable for another fact, though. England were playing on opposite sides of world at the same time: a team was also in the Caribbean, and later in the series, there was a day of the fourth Test, in Auckland, when, for two hours, England were playing there and in Guyana as well.
At one stage on the final day, as they hunted 479, it appeared New Zealand would secure a piece of history with the greatest run chase. England had a healthy first-innings lead when the visitors subsided to 97 (with extras top-scoring), and although England's second innings was an odd card, hundreds from Dennis Amiss and Tony Greig had seemingly set them up for a comfortable victory. However, New Zealand were given their scarcely believable chance by captain Bev Congdon, who played his finest Test innings to make 176 before falling late on the fourth day. Vic Pollard and Ken Wadsworth took them to 402 for 5 before John Snow, Geoff Arnold and Greig plucked out the lower order. New Zealand's wait to beat England went on.
Forty-eight years into contests between the two nations, and the 48th time they met, New Zealand registered their first victory - and in some style, too. Richard Hadlee took 6 for 26 as they successfully defended 137. It was a remarkable turnaround. After the first innings the match was even, but Bob Willis took out half of New Zealand's second innings and they crumbled to 123 all out by tea on the fourth day. However, in the remaining two hours of the day it was England's turn to fold against Hadlee and Richard Collinge, and they ended the day eight down. Hadlee duly snared the final two the following morning; he and Collinge sent down all but one over of the innings. "The crowd gathered in front of the pavilion and sang 'For they are jolly good fellows', followed by three cheers," reported Wisden.
Two years after conjuring one of Test cricket's most famous victories, Willis could not rescue England again, as New Zealand secured their first win on English soil. Lance Cairns' seven-wicket haul had kept the home side to 225, and then New Zealand amassed a 152-run lead, with contributions throughout the order. Ewen Chatfield then claimed five and, despite David Gower's hundred, the target was just 101. Images of Australia's collapse in 1981 came to mind when New Zealand fell from 42 for 1 to 83 for 5, but with the help of 25 extras, the winning runs came when Jeremy Coney clipped Ian Botham's only ball of the innings for four - Willis had refused to bowl Botham earlier after a poor first-innings display.
England were not in the best shape leading into the match. They had been forced to call up Tony Pigott, who was playing for Wellington, and was due to get married, to an injury-hit attack. New Zealand, managed to post 307 on what was already a tricky surface. England did not come close to matching them over two innings. They fell to 10 for 4 in the first; nine of the wickets fell to Hadlee, Chatfield and Cairns, and Stephen Boock took one with his first ball in Test cricket for three years. Second time around, Hadlee took 5 for 28 and Boock claimed two in consecutive balls. "There weren't often many wickets left to take when Hadlee was in this form, so I enjoyed getting Gatting and Botham," Boock said. "It was also a good era for us. Almost every series we played, we started as underdogs, but we were also determined to stand up for ourselves."
This was a period when overseas victories were like hen's teeth for England, and they secured the spoils at Lancaster Park in the nick of time. They had dominated throughout, piling up 580 for 9, but although New Zealand could not save the follow-on, they batted stubbornly - Dipak Patel was run out for 99 - and began the final day one down in their second innings. At 182 for 2, safety looked within their grasp but Derek Pringle winkled out Andrew Jones before tea. Still, England needed seven wickets in the final session and New Zealand were closing in on wiping out the deficit. Then Phil Tufnell, who the previous English season had bowled out West Indies at The Oval, made his mark. John Wright, having batted more than six and a half hours, lost his cool and was stumped. Then Tufnell snuffed out the middle order with a delightful spell ("The fruit of flighted bowling of rare, old-fashioned craft," said Wisden). Martin Crowe remained the final obstacle and knew if he could get his team level 10 vital minutes would be lost and a draw earned. He gambled, charged at Tufnell, lofted the ball… and found mid-on.
As so often, England were slow starters in a series overseas, wasting the new ball on the opening day. Stephen Fleming scored his maiden Test hundred, and New Zealand posted a competitive 390, but England batted confidently in reply. Alec Stewart's stellar form continued, Mike Atherton found some touch after a horrid time in Zimbabwe, and Graham Thorpe's century ensured a useful lead. New Zealand were three down, and still behind, at the close of the fourth day. Shortly after lunch on the final day, when Darren Gough bowled Simon Doull, they were 142 for 9 - just 11 runs ahead. What followed was one of the more extraordinary last-wicket stands: Danny Morrison, the holder at the time of the record for the most Test ducks, and in what would be his final Test, batted nearly three hours and faced 133 balls alongside Nathan Astle, who brought up his hundred off the final ball of the match, having taken New Zealand to safety.
It had been a desperate summer for English cricket: crashing out of the World Cup before the official song was released then bumbling their way through the series against New Zealand, which reached a deciding match at The Oval, following the visitors' first ever victory at Lord's. England started well enough, reducing New Zealand to 157 for 8 on the first day before Daniel Vettori hauled them to 236. That proved enough for a substantial lead, after England subsided to 153 (crawling along for 80 overs); Chris Cairns claimed 5 for 31. Cairns wasn't finished. New Zealand had crashed to 39 for 6, threatening to hand the game back to England, when he produced one of his finest Test innings, making 80. At 123 for 2 a target of 246 seemed within England's compass, but a collapse was never far away. Thorpe fell to Shayne O'Connor, and then Dion Nash took three wickets in 12 balls. The end came swiftly, Roger Twose settling under the skied catch that sent England to the bottom of the unofficial Wisden world rankings.
It was a quite extraordinary Test match, starting on a green, seaming drop-in pitch and finishing on a road. And featuring a world record. Nasser Hussain's outstanding century came in the toughest conditions on the opening day, and Matthew Hoggard's 7 for 63 secured a first-innings lead. Then things started to change. From 106 for 5 - and with the match in the balance - Graham Thorpe and Andrew Flintoff added 281 in 51 overs. Flintoff's maiden Test hundred came off 114 balls and Thorpe's first double off 231: at the time, it was the third quickest double ton in Tests. Much quicker was to come. When the ninth wicket fell in New Zealand's chase, Nathan Astle had just begun to tee off: six of the previous nine deliveries he had faced had gone for four. An astonishing assault followed on Hoggard and Andrew Caddick, and Astle went to a ferocious double off just 153 balls - the second hundred coming in 39 balls. With an injured Chris Cairns at No. 11, England were getting nervous - until Astle edged Matthew Hoggard to end the carnage.
New Zealand were on top from the start of this game. Alastair Cook had inserted them but England managed just one wicket on the opening day, while Peter Fulton scored his maiden Test hundred. Where England's bowlers barely moved the ball, in the hands of Trent Boult and Tim Southee it was far more dangerous: England were bowled out well under halfway to the visitors' first-innings score. Fulton then become the fourth New Zealander to hit twin hundreds in a Test and England were left more than five sessions to survive. Kane Williamson struck twice late on the fourth evening, leaving England 90 for 4, and though there was better resistance on the final morning, they were six down shortly after lunch and seven down at tea after Ian Bell's 271-ball innings ended. Matt Prior remained, though, and did not just defend: his hundred came from 148 balls, although he had had a huge stroke of fortune when a bail had refused to dislodge when he was on 28. The blocking came from Stuart Broad: 62 deliveries to get off the mark and 77 in all over more than two hours. But he and James Anderson fell in one over to Williamson and it was down to Prior and Monty Panesar. In the final three overs Panesar faced just five deliveries - and his dive back into the crease during a hairy run became iconic. He was on strike for the final over, but escaped after three balls. Prior did the rest.
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo