First Test Match


At Hamilton, January 13, 14, 15, 16, 17. Drawn. Toss: Zimbabwe. Test debuts: G. I. Allott, N. J. Astle, R. J. Kennedy, G. R. Loveridge.

With that rarity in modern Test cricket - a declaration setting a realistic target - Germon tried to produce a result from a rain-ravaged match. Challenged to score 257 in two sessions, Zimbabwe might have pulled it off, too; they were 143 for three from 39 overs before three decisions went against them. Andy Flower, who saw them all from the bowler's end, said afterwards: "I wish I was allowed to comment. I think I would get into a lot of trouble if I did... Those hiccups in the middle destroyed our momentum."

Houghton, who had just become the first batsman to score 1,000 Test runs for Zimbabwe, in his 15th game, was given lbw to one that could easily have missed leg stump. Campbell was caught behind off his forearm sleeve, while Cairns secured a dubious lbw against Streak. Flower then gave up the chase, though he reached his fifty by taking safe boundaries against close fields and loose bowling. Zimbabwe ended 49 short with four wickets left.

Rain and inadequate drainage limited play to 110 overs during the first three days and New Zealand's first declaration came at the third lunch interval. As so often, Fleming cut himself off in his prime. He had struck nine fours, the best of them impeccable off and straight drives, when he tapped what he hoped would be his 50th run, to Olonga at mid-off, and was thrown out by metres. Next ball, Twose, on 12, seemed absolutely plumb but survived. On the third morning, leg-spinner Greg Loveridge marked his 21st birthday by straight-driving Olonga to the boundary, but the following delivery fractured his knuckle. The injury ended Loveridge's season but he did not retire until Patel was out, which meant that his fellow-debutants, Kennedy and Allott, made their first entry into the game together. Streak was easily the best Zimbabwean bowler; his four for 52 made him their first to reach 50 Test wickets, in 11 matches.

Conditions were equally favourable to New Zealand's No. 1 bowler, Cairns, and Zimbabwe were struggling to recover from 56 for five before lightning ended the day. Kennedy, who seemed out of his depth for much of the international season, had his best spell on the fourth afternoon, when he ended a dogged 91-run stand between Whittall and Paul Strang. It was largely due to them that New Zealand's first-innings advantage was kept to just 34. New Zealand needed quick runs to build a target but, after Twose's foolish run-out, they scored only 2.8 an over until the close. Parore gradually cast off restraint and developed easily the best innings of the match, an unbeaten 84 with some especially attractive cuts and cover drives, to help make his captain's second declaration possible.

Man of the Match: C. L. Cairns.

Close of play: First day, New Zealand 68-2 (R. G. Twose 13*, A. C. Parore 0*); Second day, New Zealand 154-4 (N. J. Astle 16*, C. L. Cairns 7*); Third day, Zimbabwe 82-5 (G. J. Whittall 9*, H. H. Streak 15*); Fourth day, New Zealand 129-4 (A. C. Parore 23*, C. L. Cairns 6*).

© John Wisden & Co