FAMOUS TEST MATCHES – New Zealand v England, Wellington 1977-78

  This was the 48th Test played between England and New Zealand, and the first one was played 48 years ago – New Zealand having not won a single Test over them. England had started the season with a 3-0 win in the Ashes, before settling for a 0-0 stalemate in Pakistan, and were expected to beat the Kiwis, as always had been the case. The opening Test was played at the Basin Reserve in Wellington. 

  England, led by Geoff Boycott, and with Bob Willis, Mike Hendrick, Chris Old and Ian Botham in their seam department, inserted the hosts in. New Zealand started off solidly, with John Wright leading the way – he scored a patient 55 off 244 balls, and was 4th out at 152, immediately as the second day began. Bev Congdon chipped in with a gutsy 44 at No.5 before Old took his number. Old went on to pick 6/54, as the home side collapsed from 191/4 to 228 all out. England ended the second day at a comfortable 89/2, with the dependable Boycott still at the crease with 36*. But the home pacemen Richard Hadlee and Richard Collinge kept on chipping away with wickets on the third day, with Boycott 6th out at 188, scoring a typical 77 in 302 balls. England too suffered a collapse, as they went from 183/4 to 215, ensuring a narrow lead for the hosts. 

  The 4th day turned out be highly dramatic, as 18 wickets tumbled, and the match swerved this way and that. New Zealand’s openers calmly extended the lead, and were looking set at 54/0, before Willis decided to spice up things. After Old removed Robert Anderson for 26 (the joint-highest score in the innings along-with extras), Willis (5/32) took over, and proceeded to grab 5 out of the next 6 wickets to reduce the hosts to 104/7, before they folded up for 123. New Zealand had lost 10/69 and 9/41, and a match which looked to be in control had almost slipped away – England needing a modest 137 to go one-up in the 3 match series.

ImageThe legendary Richard Hadlee bagged ten wickets in the historic Test (source – espncricinfo.com)

  However, on a pitch of uneven bounce, New Zealand’s pacemen were all charged up, and following their decent first innings show, were determined to make a match out of it. Collinge bowled Boycott for 1, and then removed Geoff Miller and Derek Randall to set the tone, and what followed was one of the most memorable bowling spells by the great Richard Hadlee. To make matters worse, opener Brian Rose retired hurt with a bruised arm at 14/2. Hadlee had Graham Roope caught behind for nought before nailing Botham, and when Bob Taylor was run out, the score read 38/6 – England still needing 99 to prevent New Zealand from notching up their first win over them. But further disaster struck, and England ended the day at 53/8 – rain being their only hope.  

  And rain it did, on the final morning, but just for 40 minutes. When play resumed, the hosts bagged the final two wickets in 49 minutes in an understandably emotional atmosphere. The crowd gathered in front of the pavilion and sang “For they are jolly good fellows”, followed by three cheers. Hadlee finished with 6/26, and 10/100 in the Test, as England were shot out for 64 in 27.3 overs, beating their previous lowest against New Zealand (181 in 1929-30) by a safe distance. Except for an over by Dayle Hadlee (Richard’s older brother), the younger Hadlee and Collinge (3/35) bowled unchanged to destroy England. 

  This 72 run win was New Zealand’s finest hour yet, and fittingly, their greatest cricketer – Richard Hadlee played the pivotal role in the victory. The series ended in a 1-1 draw, but New Zealand had got their moment of glory.

Match scorecard – http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/63203.html

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