Myth #2 – Edgar and Wright were a great opening partnership
Most recall New Zealand cricket’s halcyon days of the 1980’s, with the likes of Hadlee, Howarth, Crowe, Edgar and Wright. What a combination.
And whenever talk of that era begins, one of the first comments made is how wonderful the opening partnership of Edgar and Wright was. “One of the best opening partnerships ever!” is the general opinion. What a fallacy.
Overall, Edgar and Wright opened the batting together in tests on 60 occasions. Their average partnership? A remarkably unspectacular 31.42. Their highest opening partnership was 100, in the only test NZ lost in the 1985 series against Australia. It was also the only century opening stand they managed as a pair – in fact they only bettered 50 on 13 occasions.
Let’s get some perspective here. The nearest comparison is possibly Wright and Robert Vance with an average of 29.4. Yes, I said Robert Vance. Trevor Franklin’s association with Wright was far more fruitful – they averaged 48.3 together.
However, things get really interesting when you start to look at John Wright’s career average. When Bruce Edgar retired in 1986, with an extremely ordinary average of 30.59 (and neglecting to make himself available to tour the West Indies the previous year), Wright was averaging 31.74. But after Edgar’s retirement, he blossomed. He then averaged 45.15 until his retirement, finishing with an average of 37.82. It was like the shackles had been broken.
And as for the limited overs game, that’s a whole new scenario. If you thought Wright’s average across 149 games of just of 26.46 with a strike rate of only 57.18 was singularly unimpressive, take a look at Edgar. There is a plethora of batsmen that would love to have been the same opportunities afforded to him for 64 ODI games with an average of 30.74, and a quite remarkable strike rate of only 49.22 – the only genuine batsman in world cricket history not to power above 50.
You only have to look at the infamous underarm game for a blueprint on how not to chase down a target of 235.
As we all know, stats don’t always tell the real story. The test partnership of Edgar and Wright was pretty hard-nosed and obstinate one, and neither generally gave their wickets away without a real fight. Their role throughout that era was to blunt an attack, and they succeeded on a lot of occasions. The role has also changed throughout the years, with more positive play the order of the day.
But they are remembered mainly for their longevity (by NZ opening partnership standards) which tends to mask the fact that they were not actually hugely successful together.
One of the best ever? Another myth.