In 1976 Bishan Bedi had been hospitalised with pneumonia playing a test match at the Basin Reserve while fielding in a slightly bitter gale. This prompted the decision to realign the New Zealand Home of Cricket to a slightly more sheltered set-up so the Southerly was slightly deflected.
But there was one more test to be played in the old set-up. The 48th attempt to beat England after 48 years.
And as a fourth former attending a school over the back fence this was just great. Early in the year; surely this was the chance to wag a bit?
The test started off with John Wright, on debut, smashing one through to the keeper and being given not out.
Some Maths lesson (he was harsh and a renowned equine looking disciplinarian) got in the way of my seeing that, but I was there to see him reach stumps on the Friday not out on 55*. It was the sort of knock he would become renowned for. Regardless of which end he was batting from he always seemed to be playing into the wind.
For the next two days New Zealand tenuously held their position of slight dominance. Three was that stubborn influence of Geoff Boycott in the rare role for playing for himself as well as the team he captained, but once he fell to Collinge you knew New Zealand was still in it.
But we’d seen it all before; most famously in 1955, so there was grim optimism at best.
The Monday was a rest day; the English bowlers were sent out fishing in a decent swell off Seatoun, and play commenced on the Tuesday.
Personally, that was a day reserved for McEvedy Shield trials at Newtown Park. Typically I was not required for the business end of these, and I was not alone; it was an early afternoon rush down to The Basin. In that time though, New Zealand had gone from 52 without loss to all out for 123.
School shoes hammered into the pavement.
Still though, the ground was filling up, and where there’s hope and a large number of schoolkids in there. The wind had even died down a bit.
It all started when Collinge got Boycott playing across the line. Yes; Boycott played (slightly) across the line and suddenly 137 seemed like a decent target.
After the ROC did the groundwork Richard Hadlee warmed to his task. It was heady stuff; the masses were in, there was a constant Hadlee clap clap clap from the crowd. Even a sober fourth former knew this was something special.
And the siren over the road was busy.
When the otherwise under employed Stephen Boock ran out Bob Taylor with a direct hit from side on, we started to pinch ourselves. Forget the athletics trials; this was a race to the middle to pat everyone on the back. This was Tuesday afternoon euphoria.
The Car Yard siren on Dufferin St cranked up again. No cars were being sold that afternoon; there were more important things at stake.
England finished a surreal final session at 53/8. Yes that’s right. And the Car Yard siren played on.
The final day was delayed with some more mist lurking around. That was perfect; it made for an easier class to miss to watch history being played out.
Sure; we were caught out on TV, but the punishment was so token I can’t ever remember what it was.
Those memories will never subside; unlike a 4th form Art lesson for example.