Test cricket returns to Eden Park tomorrow, a ground that was once a multi-purpose sporting venue. In fact, despite the fact that it is clearly perfectly unsuited to test cricket in 2013, it does possess a decent history of New Zealand v England cricket tests.
Here are five of the more memorable tests from years gone by.
What can you say really? A reminder to all talkback callers who say that any given New Zealand test side is the worst of all time, that they have no sense of history.
There is the possibly apocryphal story about the Christchurch cricket fan who followed this test on the radio. And it did not start too badly. New Zealand trailed by only 46 on the first innings; there was possibly a bit of history in the making so he jumped on a plane to watch potential history unfolding.
By the time he got off the plane in Auckland it was all over. New Zealand dismissed for 26; a record that still stands in world cricket, despite Australia’s best efforts to claim it in 2011. Sutcliffe top scored with 11. Trauma details here.
Someone nearly died
A photo that still chills.
England were cruising for a regulation innings victory in the first test of a series tagged onto the end of their famous mauling from Lille & Thomson in the Ashes.
Early on the fourth morning, as the final rites were being played out Peter Lever hit Chatfield in the head in pre helmet days and the debutant lay prone on the ground. Only quick work from English physiotherapist Bernard Thomas saved the day.
This is why you do not have timeless tests anymore
New Zealand’s only ever six day test at home; and this is why.
The 1978 tour by England provided NZ with its first ever victory over the old foe in a ripper of a test at the Basin, where a score of 228 turned out to be the match’s highest team score. England levelled and Christchurch, and it was all even for the Eden Park decider. And a six day test. Luxury.
Actually, it was anything but. A dead pitch combined with two sides playing not to lose resulted in a stupefying dull match.
Six days for test cricket producing under 1200 runs at a run rate of just over 2 an over when adjusted to 6 ball overs. Clive Radley; 158 off 524 balls. Imagine that.
A test that New Zealand dominated early on. Stephen Fleming scored his much anticipated debut test century, and when Blair Pocock chips in with 70 you know it’s all a bit easy. But it soon turned ugly when it became apparent the bowling attack was built around Danny Morrison selling duck ties in his testimonial year, with stock bowling options being led by Justin Vaughan.
A classic last day batting collapse, including a classic Parore run out, and not the bravest ever innings from Dipak Patel, left the home side 10 or so runs in credit with almost two sessions to play as the guy flogging duck ties walking to the crease.
The rest is history; Morrison played the test innings of his life, and Astle had fun from the other end. Tufnell found it hard to get turn on the dying pitch, Mullaly was never a test bowler, and NZ held on for the draw.
Test cricket, but not as we know it
A test match in Auckland. Most of it played in April after the clocks had been put back. On a drop-in pitch. What could possibly go wrong?
Surreal is a word bandied about too often, but it’s appropriate here.. Nasser Hussain may be rightly accused of being a bit of a whiner, but he was spot on describing this pitch as “batting on corrugated iron”.
The home side were 19/4 early on. But they were saved by Chris Harris (refer surreal comment above). A score of 202 did not seem enough for a side needing the win for a drawn series but the drop-in wasn’t working and Darryl Tuffey blasted through Englnad’s batting (see above).
The fourth day lasted about 10 hours as hours previously lost were made up; Astle and McMillan went crazy with the bat and Hussain called for play to be called off as those fielders were in danger fielding under the lights.
In the end, England came out grumpy on the final day, had no faith in the corrugated iron of a deck and New Zealand with the three pronged pace attack of Tuffey, Drum and Adams saw the home side level the series.
At the time it was felt this was the future of test cricket, but it is yet to happen