It’s coming up to thirty-five years since the New Zealand test team pulled off one of their most incredible victories ever – and one that every true Kiwi cricket fan never tires of re-living. It was on November 12th, 1985 that the country experienced its very first victory over neighbours and arch-rivals Australia on foreign soil. Brisbane’s Gabba was the venue, and it marked the start of a remarkable test series for Sir Richard Hadlee.
While the details of the match are fairly well-known, what many fans will not know is the gamble that led to his total dominance over the Australians in a series that saw him take a total of 33 wickets in the three matches played.
Turning back the clock
At the age of 35, Hadlee was starting to feel the effects of his advancing years, so there was a conscious decision by coach Glenn Turner to both shorten his run-up and get him to bowl in from closer to the stumps. As has been shown many times, interfering with a bowler’s action, however unorthodox it might be, can have devastating consequences for their performance.
The training that Hadlee received when perfecting his new technique was even more surprising. Initially overseen by Glenn Turner who stood in for the umpire whose shoulder Hadlee had to virtually touch when bowling in the new way, the coach was called away to attend to the rest of the team’s training.
With no-one else available to replace Turner, Hadlee brought a large dustbin to the nets which he placed just where the umpire would be standing in the actual match and continued to practice until he was comfortable with the new technique.
Now able to aim his trajectory from wicket to wicket, it suddenly made up for, in terms of lateral movement, what the ageing Hadlee was lacking in pace. He was also able to further perfect the technique over the 40 overs he bowled in the warm-up game against Queensland – although the single wicket he took hardly prepared the cricketing world for what was to follow.
Today, with New Zealand second only to Australia in the ICC Test Rankings, the odds of the remarkable victory would be considerably lower. However, Australia would probably still be favourites to win with most online sportsbooks and casino operators in New Zealand featuring on sites such as Casino Market. Although online betting was still a long way off in the future at the time of the clash, in recent years it has become increasingly popular with New Zealanders, many of whom rely on the site to find the best bonuses on offer to sports fans and casino players.
For the full story of the match itself, you can find an in-depth retrospective on the ESPN Cricinfo site, including unique insights from players on both sides. Suffice to say that Hadlee went on to take 16 wickets in the match as well as achieving career-best bowling figures of 9-52, scoring 54 and going on to be Player of the Match, which New Zealand won by an innings and 41 runs.
Conclusive proof, you’ll surely agree, that sometimes rubbish bowling really can get results.