England v New Zealand - Test History
The Test history between the two sides stretches right back to the 1929-30 season, with England visiting New Zealand to give the locals their inaugural Test series against any opponent. There were ominous signs of history to come for New Zealand, when at Christchurch in their first ever Test match, they were dismissed for scores of 112 and 131, losing by 8 wickets. They did manage to at least claim some credit by drawing remaining three three-day Tests with a fair degree of ability shown. However, it was to be another 48 years before New Zealand tasted victory against the mother country.
England provided New Zealand 19 of their first 22 Tests spanning 21 years (and a World War), and though they could only win four of them, proved they were clearly the superior and more professional side. Notable performances came when England returned to New Zealand in 1932-33, and a rampant Wally Hammond proceeded to crack 227 and 336* (a new world record at the time) in his only two innings, for a series average of 563.
Then in the 1949 tour, acclaimed by many experts in New Zealand as their greatest ever touring performance, all four Tests were high scoring draws, with two former greats in Martin Donnelly and Len Hutton each scoring a fine 206 at Lord's and The Oval respectively. The tourists made many think twice of the MCC's decision to only give them three-day status. New Zealand lost just once in 35 arduous tour matches in Great Britain.
Though, in the handful of years to follow, New Zealand once again bowed down to expectation. Their darkest day came at Auckland on the 28th of March, 1955. Facing a mere first innings deficit of 46, the hosts proceeded to fold for 26, with only opener Bert Sutcliffe making it to double figures. It's still a world record today, and only unlikely to be beaten in a hurry.
New Zealand emerged from that experience with their first ever Test victory, against the West Indies the very next season, only to succumb to England 4-0 in a five Test series. The dominant feature of the series was the sight of Jim Laker and Tony Lock repeatedly skittling the tourists for sub-100 totals. This all made another mockery of the encounters between the two sides being recognised as full five-day affairs.
Between 1951 and 1965, the two sides met 15 times, England failing to win all but a mere two. This included three-match series whitewashes in 1962-63 and 1965. In the final Test of the latter series, John Edrich piled on 310 at Headingley, and shared in a partnership of 369 for the second wicket with Ken Barrington.
In the proceeding decade, England were barely less dominant, winning six of the 13 encounters during that period, with New Zealand still winless in 47 attempts. The first Test of 1973 in England provided one of the more remarkable games, with England bowling the visitors out for a paltry 97 in the first innings, and setting up a final innings target of 479 to win. With wonderful centuries to captain Bevan Congdon and Vic Pollard, at 402/5 New Zealand had their first ever win over England in their sights. However it wasn't to be, with New Zealand's last five wickets folding for 38 to lose by that many, denying them of a sensational victory.
In the following Test at Lord's, Congdon followed up his prior innings of 176 with 175, along with Mark Burgess and Pollard again, to see New Zealand rack up 551/9 declared - their highest ever total against England. 178 from Keith Fletcher made sure England held their perfect record against the Kiwis.
The next series saw England reciprocate, notching up a mammoth 593/6 declared at Auckland, their highest total against New Zealand, with Fletcher again in on the action with 216, adding 266 for the 4th wicket with Mike Denness (181). The match came to an alarming end when, with New Zealand still 83 runs short of forcing England to chase a target, Ewen Chatfield came to grief from a Peter Lever bouncer. Knocked unconscious from the blow to the head, Chatfield was clinically dead for a few moments, until being rescucitated by the England team physiotherapist Bernard Thomas.
Then in 1978, at their 48th attempt, the New Zealanders finally hit paydirt, thanks to some last day heroics from a young nemesis that would cast a spell over English batsmen for the next decade. With England requiring just 137 to take out the first Test at Wellington, it seemed a formality. However from the moment Richard Collinge sent Geoff Boycott's bails flying, who had earlier made the game's highest innings of 77 in a low scoring affair, a wave of confidence came over the home players. Enter Richard Hadlee, bowling unchanged he took the English middle and lower order apart, sending the raucous home crowd into raptures as they were demolished for just 64, Hadlee taking 6-26.
The watershed was to be short-lived however, as England hit back in the next Test to square and ultimately draw the series. But the worm had finally turned, if just a little way, at least.
New Zealand visited England just a few months later, and were cruelly dealt another lesson in history, hammered three-nil. It was to be another five years before the sides met again, also on English soil. England ran out comfortable victors in the first Test, extending their overall record to 28 wins in 54 Tests, with just the solitary blemish. A ten wicket haul from Lance Cairns and able support from Chatfield at Headingley in the second Test, saw New Zealand to its breakthrough win on English soil, despite Bob Willis' best efforts defending a low target. This was made all the more amazing for the fact it was the only Test in Hadlee's illustrious career that he failed to take a wicket in either innings, however he did contribute a valuable 75 with the bat and was there when the winning runs were struck. Like so often before, though, England brought New Zealand crashing back down to earth with convincing wins in the remaining two matches.
The second Test of the return series in New Zealand saw one of the cricketing knight's finer all-round performances - falling just a run short of his second Test century, then grabbing a match haul of 8-46 - as England were humbled well inside three days, by an innings and 132 runs. The home side clung on to their one-match advantage thanks to some rarely-seen consistent batting, to record their first ever series victory over England.
In 1986, the Kiwi hoodoo over England continued, as they swept through 15 first-class matches undefeated, and took out an elusive Test series victory on foreign soil. The victory coming in the second Test at Hadlee's county haunting ground of Trent Bridge, where he dominated again with 10 wickets and scored a valuable 68 as New Zealand won by eight wickets.
That ended a run of three wins in as many series for New Zealand, and four in just over eight years in the space of 15 Tests. Normally that would be regarded as slim pickings for most, or barely competitive at best, however these sobering statistics represent the sum total of success from New Zealand's toil for 67 years, with no further success in the last 11 of these.
The series of the 1990s have brought back figures resembling those of old, with England victorious in six of the 12 encounters, drawing the other half. Though their win in the third Test of 1990 represented their first victory over the Kiwis for seven years and 12 Tests, easily their longest gaps between successes against New Zealand.
In 1991-92 at Christchurch, Martin Crowe inserted England in to bat at the toss, a move that ultimately backfired as the visitors piled on 580/9 declared. Dipak Patel was then comically run out for what ended up his Test best of 99, coming back for the third run as one of the worst regarded fielders of the time, Derek Pringle, threw from the deep to see him short at the non-striker's end. But the match belonged to Phil Tufnell, as he bowled an inspired spell of left arm orthodox spin on the final afternoon to snatch a dramatic innings win when New Zealand seemed to have done enough to hold out for a draw. Just three down at tea, and John Wright unbeaten on 99, things looked comfortable for the home side, until Wright was frustrated by being unable to score after the interval. He charged Tufnell and was stumped for his second 99 of his career. That sparked a mighty capitulation, and Crowe's dismissal ended it, as he attempted to strike a boundary that would've levelled the scores and seen New Zealand to a draw with just ten minutes remaining in the match. Tufnell's 7-47 contributing to a match haul of eleven.
England comfortably took the second Test to clinch the series, and the third at Wellington was drawn but more notable for other events. Tufnell and Hick shouldered a hefty load at the bowling crease in New Zealand's first innings, sharing 140 of the 192 overs to be bowled. On the final afternoon, Sid Lawrence's career was ended in one agonising moment at the bowling crease, as he fractured a kneecap. A fracas near the gate as Lawrence was being stretchered off soured things even further, as the English team management and players were scathing of the media getting in their way as they tried to get a close-up view of events. Despite England's dominant form in both the Test and One-Day International series, New Zealand got a slice of revenge back by winning the World Cup clash at the same venue just weeks later.
England crushed New Zealand by an innings and 90 runs in the first Test in 1994, led by a Gooch double century and nine wickets to DeFreitas. However, the tables were to be turned in the second Test, as New Zealand, as so many touring sides to, picked up their game at the hallowed turf of Lord's. Martin Crowe scored a classical 142, the innings he rated the best of his career, to set up a strong first innings effort. But it was a relative unknown in the form of Dion Nash that set the game alight as he took eleven wickets to follow up his 56 at number nine in the batting order to become the first player to perform such a feat in a Lord's Test. New Zealand were denied the possiblity of a famous victory as Steve Rhodes and Paul Taylor held out in fading light, that prevented pace bowling, and most importantly Nash, from being used with the lingering threat of instant curtailment. Another Crowe century held England off in the third Test, in almost the reverse circumstances after New Zealand were forced to follow on, handing a deserved series result of 1-0 to the home side.
In the most recent series to date, England yet again asserted their authority over their colonial cousins, beating New Zealand 2-0 at home, and not far short of making it a clean sweep, despite coming off a wretched tour of Zimbabwe. With many heads lined up ready for the chopping block, England began to perform under pressure. Stephen Fleming's long-awaited maiden Test century couldn't match Alec Stewart's solid 173, who in tandem with Thorpe set up a strong first innings advantage. New Zealand crumbled trying to hold out for four sessions, and at lunch on the final day were eight down and all but finished off. Simon Doull lashed out briefly to avoid the ignominy of an innings defeat, before Danny Morrison joined Nathan Astle and together they frustrated the English attack for 165 minutes, who failed to seize the final wicket. Astle slamming a boundary through the covers brought up his century and also signalled the end of the match. Morrison faced 133 balls for just 14 stoic runs, but his Test career ended there as his heroics with the bat were overlooked for want of a better bowler.
The second Test saw captain Lee Germon make a fatal mistake at the toss, choosing to bat on a shortened, damp first afternoon which saw New Zealand reduced to 56/6 by stumps and effectively the match was over. New Zealand stumbled twice to lose by an innings with Gough picking up nine wickets.
In the final Test, New Zealand batted solidly througout and future World Cup star Geoff Allott picked up four scalps to give the home side a sizeable 108 run first innings advantage. However yet another batting failure saw England in with a chance as they required 305 to win. Mike Atherton showed oodles of grit and determination to score 118, following his unbeaten 94 carrying his bat in the first innings, but Daniel Vettori, in just his second Test, took three quick wickets to leave the match, and the series, delicately in the balance until John Crawley and Dominic Cork guided England home to a four wicket win and 2-0 series victory.
The overall record between the two sides makes for an imbalance of such proportions that falsely purports this series will be a formality for the home side - New Zealand having just won twice in 40 attempts on English soil - both coming in the Hadlee era and at the two major Test grounds not being utilised for this series.
However recent form suggests otherwise, with the home team failing to progress any further than the first round at the World Cup while the Kiwis come off a relative high of reaching the semi finals. Add to that the fact England are under the leadership of yet another new captain, are lacking a fully committed coach, and New Zealand have shown promising warm up form, albeit against weak local opposition, it suggests this should make for a rather even contest.
Interestingly, this will be New Zealand's first Test series of more than three Tests since 1984-85 in the West Indies. It may yet prove a decisive factor depending on how well players, many who have been more used to a balance of two and three match series, cope over an extended period.
Overall record (including 2nd Test at Lord's):
England won: 37
New Zealand won: 5