NEW ZEALAND v ENGLAND - The 1920s and 30s
by Lynn McConnell
New Zealand's first Test matches were played in this series. Only three Tests were scheduled but the lucrative Saturdays in two of the Tests were rained off so the MCC agreed to play a fourth match.
The first Test started on January 10 1930. New Zealand captain Tom Lowry won the toss and New Zealand batted first. Interestingly, when the season of 2001/02 started New Zealand had played 288 Tests and had won 144 tosses and lost the same number.
But it wasn't long before the curse of New Zealand's Test history, the batting collapse, was making its presence felt.
Maurice Allom got stuck in from the word go and New Zealand were reeling at 21 for seven wickets, courtesy of an Allom hat-trick. And he rubbed it in even more by taking four wickets in five balls. The victims were: Tom Lowry (lbw), Ken James (caught) and Ted Badcock (bowled). Stewie Dempster had been out (bowled) two balls before Lowry.
New Zealand, dismissed for 112, did roll England for 181 but New Zealand's second innings 131 was not enough to prevent an eight wicket win for England.
The second Test, at the Basin Reserve, was drawn after New Zealand reached 440 when batting first, with Dempster and Jack Mills putting on 276 for the first wicket, Their record stood until 1972 when Glenn Turner and Terry Jarvis scored 387 against the West Indies.
New Zealand gained a 120-run lead when Badcock and George Dickinson took seven wickets between them and built on it with Dempster finishing 80 not out. England had no time at all in which to score the 285 runs required.
The third Test was washed out after England had scored 330/4 and New Zealand had reached 96/1 with Dempster 62 not out.
Then, in the hastily arranged fourth Test, Otago's refusal to release Badcock, New for the game was obvious in the MCC batting as they piled on 540 to which New Zealand replied with 387.
If ever a series needed no advance publicity it was that by Douglas Jardine's side when they ventured across the Tasman at the end of their infamous Bodyline series. Harold Larwood and the Nawab of Pataudi had gone home after Australia, but the side was still the most formidable combination to have toured New Zealand to that time.
And its results reflected that point. The loss of Herbert Sutcliffe and Eddie Paynter, both for ducks to have the MCC two wickets down for four runs at Lancaster Park, gave no portent of what was to come.
Wally Hammond began an innings that turned the New Zealand attack, which included 18-year-old leg-spinner Doug Freeman, on its head. He scored 227, the highest score of his Test career to that stage, as the side amassed 560/8 declared, Les Ames backing him up with 103.
New Zealand was rolled for 223 but the unlikely event of a dust storm, followed by rain, saved New Zealand.
At Eden Park, Bill Bowes made a mockery of New Zealand's decision to bat first when taking the wickets of Jack Mills and Lindsay Weir with his first two deliveries. Stewie Dempster was 83 not out after coming in at No 4 having arrived late at the ground. New Zealand was all out for 158 as Bowes finished with six for 34.
Then, in the highest Test innings ever played in New Zealand, Wally Hammond scored 336 not out, scored in 318 minutes, as England romped towards 548/7 before declaring.
Rain denied England the chance of victory soon after the start of the third day.
The visit of Errol Holmes' MCC side was not the occasion for official Test matches, but the games formed a vital link in New Zealand's cricket development. However, the true worth of New Zealand's abilities was not made apparent during the series as several players who had pursued cricket careers in England were deemed ineligible by the New Zealand Cricket Council
Before the 1931 tour of England, players had been asked not to return to England to play for two years after the tour. This was, in hindsight, a sorry situation for New Zealand. But the thinking at the time was to fall in line with English requests that players not be 'poached' to play in England. At the height of the Great Depression it was an unfortunate policy which would have been laughed at by players of later years.
Bill Merritt was immediately suspended by New Zealand's CC on his return because he had signed with a Manchester club. Ces Dacre, of the 1927 team, was already playing for Gloucestershire, while Merritt was soon followed by Dempster, Ian Cromb and Ken James.
Cromb had returned to New Zealand and was awarded the captaincy of the side which met the MCC in four matches.
New Zealand did not enjoy the best of starts, being dismissed for 81 in the first match at Carisbrook. The MCC replied with 653/5 declared, Jim Parks (100), Wilf Barber (173) and Jim Langridge (106 not out) getting among the runs. Giff Vivian's 87 not out helped New Zealand hold out for a draw.
New Zealand, at the Basin Reserve, got into a position of significant advantage in the second match, Jack Kerr, who was unavailable for the first game, scoring 105 not out as New Zealand cashed in on its 86-run lead in its second innings. The declaration was made at 229/3 when Vivian was dimissed for 96. The MCC were in trouble at 130/7 at stumps although New Zealand was guilty of leaving itself too little time to take a win.
Ced Elmes only played four matches for New Zealand, all of them in this series, and he had the disappointment of being out for 99 in New Zealand's first innings of 368. The MCC replied with 435 and the game petered out to a tame draw with New Zealand 128/3 in their second innings.
The MCC got into some strife when batting first at Lancaster Park. They were 97/6 before some steel was applied to the innings. Alby Roberts (3/33) and Denis Blundell (2/13) did the early damage and Bernie Griffiths tidied up the tail for (4/60) as MCC were all out for 195.
Kerr scored his second century of the series with 132 as New Zealand scored 334. But again the game ended in a draw, this time as the result of rain throughout the rest day and no play being possible on the last day. The series was most notable for introducing players like Jack Cowie, Walter Hadlee and Merv Wallace to international play.