Almanac Cricket: Across The Ditch

 

Our cricketers, Australian men that is, are heading off to tour Aotearoa (aka New Zealand) soon. Fifty years ago, we also toured there for a Test series, and I’ll have a quick look at aspects of that tour.

Australian cricket teams have toured Aotearoa since early 1878. However, we first played New Zealand in a Test match in March 1946.  The match was held in Wellington, though only lasted two days. The Australians, despite managing a piddly 8-199 declared, rolled over the home side for 42, then 54.  However, we did not meet in a Test again until that summer of 1973-74.  New Zealand toured Australia for their first ever Tests on Australian soil, we then returned the compliment.

We won the home series 2-0, though rain saved us in Sydney during the Second Test. Then we went across the ditch for a three-Test series that I’ll touch upon below…

The Australian touring squad was: Ian Chappell (captain), Greg Chappell, Keith Stackpole, Ian Redpath, Doug Walters, Ashley Woodcock, Ian Davis, Rod Marsh, Gary Gilmour, Max Walker, Geoff Dymock, Ray Bright, Kerry O’Keefe, also Ashley Mallet.

An interesting absence was the Victorian batsman Paul Sheehan, who in his youth had been anointed for great things by then Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies. Sheehan never reached those esteemed heights, although he still played 31 Tests. Sheehan’s last Test was in the drawn Second Test against New Zealand in Sydney, scoring 7 & 14 NO. He chose not to tour New Zealand, focussing on his career teaching in the private school system. A career that took him to the upper echelons of his field, something that paid him a very healthy wage, which was not the reality of cricketing incomes back then. This was a time when players worked ’real jobs’, often being financially disadvantaged when playing for their nation. There were no multi-million-dollar cricket contracts then. Roll on World Series Cricket.

Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is) games weren’t anywhere near the cricketing radar back in early 1974. Even the One Day Internationals (ODIs) were in their infancy, as Australia warmed up for the Test series playing regional sides who competed in the Plunket Shield – the NZ equivalent of our Sheffield Shield.

Television? The modern version of cricket is very much designed for television audiences, but back in 1973-74 I can’t recall any footage of the tour. I don’t even remember highlights on the news, though there may have been. My first memory of seeing matches played across the ditch would have been watching ODIs during our 1981-82 tour.

The opening Test was at the Basin Reserve in Wellington, and it was a run feast.  Australia won the toss and batted on a featherbed pitch, totalling 6-511 declared. In Australia’s second innings the runs continued flowing. The Chappell brothers feasted on the bowling, Greg undefeated on 247 first up, followed by 133. The 380 runs he scored in this Test was the highest amount of runs a player had scored in a Test until then. With brother Ian scoring 145 & 121, it was only the second time ever that brothers had scored a century in each innings of a first-class match. The previous occasion being back in 1899 when the Foster brothers, RE &WL, scored centuries for Worcester vs Hampshire.

New Zealand also found runs easy to get. They only batted once, tallying 484 with Captain Bevan Congdon leading the way with 132. His 132 included his part in a 229 run fourth wicket stand with Brian Hastings who complied a neat 101.  Congdon certainly led from the front, picking up 3-60 with the ball when Australia batted again, as the match petered out to a high scoring draw.

History was made in the Second Test in Christchurch when the home side beat Australia for the first time in a Test. The winning runs were hit 92 minutes into the final day by New Zealand wicket-keeper Ken Wadsworth. Ken Wadsworth was a fine competitor, but his career was tragically cut short a few years later. Wadsworth was a sad loss to cricket, dying from an aggressive melanoma on August 19, 1976, aged only 29.

The match at Lancaster Park started well for the home side as Australia lost its first wicket with only 8 on the board. New Zealand knocked over Australia cheaply, this being in stark contrast to the previous Test. New Zealand captain Bevan Congdon again proving worthy of his mettle having figures of 3-33 as Australia struggled to 223. Ian Redpath made a gritty 71 helping Australia reach their final tally. A fair few less runs than in Wellington, could the bowlers restrict the home side? The bowling did well, led by Max Walker with 4-60, but steady batting saw the home side gain a lead of 32, opener Glenn Turner leading the way with 101. Rod Marsh kept well, snaring five catches.

Australia then failed to set a challenging target being all out for 259. Ian Redpath again top scored for Australia with support from Ian Davis and Doug Walters, both bringing up half centuries though there wasn’t much after that. The not yet knighted Richard Hadlee took the bowling honours with 4-71. That gave him seven wickets in the match, as well as making 23 in the first innings, New Zealand’s third highest score.  Glenn Turner, with an undefeated 110 in the second innings, provided a hurdle Australia could not overcome. With the leg spinner Kerry O’Keefe not bowling in the match Australia were disadvantaged.

Australia had to regain ground as in the Third, and final, Test at Auckland’s Eden Park they  sought to level the series.  New Zealand winning the toss sent the Australians in. The home side’s bowlers had first use of a lively pitch, ripping through the Australian upper order. One of those dismissed was the veteran Keith Stackpole, this his final Test. Stackpole was dismissed off the first ball of the match, another duck followed in the second innings, his illustrious career finishing with a pair. On the first day Australia was in a parlous state at 4-37, then 5-64, three of the top five scoring ducks: cometh the hour, cometh the man, Doug Walters strode to the crease to score an undefeated 104 of the 174 runs while he was at the crease.  Was Australia’s 221 enough to give the bowlers something to work with?

After this, the home side were bowled out for 112.  Glenn Turner continued to test the Australian his 41 one of only three double-figure scores in their low total. Gary Gilmour with 5-64 led the wicket takers, Australia only requiring three bowlers in the innings. Australia did better in their second knock led by Ian Redpath, the veteran Victorian carrying his bat for 159 in a score of 346, setting New Zealand a hefty tally to chase.  The home side started well with Glenn Turner and John Parker putting on 107 for the first wicket. Once this pair was separated, the Australians ran through the rest of the batting order dismissing New Zealand for 158, Australia winning by 297 runs.

After the Tests, there were two ODIs, Australia winning both. The opening match at Dunedin saw both sides lose their first wicket without a run on the board. For the home side Peter Coman had his stumps rattled by ‘Gus‘ Gilmour with the score on zero.  Peter Coman only played the three ODIs, though on his debut against Pakistan in 1973 he was the first New Zealander to face a ball in an ODI. After Comans’ duck in this match, Australia followed suit. Ian Redpath, after carrying his bat in the final innings of the test series, was run out without scoring. Both captains top-scored in Dunedin, Bevan Congdon making 82 in a tally of 9-194, Ian Chappell following that with 83, Australia winning with 10.3 overs to spare.

The second ODI was also played in the South Island, this one in Christchurch. Australia knocked up 5-265, with Ian Chappell again top scoring with a hard-hitting 86. Brother Greg chipped in with 75,  as Ashley Woodcock compiled a handy 53. This was his only ODI, adding to his sole Test being in the Adelaide Test against New Zealand during the Australian season. The home side replied with 6-234 as Ken Wadsworth scored 104, helping his side to a competitive score.  Though New Zealand obtained their first ever Test victory against Australia during this 1974 tour, such was the irregular nature of cricket  between the two nations their first ODI win over Australia did not come until November 23, 1980.

Looking back at the ODIs Australia played on this tour it was so different to what you’d see nowadays. There are no ODIs on the upcoming tour, though there are three T20s. Back in 1974 there were no coloured clothes. Day-night matches were a few years in the future.  These matches then were played over 35, eight ball overs, six ball overs not being the absolute norm in Southern hemisphere cricket back then. Australia, and New Zealand, then followed along with the six ball overs, this coming after WSC. Since 1979-80 we have used six ball overs ‘Down Under’.

For readers interested in that tour, in the cricket played, the following links are handy:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_cricket_team_in_New_Zealand_in_1973%E2%80%9374

https://www.espncricinfo.com/series/australia-tour-of-new-zealand-1973-74-61411

Fifty years sees a lot of change. Sadly a few of the players from this series are no longer with us. I’ve mentioned the tragic early loss of New Zealand wicket keeper Ken Wadsworth. His Captain, Bevan Congdon, as well as teammate Hedley Howarth, have both left us. For the Australians Max Walker, Gary Gilmour, Rod Marsh, and Asley Mallet have all departed.

Anyhow, our next tour of New Zealand beckons soon, kicking off with a T20I match in Wellington on Wednesday 21/2/24.  The T20Is are followed by Tests in Wellington and Christchurch. It is very hard to describe two Tests as a series, more so it’s a contractual obligation. The cricket landscape has changed immensely in the last fifty years, with what was long considered the crowning form of cricket, Test cricket, seemingly under siege.  Where to from here for Test cricket? The future is unwritten.

Glen!

 

 

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Comments

  1. Interesting facts and observations on the history of trans-Tasman cricket. I continue to be surprised how little Test cricket is played between the two nations.

    “Cometh the hour, cometh the man” – KD Walters enjoyed the NZ pitches. On the next tour (1977) he belted 250 at Christchurch in the first of two tests. I remember listening to that series on the radio.

    Great research Glen.

  2. I was at that Eden Park test, as a young feller. It was my introduction to test cricket. Great memories of the 2 or 3 days I saw with my father.

    I seem to remember the chants for “Hadlee” were more for the older brother Dayle, who was better known at the time. (But what would I know, I was only ten.)

    But it did seem like Ian Redpath could bat forever. We wondered why we never saw him again?

  3. Karl Dubravs says

    Great article Glen!
    Being in my mid 60’s, I still get a tingle when names like Stackpole, Redpath, Walters are gathered together.

  4. Malcolm Rulebook Ashwood says

    Thanks Glen I felt Ashley Woodcock was extremely unlucky and hard done by to end up in the one test match club – remember as a 11 year old the Chappells huge runs fondly – thank you

  5. Ian Redpath was my childhood cricket hero – we had the same first name so that was enough for me. He made 97 on debut against South Africa.

    As a teenager and then into my 20s, I realised what an important part Redders played for Australia over the years, batting anywhere from 1 to 6 (even 7?) – depending on what gap needed to be filled. He may not have been the most exciting player but he was Mr Reliable. And a very good close to the wicket fieldsman.

    Everyone remembers Greg Chappell’s debut century. At the other end was one I Redpath who made a handy 177 (if my memory serves me well).

    Also played amateur footy for Victoria.

    Handy alright!

  6. Thanks Chaps, yes Ian Redpath, and Ashley Woodcock, two openers from another era.

    I saw a fair bit of Ian Redpath on TV, though the only time I actually saw him play was the final test of the 1975-76 season against the Windies. In this he scored 101, & 70, a fine way to finish a lengthy test career. Yes he played a few WSC games but it was his versatility, and courage, in the test arena that won him so much admiration.

    Ian, he scored 171 in the test at the WACA when Greg Chappell made his debut way back in late 1970.

    Malcolm, Ashley Woodcock, seems one of those chaps who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Only two matches in the ‘Baggy Green’,both times a winner.

    He always seemed good for South Australia when Australia had names like Stackpole, Redpath,McCosker and Turner in line for an opening berth. However when those blokes moved on his form also went off the boil. I thought at the time he may open in the WSC era but I reckon that’s when he lost his spot in the South Australian side. Oh well, he has a perfect record playing for Australia.

    Glen!

  7. Barry Milton Nicholls says

    That’s a terrific piece, Glen. I’m currently exploring this ear of Australian cricket. I found a video on YouTube on the Test where Turner scored big runs.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLB0a2RzOEQ

  8. Great work Glen
    I think Greg Chappell has a book on this tour .
    If not this tour it was another in the 1970s

  9. Great work Glen.

    Yes NZ a bit unlucky not to have won in Sydney during their visit earlier in the summer. Centuries to the John’s Parker and Morrison in the absence of Glen Turner who I think broke a finger in the tour match at the MCG. Nasty Alan Hurst delivery? I imagining this?

    A P Sheahan was not out in his final test match inning and had a pair of “red inks” in what proved to be the Sheffield Shield clinching win at the SCG in January. He and Robert Rose were at the crease when the 170 set for victory was passed.

    50th anniversary of Robert Rose’s career ending accident last Wednesday. Very sad times.

    Whilst the national broadcaster didn’t cover the series across the ditch it did cover the 73-74 District Final the same weekend of the Auckland test.

    Keep up the excellent work my good man.

    MCR

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