Almanac Cricket History – Australia v New Zealand Tests at the MCG



The 2019 Boxing Day Test is just a week away. It’s one of those iconic dates on the Australian sporting calendar – a bit like the last Saturday in September, the first Tuesday in November, Bathurst.


It’s incredible to think that of the 18 times that Australia and New Zealand have faced off in Test matches in Australia, only three (yes, that’s 3) of those matches have been at the MCG. And the last of those was 32 years ago! What may be even more telling is that they have met only twice in Sydney, most recently 34 years ago. What do these figures tell us about the way Australian cricket authorities have weighed up the significance/importance/value of clashes with our cousins from across The Ditch over the years? I’ll leave that for you to figure out.


Here’s a trip down Memory Lane to revisit those three encounters, at least one of which has a place in cricket folklore when a draw for the home side seemed as good as a victory. More on that later.


We start back in the 1973/4 season with the First Test of that series. Australia batted first and racked up 8/462 (dec) built around Keith Stackpole’s 122 and half-centuries to Doug Walters, the Chappell brothers and Gary Gilmour. Dayle Hadlee outshone his most illustrious brother to take the figures with 4/102. New Zealand replied with only 237 of which Ken Wadsworth contributed 80 (Gilmour 4/75). Forced to follow on by the dominant Aussies, New Zealand managed only 200 with Dayle Hadlee top scoring with 37 batting at number eight. Ashley Mallett, Walters and Kerry O’Keefe shared the wickets. A comprehensive win to the locals.  See the full scorecard here.


On Boxing Day 1980, the two teams were back at the ‘G’ for the Third Test of that season’s series. Australia started with 321 of which Doug Walters made 107 and Kim Hughes 51. Richard Hadlee and Jeremy Coney each took three wickets. The Kiwis replied with 317 in which Geoff Howarth, John Parker and Coney all made half-centuries. A tight scoreboard with lots to play for. The second time around, Australia scratched out a modest 188 in 87 overs, Greg Chappell leading the way with 78 while Richard Hadlee took 6/57. Chasing only 193, New Zealand were off to a good start and reached 1/95, then a clatter of wickets saw them reduced to 6/121 before time beat both teams and the match ended in a draw. Hadlee’s nine wickets earned him Man of the Match honours. See the full scorecard here.


The 1987 Boxing Day Test is probably the best remembered of the MCG clashes between these two teams with images of the final over a part of Trans-Tasman folklore. New Zealand batted first and compiled 317 of which John Wright made 99 and Martin Crowe 82. Craig McDermott and Mike Whitney took five and four wickets respectively. Australia replied with 357 built around Peter ‘Sounda’ Sleep with 90, Steve Waugh 55 and Tony Dodemaide 50. Richard Hadlee took 5/109. New Zealand countered with 286 in an even team performance around Crowe’s 79. Dodemaide starred with the ball taking 6/58. Set 247 to win, the Australians always seemed behind what was required as Hadlee (5/67) sliced through them again. It became a question of survival. At 9/227 with five overs to go and Hadlee at the peak of his powers, Craig McDermott and Mike Whitney had it all before them. Hadlee bowled the last over to batting bunny Whitney. Somehow Whitney kept Hadlee (and New Zealand) at bay to ensure a draw. Perhaps it was Whitney’s greatest moment as a batsman – 2* off 18 balls! The Aussies celebrated as if they had won the match; the Kiwis, who deserved to win, probably felt as if they had lost the game. See the full scorecard here.


And so we come the the last home Test match for 2019. Australia leads the current series after its dominant win in Perth. But they’ve lost Hazlewood to injury; New Zealand regains Trent Boult; neither batting line-up is convincing; the wicket is anyone’s guess. Ranked No. 2 Test team in the world, New Zealand deserve to play the next two matches at the top-ranked Australian grounds, the MCG and the SCG. Here’s the chance to show their wares on the biggest stages we can offer them.




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Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.



About Ian Hauser

A relaxed, Noosa-based retiree with a (very) modest sporting CV. A loyal Queenslander, especially when it comes to cricket and rugby league. Enjoys travel, coffee and cake, reading, and has been known to appreciate a glass or three of wine. One of Footy Almanac's online editors who enjoys the occasional editing opportunity to assist aspiring writers.


  1. SO, I’ve been to a third of them! I’m surprised it’s so few.

  2. The other fast bowling DK, Morrison remains among my favourite cricketers. Loved watching him bowl. He presented as one you’d prefer on your team. Thanks Ian.

  3. Great stuff Ian. I think that 87/88 test was Dodemaide’s debut. The reason the Aussies celebrated like they had won was because the draw meant they had won the series 1-0, a rare Test series win for Allan Border’s men at the time (they had captured the ODI World Cup the previous month).

  4. Luke Reynolds says

    I actually find that we have only played New Zealand in 18 Test matches in Australia a more incredible stat than meeting just 3 times at the MCG.
    Really looking forward to seeing the Blackcaps in a Test for the first time later this week!

  5. Happy 2020 CE, Ian.

    Tom Blundell’s ton was the first by a Kiwi in a test at the G. Wright ‘s 99 in the 1987-88 test match was their previous highest.

    In the same match Peter Sleep scored 90 for Australia, his highest test score.

    DB, didn’t Dodemaide have a great debut in that 1987-88 test match ? His 6-58 in the second innings gave him seven for the match. He also contributed with a 50 in his first test innings.


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