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Best of the Tests: Windies in New Zealand


New_Zealand_West_Indies_CricketThe Black Caps are known to be tough nuts in home conditions, as touring sides from the Caribbean have learnt well over the years. In 28 Tests in New Zealand, the Windies have won seven times and lost eleven. Four of these victories came in their first two tours of the country, back in 1951-52 and 1955-56 respectively. As another West Indian series in the land of the kiwis plays out, let us look back at seven memorable matches from past Caribbean visits to New Zealand.

New Zealand end a 26-year wait (Fourth Test, Auckland, 1955-56)

It took New Zealand 45 Tests across 26 years to record their first Test victory. The breakthrough moment arrived in the fourth Test against the West Indies at Eden Park in 1955-56. The visitors had already sealed the series coming into this final Test, winning the first three games by handsome margins. Kiwi skipper John Reid compiled 84, before getting out hit wicket to Jamaican fast bowler David Dewdney (5/21), helping New Zealand recover from an unsteady 87/4 to 255.

The West Indies mustered just 145 in reply, thanks to pacemen Anthony MacGibbon (4/44) and Harry Cave (4/22), with only opener Hammond Furlonge (64) showing substance. Denis Atkinson took 7/53 in the second essay to give the visitors hope, but his efforts went in vain as the Windies batsmen capitulated to 22/6 in the face of a 268-run target, eventually getting bundled out for 77. Cave collected another four wickets to star with returns of 8/43 in his nation’s maiden triumph.     

Nurse shepherds a record chase (First Test, Auckland, 1968-69)

New Zealand were stopped in their tracks by Seymour Nurse, who was playing his last series. Bob Taylor’s 124 from number eight carried the hosts from 152/6 to 323, before the bowlers eked out a 47-run lead. Graham Dowling declared early on the final (fourth) day, setting the West Indies 345. Nurse, batting at number three, rose to the occasion and scored a stroke-filled 168, paving the way for a five-wicket win, then the highest successful chase by the West Indies.   

Controversy at Carisbrook (First Test, Dunedin, 1979-80)

Coming off a 2-0 success in a three-match series in Australia, Clive Lloyd’s West Indies endured an unsavoury reversal across the Tasman Sea. A spate of controversial incidents overshadowed New Zealand’s first home series win, as the visitors made no secret of their displeasure at the umpires’ decision-making. After electing to bat, the West Indies slipped to 4/3 against the peerless Richard Hadlee (5/34), and despite Desmond Haynes’ 55, could manage only 140.

New Zealand took a lead of 109, courtesy of a gutsy 65 from Bruce Edgar and a breezy 51 from Hadlee, following which Haynes (105) and Hadlee (6/68) shone again in the second innings. Geoff Howarth’s side had almost the entire last day to reach the target of 104, but it was easier said than done against the trio of Michael Holding, Colin Croft and Joel Garner. Early in the innings, umpire John Hastie turned down Holding’s appeal to have John Parker caught behind.  

A frustrated Holding walked to the striker’s end and petulantly kicked two of the stumps out of the ground. The relentless pace battery reduced the score to 54/7, before Hadlee and Lance Cairns gathered valuable lower-order runs. The final session began at 95/8. Four runs were still required when last man Stephen Boock joined Gary Troup in the middle. The pair withstood the attack amid rising tension, ultimately sneaking a leg bye to seal a thrilling one-wicket win.      

Kiwis flattened by a captain’s special (Second Test, Wellington, 1994-95)

Courtney Walsh (13/55) produced the best bowling figures by a Test captain as a listless New Zealand were rolled over in the series decider. Jimmy Adams (151) and Brian Lara (147) steered the West Indies to a colossal 660/5, before Walsh captured 7/37 in the first innings. Following on and 444 in arrears, the hosts again ran into the Jamaican, who took another 6/18 to lead his side to victory by an innings and 322 runs. This remains the Windies’ latest Test win in New Zealand.

Calypso collapso (First Test, Hamilton, 1999-00)

Not even the most optimistic of New Zealand’s supporters would have given their team a chance when the West Indies were cruising at 276/0 on the first day at Seddon Park. However, they had reckoned without the visitors’ tendency to implode in remarkable fashion. Brian Lara’s men lost all ten wickets for 87 to be dismissed for 365, neutralising the fantastic platform provided by their Barbadian opening pair of Sherwin Campbell (170) and Adrian Griffith (114).

It only got worse in the second innings. After conceding a narrow lead of 28, the West Indies were blown away by Chris Cairns, who had earlier biffed an entertaining 72 to lend meat to New Zealand’s total. Cairns bagged 7/27 to finish with 10/100 in the Test – both career-best returns. He got rid of Campbell and Shivnarine Chanderpaul without a run on the board, and went on to condemn the Windies to a paltry 97. New Zealand galloped to a nine-wicket win soon after.    

Sinclair arrives with aplomb (Second Test, Wellington, 1999-00)

The second Test of the 1999-00 series saw the debut of promising Central Districts batsman Matthew Sinclair, and he made the big occasion unforgettable by becoming only the fourth man to notch a double hundred in his first Test innings. Sinclair occupied the crease for nearly nine hours in making 214, which was the pillar of New Zealand’s first-innings total of 518/9. The West Indies surrendered meekly, scoring 179 and 234 to go down by an innings and 105 runs.    

Hosts come out on top in a close encounter (First Test, Auckland, 2005-06)

New Zealand pocketed a closely-fought Test that ebbed and flowed throughout. Scott Styris’ counterattacking 103* propelled the hosts from a troublesome 69/4 to 275. In reply, the West Indies lost five for 90, before Ramnaresh Sarwan (62) and Dwayne Bravo (59) ensured that New Zealand’s lead was limited to 18. New Zealand were struggling in their second innings at 146/7, when another lower-order revival came to the fore, this time led by Brendon McCullum (74).

Set 291 to win, the West Indies batted themselves into a position of strength through their opening pair of Chris Gayle (82) and Darren Ganga (95), who put on a stand of 148, before the former’s dismissal to Nathan Astle induced a meltdown. Shane Bond (5/69) got into the act, nailing Sarwan and Lara off consecutive balls, as New Zealand turned the tide. The West Indies failed to claw their way back, and were bowled out 28 runs short of their target early on the fifth day. 


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Rustom Deboo is a cricket aficionado and freelance writer from Mumbai. He is an ardent devotee of T...

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