Richard Hadlee

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Richard Hadlee : biography

3 July 1951 –

In 1979/80, New Zealand faced the West Indies in a home test series at a time when the West Indies were a formidable world cricket power. In the first test in Dunedin New Zealand achieved a shock 1-wicket win, thanks in no small part to Hadlee’s 11 wickets in the game. In the second test of the series, Hadlee recorded his maiden test century, helping New Zealand draw the test and win the series 1–0. The result was the start of a 12 year unbeaten home record for New Zealand in test match series. He was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 1980 Queen’s Birthday Honours.

A tour to England in 1983 saw New Zealand register their first ever test win on English soil, at Headingley. The match was remarkable for Hadlee’s match return of 0 for 89, a very unusual occurrence in a New Zealand victory during his career. England eventually won the 4 test series 3–1, however Hadlee topped both batting and bowling averages for New Zealand in the series, and took his 200th test wicket in the final test at Nottingham. In the return test series in New Zealand in 1984, New Zealand completed a remarkable 3 day innings victory (including one day lost to rain) over England at Christchurch, in which England were dismissed for less than 100 in both of their innings. The match was also notable for Hadlee’s superb all round performance – he took 8 wickets in the match, and scored a rapid-fire 99 in New Zealand’s only innings.

1985/86 brought on a period in which Hadlee developed from a very good fast bowler to a truly great one. In New Zealand’s tour to Australia, an outstanding all-round performance helped destroy the home team in the first test at Brisbane, beginning with a personal test best 9 for 52 in Australia’s first innings. A batting effort of 54 (to complement a fine 188 by Martin Crowe) combined with 6 more wickets in Australia’s second innings, helped New Zealand to a crushing innings victory. Hadlee followed this up with 7 wickets in a loss in the second test, and 11 wickets in a New Zealand victory in the third test, giving his country their first series win on Australian soil and a personal haul of 33 wickets in 3 tests. In the first test of the return series in New Zealand, Hadlee took his 300th test wicket by trapping Australian captain Allan Border LBW. The series was eventually won 1–0 by New Zealand by way of a victory in the third test at Eden Park.

In 1986 Hadlee helped New Zealand to a 1–0 series win in England, their first over that country in England. Hadlee’s outstanding personal performance in the second test at Nottingham (his county ‘home’) where he took 10 wickets and scored 68 in New Zealand’s first innings powered his team to victory. In this test Hadlee, often a controversial character, added to this side of his reputation when he felled (and hospitalised) England wicketkeeper and Nottinghampshire teammate Bruce French with a nasty bouncer. During the New Zealand v West Indies test at Christchurch in March 1987, Hadlee and captain Jeremy Coney had a disagreement in the dressing room prior to the game. It progressed to not talking to each other on the field, communicating through John Wright at mid-on.

In April 1987, New Zealand traveled to Sri Lanka where Hadlee recorded his second test century. His 151 not out in the first test helped New Zealand to save the game, however the tour was unfortunately cut short due to a bomb exploding near the New Zealand team’s hotel in Colombo. The terrorist bomb responsible for killing 113 civilians was planted by the Tamil Tigers separatist movement and was not seen to be targeted towards the touring New Zealand cricket team. However, the team voted overwhelmingly to return home after that one test of the scheduled three test tour.

Hadlee’s appetite for competition against Australia surfaced again in 1987/88, when in the third test of a 3 match series in Australia he captured 10 wickets and nearly inspired New Zealand to an unlikely series equaling victory. The test ended with Australia’s number eleven batsman Michael Whitney surviving a torrid last over bowled by an exhausted Hadlee. A wicket in that over would have given New Zealand victory, and Hadlee a world record 374th test wicket, breaking current holder Ian Botham’s record. In the following home series against England, the New Zealand public eagerly anticipated the wicket which would give Hadlee sole possession of the world record. However, Hadlee broke down injured on the first day of the first test, and was forced to sit out the rest of the series. At an awards dinner at the end of the season, Australian commentator Richie Benaud, upon seeing Hadlee hobble up to the stage on crutches, said later that he thought Hadlee "would never play cricket again."