Hadlee’s world test record: 30 years later

New Zealand’s finest crick­eter is cel­e­brat­ing a spe­cial mile­stone. MARK GEENTY re­ports.

Sunday Star-Times - - SPORT -

Aweary, eu­phoric Richard Hadlee sat in the Chin­naswamy Sta­dium dress­ing room; bat­tered cricket ball in one hand, bot­tle of bub­bly in the other. Hadlee beamed as he sat atop his crick­et­ing Ever­est in Ban­ga­lore.

It was November 12, 1988, and the world record was fi­nally his, hav­ing passed Ian Botham’s haul of 373 test wick­ets. He would re­main on that lofty perch un­til 1994, nearly four years af­ter his re­tire­ment when Kapil Dev topped his fi­nal tally of 431.

‘‘To be a pace­set­ter, and a New Zealan­der to do it which was un­heard of, and to man­age to hang onto it for an­other five or so years — to be the one for oth­ers to chase was sig­nif­i­cant in my ca­reer,’’ Hadlee re­called.

It was only part one of the story of a remarkable cricket test. Un­able to field 11 play­ers when the whole team ex­cept Ian Smith were flat­tened by ill­ness af­ter an official func­tion, they sum­moned ra­dio com­men­ta­tor and for­mer skip­per Jeremy Coney and TV re­porter Ken Ni­chol­son to don the whites. Hadlee and Chris Kuggeleijn, catcher of the world record wicket of Arun Lal, were barely able to stand, but they played on.

Thirty years on, he’s felt a lot bet­ter, Sir Richard, but re­mains sharp and up­beat on the phone from his Christchurch home.

Hav­ing been through two can­cer surg­eries this year and still un­der­go­ing chemo­ther­apy, our great­est crick­eter prefers not to dis­cuss his health, but ac­cepts an in­vi­ta­tion to walk down mem­ory lane to Ban­ga­lore.

In 1988 ex­pec­ta­tion had built to fever pitch. Hadlee took his 373rd wicket, Aus­tralian Tony Dode­maide, the pre­vi­ous December be­fore bat­ting bunny Mike Whit­ney de­nied New Zealand a test vic­tory, and Hadlee his 374th, in an epic Boxing Day test at the MCG.

Then Eng­land toured in Fe­bru­ary and a big home crowd at Lan­caster Park was si­lenced. Hadlee hob­bled off just be­fore tea on day one of the first test, wick­et­less, af­ter suf­fer­ing a calf strain, his se­ries over. He felt he’d failed.

Hadlee also vowed never to re­turn to In­dia af­ter a hor­ror first visit in 1976. He says now: ‘‘Re­gret­table com­ments to make. When you’re on your first tour and you find it dif­fi­cult and you’re sick for half the tour you think it’s not a place you want to re­turn to. With time at­ti­tudes change.’’

Af­ter toil­ing through a Christchurch win­ter to re­gain full fit­ness, Hadlee was on the plane un­der cap­tain John Wright and coach Bob Cu­nis.

It started well: Hadlee tore through West Zone at Ra­jkot and took 9-55, eerily close to those mag­i­cal test fig­ures of 9-52 from Bris­bane three years ear­lier.

‘‘John Bracewell got the other one. There were a fair num­ber of lbw de­ci­sions in my favour which was a sur­prise. The um­pire was P D Re­porter and in the test se­ries I don’t think I got one out of him.’’

Hadlee had never been to Chin­naswamy Sta­dium, but found pho­to­graphs and vi­su­alised In­dian opener Kris Srikkanth in his crouched stance, wear­ing a blue hel­met, go­ing af­ter him and edg­ing be­hind to Smith for the record. ‘‘We prac­ticed there and I got used to the sur­round­ings, a big sta­dium, a lovely ground. We lost the toss and bowled first, and all my vi­su­al­i­sa­tion and dreams were shat­tered when Srikkanth walked out to bat in a white hel­met, which up­set me a bit. There was an­other bats­man walk­ing out who I’d hardly heard of, Arun Lal, a diminu­tive fel­low, and I bowled an un­tidy first over.’’

Hadlee was, and still is, revered in In­dia and a big crowd was in, with thou­sands more out­side re­act­ing to roars they heard from in­side.

Smith told him to pitch the ball up more and in Hadlee’s third over the English Dukes ball found Lal’s edge at com­fort­able knee height to test debu­tant Kuggeleijn at third slip.

Back in New Zealand there was no live TV coverage and Bryan Wad­dle’s ra­dio com­men­tary down a crackly line cap­tured the mo­ment. ‘‘The Rolls Royce of fast bowlers opens a new page in cricket his­tory,’’ is the line that stands out for Hadlee.

He’d done it. Hadlee waved to the crowd and skit­tled Srikkanth soon af­ter­wards for No 375. In­dia were 243-3 at stumps and the dress­ing room cel­e­bra­tions be­gan.

‘‘It was sheer de­light and re­lief. This wicket had been con­tem­plated for so long, it was there for the taking and all of a sud­den it be­came a re­al­ity. All the play­ers gath­ered around and con­grat­u­lated me, my wife at the time, Karen, was there at the ground.

‘‘I got tied up in the eupho­ria of the whole thing but the key point was it was done quickly and we got on with the game. But we got beaten.’’

And they got ill. Very ill.

Kuggeleijn was 32 and sur­prised to be picked in the test squad for In­dia.

‘‘I was more a one-day player and I’d gone OK, but if they were pick­ing a test side I prob­a­bly wouldn’t have got in it. Martin Crowe was crook so I ended up play­ing test cricket which I didn’t think I was go­ing to.’’

A key mem­ber of the so­cial com­mit­tee, and a good fielder, Kuggeleijn quipped those two fac­tors sealed his spot.

So he crouched at third slip on a bril­liantly fine Ban­ga­lore day, com­plet­ing a cor­don of Smith, Mark Great­batch and Bracewell, won­der­ing who would be part of the great fast bowler’s mile­stone.

‘‘I wasn’t sit­ting there think­ing ‘I hope he nicks it to me’, I was just hop­ing like hell that if some­thing came near me I’d catch it,’’ Kuggeleijn said.

‘‘It came at a nice height and a nice speed, and most third graders would have caught it.’’

But the more vivid mem­o­ries for Kuggeleijn are of what hap­pened next. On the night be­fore the rest day the team were in­vited to a ban­quet, as Wright later de­scribed it: ‘‘the chance to meet a thou­sand or so lo­cal cricket ad­min­is­tra­tors in a room the size of a lift’’.

At 2am, Kuggeleijn woke in an aw­ful state. It got worse and he says he lost 7kg in four days.

‘‘Richard and I just couldn’t go to the ground. Hon­estly, I was just in the bath be­cause it was com­ing out ei­ther end at speed. Some lit­tle In­dian man was ram­ming nee­dles into me try­ing to stop it.

‘‘We had to go out and bat so we got in a tuk-tuk and I was de­scribed as ‘the ghostly Kuggeleijn’. My first ball in test cricket I just re­mem­ber Kapil Dev run­ning in and I tried to hit it, it hit me on the pad and that was me gone. It was back to the hutch and back to sleep.’’

Kuggeleijn bat­ted be­low Ewen Chat­field at No 11 then Hadlee, who’d been not out overnight, re­turned to the crease with New Zealand still two runs short of avoid­ing the fol­low-on.

Said Hadlee: ‘‘I didn’t know where I was; I didn’t even walk to crease, I walked more to where the um­pire was stand­ing. I was so far off course. It might have been Kapil who helped me get to the right place to take guard.

‘‘Char­lie Chat­field squirted one down to third man and ran all the way to my end and I was on my haunches, he ran all the way back and ran two for noth­ing. He was pretty an­noyed be­cause runs to him were like hens’ teeth.

‘‘We were three or four runs short and Kapil bowled to me and I slashed at one which went for four and we got across the line. We did what we had to.’’

Ken Ni­chol­son was a handy seamer who played 20 years for South­land, and one first-class match for Otago, as he be­gan a me­dia ca­reer.

He struck up a friend­ship with Cu­nis play­ing Hawke Cup cricket and when he was sent to In­dia to cover Hadlee’s im­pend­ing record for TVNZ, the coach told Ni­chol­son to bring his boots as a net bowler. On day four in Ban­ga­lore he was re­quired for more than net bowl­ing.

‘‘Cuni rang me up about 6am and said ‘you know those boots, could you bring them to the ground’,’’ Ni­chol­son re­called.

‘‘I walked along to see Cuni in the ho­tel we were stay­ing and there were big crosses on the doors not

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.