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Selfless Hadlee makes incredible effort to miss out on making history

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Last updated on 09 Nov 2023 | 06:46 AM
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Selfless Hadlee makes incredible effort to miss out on making history

On this day in 1985, a selfless Hadlee denied himself ten wickets in an innings, throwing himself to give Vaughan Brown his first Test wicket

While modern cricket is brimming with all-rounders of all qualities at the moment, the 1980s were different. With specialized cricketers being picked ahead of the bits and pieces players regularly back then, the only quartet of genuine all-rounders were heavily prized - like gold. 

Kapil Dev, Imran Khan, Ian Botham and Richard Hadlee were the most revered all-rounders back then, and none of their respective teams depended upon them as desperately as New Zealand did on Hadlee. 

Not only was Hadlee the first player to take 400 wickets while manning the batting responsibilities of the Kiwis down the order, but he did all that while being selfless wherever possible. The prime example of that was during New Zealand’s tour of Australia in 1985 while playing the Trans-Tasman Trophy.

The Aussies had been on a horrible Test run before this series, losing to West Indies and England to remain winless the entire 1984 calendar year. A home series against neighbours New Zealand was scheduled to get the hosts back on track, as the Kiwis had never won against Australia before.

However, the series started with a thumping loss for the Australians on the back of tremendous displays by the likes of Martin Crowe and John Reid, but none more important than Hadlee. The all-rounder was in stupendous form throughout the year, taking 31 wickets across two series against West Indies and Pakistan. Little did he know that his best was to come against giants Australia on the Brisbane turf.

New Zealand skipper Jeremy Coney opted to field first owing to the overcast conditions, and his most lethal weapon got down to the cause from just the second ball, as opener Andrew Hilditch was caught by Ewen Chatfield while attempting a hook. David Boon came next to forge a 69-run stand alongside Kepler Wessels, but just when the duo was looking dangerous, Hadlee got Boon caught at slip at 31. 

Captain Allan Border was reduced to a mere passenger as he struck the ball straight to Bruce Edgar standing at cover immediately after lunch. Greg Ritchie didn’t last long, reducing the hosts to 82/4. Day 1 ended with Wessels holding one end alongside Wayne Phillips, with the scoreboard reading 146/4.

November 9, 1985, started with Hadlee trapping the dangerous-looking Wessels’ leg before the wicket and the lower order crumbled like a house of cards thereafter. Wicket-keeper Wayne Phillips and Greg Matthews saw their stumps uprooted by the Kiwi Express while Craig McDermott was caught.

Geoff Lawson and Dave Gilbert were batting with Australia at 175/8 and Hadlee already had eight wickets to his name. The all-rounder had the glorious chance of taking all 10 wickets in a single innings and creating history, but when Geoff Lawson lobbed a shot off Vaughan Brown’s delivery, Hadlee took a brilliant running catch to send the batsman to the pavilion, thus ending his chance of taking all 10 wickets. 

He would later take Bob Holland’s wicket to end at 9/52 in 23.4 overs as Australia were wrapped up for 179 runs. Hadlee later revealed, “Some people walked up and asked me why I didn’t drop the catch. But I said to them that the game of cricket is not like that. You take every opportunity you get. And it was significant for Vaughan Brown as well because that was his first ever Test wicket.”

New Zealand would end their first innings with 553 runs before wrapping Australia for 333 in the second innings and winning the match by an innings and 41 runs. Hadlee took six wickets in his second dig to end with 15 wickets in that game.

Though Australia had levelled the series by winning the second Test, New Zealand would go on to win the final match to get their first-ever series win over Australia. Hadlee ended that series with 33 wickets.

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