The Kiwis Are Coming:
The Epic Run Chase Of '73

Comment and Analysis | 23rd January 2013

The first time that I saw New Zealand play live was in the 1973 Test match against England at Trent Bridge, the first in a 3-match series.

I don’t exactly remember which days I attended but seem to think I saw three of the five days, including a thrilling climax which almost created a bit of history.

Fourth innings run chases, as we all know, have historically proved very difficult over the years. In this particular contest the Kiwi’s were set an unlikely 479 to win and came up just short, losing by only 30 runs.

England had dominated proceedings, despite making just 250 in the first innings of the match. Winning the toss, Ray Illingworth opted to bat and saw his openers put on 92.

"Bevan Congdon batted superbly to register his highest Test score, of 176."

Geoff Boycott’s 51 was the top-score of the innings and with partner Dennis Amiss making 42 England were in a strong position before subsiding meekly.

The only other stand of substance was for the final wicket, with Alan Knott (49) and Norman Gifford (25 not out) adding 59 to take the innings into the second morning.

Richard Hadlee failed to get amongst the wickets on a surface that he’d enjoy great success on in later years but his elder brother Dayle finished with figures of 4-42.

New Zealand didn’t make much of a fist of things on day two and were skittled out for just 97 in 41.4 overs – with Extras, on 20, leading the way. Only three bowlers were used, with Tony Greig taking 4-33, John Snow 3-21 and Geoff Arnold 2-23.

If ever there was a lob-sided scorecard it was shown in England’s second innings. Seven of the first nine batsmen failed to reach double figure scores. In fact the other two didn’t end with double figures either, as both Amiss and Greig made centuries.

They shared in a stand of 210 for the fifth wicket and by the time Illingworth declared, at 325-8, England were seemingly well out of sight, 478 ahead.

Glenn Turner and John Parker, two of the tourists main hopes, both fell cheaply to leave their side at 56-2 at stumps on the third day.

Thoughts of England wrapping things up with a day to spare were put on hold by the opposing captain. Bevan Congdon batted superbly to register his highest Test score, of 176.

When Congdon fell in the final session, the mantle was taken up by Vic Pollard who kept the game interesting by reaching stumps on 74 out of a score of 317-5.

Needing a further 162 New Zealand began the last day with just a sniff of producing a sensational outcome. Pollard reached his first ton in 56 Test innings but when he fell for 116, at 414-7, there was just too much to do for the tail and they came up just short.

Arnold led the attack well, bowling 53 overs to claim a deserved 5-131 with Greig collecting three more wickets, including the final two to fall.

At 3.33 on the final afternoon England celebrated victory, although New Zealand could take plenty of credit for the way they had threatened to snatch an improbable win.

Their total of 440 was then the second-highest fourth innings total in Tests and was the highest of a side not winning.

The full scorecard of the match can be found here.

The next match was drawn at Lord’s and England took the series 2-0 after completing an innings victory at Headingley.

I still recall that 1973 match with great fondness and clarity and I’m sure New Zealand supporters of a similar vintage will look back with pride at how close their side came to the unthinkable.

Forty years later – almost to the day – the Black Caps will be back at Trent Bridge for a NatWest Series One Day International 5 June 2013 and match tickets are now on general sale.

TICKET INFORMATION
England V New Zealand - Wednesday 5 June 2013, 2pm
Adult tickets from £35
All under 21s £20
All under 16s £10
Call 0844 8118711 or click here to buy online.

Dave Bracegirdle provides ball-by-ball commentary on all of Nottinghamshire's LV= County Championship matches on behalf of BBC Radio Nottingham.

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