Richard Hadlee was ‘a champion’ who left ‘nothing to chance’, according to his former international team mate Jeremy Coney.
Speaking on the BBC’s Test Match Special, Coney shared his admiration of the former Nottinghamshire seamer, who was instrumental in a period which saw three trophies delivered to Trent Bridge in the 1980s.
“Richard was a champion, and I don’t use that word lightly,” said Coney.
“You’ve got to have a body of work – it’s never a single masterpiece, a single season, or even three seasons; that is not a legend or a champion to me.
“A champion is someone who has done it time and time again and has a lengthy body of work behind them, and he was one.”
The former Black Caps skipper shared how Hadlee’s commitment to remodelling his bowling was instrumental in allowing him to enjoy a long career at the top of the game.
“He was two bowlers really,” continued Coney.
“The first part of his career, he was running in from a little bit further away and he relied on pace.
“He was a faster bowler at that stage, and he was picking up wickets, but it wasn’t perhaps the economy rate and control he would have liked.
“Then he arrived back in New Zealand from playing for Nottinghamshire, where he was getting quite a lot of success, and he had moved to a much more controlled and rhythmical run-up.
“The second kind of bowler was very much slowed down and was much more accurate, but still had the same amount of threat contained within it.”
Coney also shared his memories of Hadlee’s meticulous pre-game preparations, encapsulated in one training session ahead of a Test match in Wellington.
“Wellington was quite a windy place and he was a bit concerned about his rhythm, so for the practice he would say to me ‘Jeremy I want you to time my run up’,” he said.
“And so I would time him, and he would come past and I would say ‘5.2’ [seconds] and he would go ‘ughhh I don’t like that’.
“He had decided that he didn’t feel right and wanted to know how many seconds it was taking him until he got into a habit.
“And it came to, I don’t know what it was in the end, maybe 5.4 [seconds]. He asked for the number, so I said to him ‘5.4’ and he said, ‘yeah that’s good, now test me again’.
“And he wouldn’t be happy until he could bowl maybe 30 or 40 deliveries running in at 5.4ish.”
Hadlee’s commitment to his craft would see him become the first man to reach 400 Test wickets, earn him a knighthood for services to the sport, and secure his place in Nottinghamshire history with over 850 wickets in all forms of the game for the county.
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