Wednesday, December 5, 2007

New Zealand's 1937 tour of England (Part Two)

1937 (Part Two) A win over England slips through New Zealand's fingers

Part Two: A win over England slips through New Zealand’s fingers

New Zealanders remember the occasion in 1978 when finally a Test victory was achieved over England, but members of the 1937 side would often recall how close they came in the second Test at Manchester when poor catching let them down.

Lynn McConnell continues his look at the 1937 tour of England through the eyes of players Merv Wallace and the late Bill Carson, in this second of three parts.

It is hard to believe the build-up the side was presented with for the match. A game against second-class opposition would hardly be seen as the ideal build-up for a Test match nowadays. But that was what the team did, not only playing Scotland, but also a two-day game against a Scottish XI to follow.

In the second Test, England won the toss again and this time made no mistakes in the top-order as it scored 240 for one wicket. But the next eight wickets fell for 118 runs, as Norman Gallichan tied up Hammond, bowling two maidens to him and then clean bowling him in the third over.

New Zealand had a poor start with the first wicket falling at 19 but Vivian and Hadlee restored the situation. Vivian made 58 while Hadlee scored 93 and was only denied a century when slipping on the wet ground and breaking his wicket. New Zealand's innings ended at 281

England lost Hutton, Hammond and Charlie Barnett for 37 runs. The next morning the rout continued as England found itself 75-7. But four dropped chances off Freddie Brown saw him go on to score 57 and England reach 187.

"This was where we had lost our matches. The chances in the slips were hard, but Englishman or Australians would have held them. It was heartbreaking to see the match slip through our fingers," Wallace said.

Needing 265 to win the game, New Zealand struggled and was all out for 134. Tom Goddard taking 6-29. Most of the New Zealand team didn't see the end of the innings. They had to leave to catch a train, and were joined by the others once the game was completed.

The disappointment of the Test loss was not evident when the side batted first against Surrey and scored 495. Donnelly made the highest score of the tour to that date with 144. Page made 90 while Wallace hit 69 and Moloney 51.

"Donnelly gave a chance or two, but nevertheless played a most meritorious innings. When in form, as he was at this stage of the tour, he is a brilliant batsman, and a beautiful player to watch, as he hits the ball very hard," Wallace said.

Having reduced Surrey to 147-7, the tail-order carried them through to 270. New Zealand declared at 198-5. Then an outstanding response, considering it was without its three best bowlers, Cowie, who had gone down with the 'flu and Dunning and Roberts who were not playing, saw Surrey dismissed for 274. New Zealand had an outright victory to savour. Vivian took 3-45, Moloney 3-67, Page 2-36 and Gallichan 2-57.

The next match was to provide an unhappy pair for Eric Tindill. It was played against Glamorgan at Swansea's St Helen's Ground, where Tindill had been part of the 1935-36 All Black team that was beaten by Swansea which played two schoolboys, Haydn Tanner and Willie Davies at scrumhalf and flyhalf.

"A big crowd turned out to watch us, but we were not at our best. The travelling had been heavy and to play a test, then travel half the night and be expected to take the field fresh next morning [fielding twice in succession made it harder] was nothing short of absurd," Wallace said.

Carson added that a bit of Welsh subterfuge was added to the mix. "They put one across us but even then I daresay we would have been beaten. The wicket was one which crumbles very quickly. On Saturday it had worn patches in it so on the Sunday the groundsman watered and rolled it. Consequently on the Monday it was as good as it could be. But when we had to bat on Tuesday it just crumbled away again. The umpires told Page that if it had have been a county game they would never have let the game go on."

Going into the final innings, New Zealand were 442 runs behind, but on reaching 71-3 by stumps on day two, the lasted only 40 minutes on the third morning when all out for 110, a loss by 332 runs. A draw followed against Warwickshire but in the final match before the third Test against Essex, Jack Dunning took a six-wicket bag and Hadlee scored his first century of the tour as New Zealand claimed a four-wicket win.

Carson was beginning to bowl by this stage of the tour and in the next match, against Warwickshire, he opened the bowling. The game was drawn while in the next Essex was beaten by four wickets.

An unofficial match was played against Sir Julien Cahn's side before the Test which featured all the international players Cahn had attracted to England to work in his various enterprises. But with Bill Carson and Eric Tindill unbeaten on 54 and 48 respectively, New Zealand took a nine-wicket win, the first defeat for Cahn's team for some time.

England made four changes for the third Test with Denis Compton making his debut. New Zealand won the toss for only the second time in first-class matches on the tour. It scored 30 runs after a rain delay but at lunch the heavens opened and there was no more play for the rest of the day. On the second day, New Zealand reached 249. England declared at lunch on day three at 254-7. New Zealand made 187, which was too many for England to score in less than an hour left of play.

The rest of the tour became something of an anti-climax with the main work completed. Wallace broke his thumb during the second innings of the Test and Page and Hadlee also suffered injuries that needed treatment while the team beat Combined Services by nine wickets. A draw was played out against Hampshire and then in a tight finish against Kent, the last pair were at the wicket when five runs were still required.

Cowie had Doug Wright in all sorts of trouble and when he finally hit the ball onto his wickets, the bails were not dislodged and they recovered to score the winning runs. In the next match, against Sussex, Lowry captained the side and New Zealand scored 546. Having scored 151 when batting first Sussex was then removed for 163 in its second innings, giving New Zealand the win over what was regarded as one of the strongest county sides, by an innings and 237 runs.

A match against an All-England XI selected by Sir Pelham Warner was played at Folkestone with the All-England side scoring 464. New Zealand was 20-2 but a fifth-wicket stand of 233 between Jack Kerr and Sonny Moloney, who scored 112 and 140 respectively, allowed New Zealand to reach 431. All-England declared at 186-9 and, at stumps, which were taken early because New Zealand had to catch a train, it was 182-2.

Lowry's uneven selection policy had its inevitable outcome when a row broke out before the All-England match. Lowry was clearly a larger than life figure but not especially supported by all of the side. Carson noted, "Gallichan was left out for the third game in succession and Lamason for the third time in four games. There was a proper bust up about it and both had a piece of Lowry. However, nothing could be done and I must say that neither Lamason, Weir nor Gallichan have had a fair spin.

"In London I was left out of the seventh first-class game in the last nine. The policy of this team is to play one team all the time even if some are out of form. Lamason who was in great form was also left out. He and I are now known as the grounds staff of the side."

An easy win followed against Minor Counties before the last match in England, against H D Leveson-Gower’s XI at Scarborough. There was one more duty, a three-day match against Ireland.

Wallace summed it up in one paragraph. "The match was against Gentlemen of Ireland at the Rathmines ground and was marked by sensational cricket. They were out for 79, and, feeling very happy, we then went in and were dismissed for 64. In they went again and Cowie simply paralysed them, taking six wickets for three runs. Their whole side was out for 30, and we got the 46 for a win the same day, the first of a three-day match, with the loss of only two wickets. This was the first time for many years that a first-class cricket match anywhere had finished in one day."

The delight of two days off proved momentary however, as Irish officials asked Lowry to help them meet their commitment to paying spectators who had paid to watch the second and third days. Lowry agreed and in the two days, New Zealand still managed a win by an innings.

The side then had 13 days off before sailing for home, via Australia.

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