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SMAD. An Organ of Student Opinion. 1933. Volume 4. Number 6.

When Cricket Has Them All On their Toes — Great Match Finishes

When Cricket Has Them All On their Toes

Great Match Finishes

There are those who will tell you that Cricket could never be exciting, but it is obvious that they have not seen many games. For during the past years in Wellington the important games have very often had most unexpected endings.

Most of our post-war overseas visitors have found at least one of their games in Wellington a hard-fought and stern, battle. For instance, the 1924-25 Victorians were defeated by Wellington in a. memorable finish, when Ebeling fell to Badcock with only 19 runs needed for victory. What a cry went up all round the Basin Reserve that day when Ebeling turned to see his spreadeagled wicket.

Two years after Warwick Armstrong's Melbourne team played here, and the second test match against New Zealand was a thrilling high-scoring game.

There was no hope of a decision in the three days alloted to the match, for New Zealand, who had batted first, were batting again when stumps were drawn, and the score was 410 for four wickets. That match will always be remembered by those who saw it for the two great innings played by Roger Blunt, 104 and 103 in the same match.

The 1927-28 Australians, under Vic. Richardson, had good cause to remember Wellington. Vic. had one of the best Australian teams which have ever visited us with him that year, and since the tour was being looked upon in the light of a trial of the players in view of coming tests, the Australians were not giving much away. Therefore when they won the toss on a Friday morning. Vic. Richardson took no chances, and decided to bat, opening the innings with Ponsford and Woodfull. The Victorian record-breakers soon got into their stride, and gave the team a good start, which, however, the remainder of the side did not take the greatest advantage of, and the Australian Eleven was all out for 375—not an impossible score.

Wellington set out to catch it, but failed to save a follow-on, tailing just 206, and Vie. Richardson, following his decision to play the game with full seriousness, enforced the follow-on. Wellington went to the wickets once more, and disaster overtook the side, so that when stumps were drawn on Saturday fifty odd runs were needed to save an innings defeat, page 10 and there were only two wickets to fall.

The Cricket Association, thinking that the game would probably be over after about half an hour's play at the outside, decided that admission on the Monday would be free, and there were quite a number at the Basin Reserve when play resumed on the Monday morning. Perhaps they hoped that something unusual might by chance happen. And it did.

The ninth wicket for Wellington fell early, but James and Massey, Wellington's last men in, grimly stuck to their wickets, and, batting superbly, hung on till lunch-time, when the score stood at sixty above the Australians, and Massey and James still batting.

Lunch had not been provided at the ground, so both the teams and officials had to adjourn to the Grand Hotel in town. Who had expected that this would happen? Certainly not the Cricket Association. The ground and stand were well tilled when James and Massey went out to continue the innings, but the partnership, after adding scarcely any more to the pre-lunch score, was broken, when Massey fell to Morton, the Australian fast bowler.

Australia, wanting 62 to win, opened the second innings with Grimmett and Oldfield. Judging the way the last two Wellingtonians had batted, the wicket appeared good enough, but Australia was to find different. Both Grimmett and Oldfield were back in the pavilion with the score 13. Badcoek had struck a patch, and was almost unplayable. Alexander followed, but fell early, as did Oxenham and Schneider—Badcock and Brice between them were routing the Australian Eleven. Richardson had sent Kippax in, and then, when Schneider fell, Woodfull followed. And were the crowd appreciating the desperate attempts of the Australians to avert defeat. Kippax gave a chance immediately, and then Brice got him. Richardson took no more risks; he went in himself. Six wickets were down for 50, and Australia, after being on the Saturday in an almost unassailable position, had slumped to the situation of an almost desperate team. Richardson and Woodfull saved the side, and the game, which had appeared would be an innings defeat for the locals, had turned into one of the closest finishes seen on the ground And the Cricket Association had thrown away the biggest gate in years.

Again, in 1929-30, the Englishmen will remember both games played in Wellington. For the first game played, Wellington versus M.C.C., was one where the fortunes of the play changed with every day. However, after being ahead on the first innings, Wellington were left with over one hundred to get and the only two batsmen to go in, two men, Dempster and McLeod, who had been injured on the day before. However, so well did these men bat, that when stumps were drawn owing to rain, they were still at the wicket, and, batting confidently, had reduced the deficit to 60. So it was anybody's game.

As for the second game played by this team in Wellington, who will ever forget that famous innings of Dempster and Mills, who gave New Zealand that splendid start for the innings of 276 for one wicket.

And then that game, Wellington v. Auckland, when Wellington, left with 505 to get, batted out from afternoon tea on the previous day to stumps on the final day, to draw the match and take the Plunket Shield, one of the pluckiest innings yet seen in Wellington.

And some people will tell you cricket can never be exciting.