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Richard Hadlee on his rise as an all-rounder and New Zealand’s famous Test wins

Richard Hadlee
Ed Kemp by Ed Kemp 4 minute read

Sir Richard Hadlee, the great Kiwi all-rounder, revisited some of the finest moments from a prestigious career during a chat with Ed Kemp.

Published in 2013

The monkey off the back

3-59, 23 & 4-71 | New Zealand v Australia, Second Test, Christchurch, 1974

Glenn Turner got 100 in both innings in what was a low scoring game. This game wasn’t important to me because I did really well, it was important because we were successful in getting the monkey off our back, showing people that we could actually beat Australia. The best bit of history was that my father kept wicket against Australia in 1946 and they got smacked at Wellington, being bowled out cheaply in both innings. After that though there was no Test cricket played between the pair of us until 1973. This win came just after they started playing cricket against us and winning the game felt brilliant.

The all-rounder

44, 2-147 & 81 | New Zealand v Australia, Second Test, Auckland, 1977

I was batting at number eight or nine, and Dennis Lillee was going really well. So well in fact that Australia had us 35-5 in the second innings and we were on our way to getting really well beaten. I went in on a hat-trick ball and by the end of the day I had smashed 81. I was short of a hundred and I’d never got a hundred at that stage. It made me realise if I batted properly but still positively then there would be rewards to follow, but you’ve got to get to your first 50. After that I felt like more of an all-rounder.

The 10-fer

27*, 4-74 & 2, 6-26 | New Zealand v England, First Test, Wellington, 1978

Beating England for the first time in 1978 felt good. After 50 years and plenty of Tests of trying we finally beat England and I got 10 wickets in the match, which was pretty good. However, it’s all well and good performing in your own country, you’ve got to go elsewhere in the world and win, so when we went back to England in 1983 and won out there it was special. Winning a series in England felt great because it showed that we were more than just home track bullies.

The underdog has its day

5-34, 51 & 6-68, 17 | New Zealand v West Indies, First Test, Dunedin, 1980

Beating the West Indies in 1979/80 when we only needed 104 to win in the second innings and we got it nine wickets down was fantastic. We were under a lot of pressure there. It was really tense but felt really good when we got over the line. That match stands out even more because I got quite a few lbws whilst taking 11 in the match. The West Indies side showed some really bad sportsmanship in that game. I can still remember Michael Holding kicking over the stumps.

The short run

6-12 | Nottinghamshire v Lancashire, Trent Bridge, 1980

In the first year of my Nottinghamshire contract, I missed a couple of first-class games due to a chronic ankle injury. I said to the coaching staff, ‘This long run-up is just killing my ankle’. The last game of the year was against Lancashire and I ran in off the short run and took 6-12. At the end of the match I said goodbye to everybody. The chairman said, ‘You could come back next year and bowl off two paces.’ I decided I would just run in off the short run and I became three times more effective. I was 29, and I was better than ever after that.

The big double

4-55, 210 | Nottinghamshire v Middlesex, Lord’s, 1984

At Lord’s they had a pretty good attack with the likes of John Emburey, Norman Cowans, Neil Williams and Wayne Daniel. I’ve never batted so well and sadly I couldn’t bowl in the second innings because I got battered and bruised on the body! That was the biggest disappointment – I would have liked to finish such a great personal game, but to get such a big score was a real thrill.

The perfect match

9-52, 54 & 6-71 | Australia v New Zealand, First Test, Brisbane, 1985

Beating the Aussies in Australia 1985/86 really put us on the map. The Brisbane Test was the perfect Test. I took 15 wickets in the match, got a 50 and Martin Crowe got his (then) career-best 188. Whilst there were these outstanding individual performances, collectively all the guys chipped in everywhere. I really did feel at the peak of my career.

The final success

0-29, 70* | Nottinghamshire v Northamptonshire, Lord’s, 1987

This particular final was a really special moment, made all the better because we had ruined some finals in previous years. In those other finals we played some really bad cricket and had basically just let the nerves get the best of us. I managed to bowl 10 tight overs, putting a squeeze on the Northamptonshire innings, and then I finished off the game with the bat. So finally we did get the result we wanted and that was a really special moment for the team and for me.

The record breaker

5-65 | India v New Zealand, First Test, Bangalore, 1988

I got my 374th wicket to go ahead of Beefy and break the world record – and all of a sudden I was the leading wicket-taker in the history of the game – that’s pretty special. Then I was the first to go to 400. We had a fella from New Zealand called Sir Edmund Hillary, who was the first to conquer Everest. Many people have done it since but people remember that he was the first. To get 400 on my home ground at Lancaster Park in Christchurch, on February 2, 1990, was pretty extraordinary.

Published in 2013

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