Cricket: Taylor made return to form

By Doug Laing


It was 31 years ago yesterday, on February 20, 1982, while working in Wellington that I was sent down to the Basin Reserve to do the colour story on what was the capital city's first big one-day international cricket match.

It was 1-1 in a three-match series, the first between the two countries since the six-match series and the underarm affair in Australia 12 months earlier.

The Basin was chokker with about 18,000 people as Kiwi openers John Wright and Bruce Edgar strode to the crease just before 11am, and with Martin Crowe, Geoff Howarth, Jeremy Coney, Lance Cairns, Ian Smith and Richard Hadlee among those to follow it was about as fine a one-day team as New Zealand would ever put onto the park.

There was a mild chill in the breeze, but otherwise it was sunny and fine.

Fine, at least until Wright was caught off the first ball.

Not a lot else to be said, really. New Zealand all out for 74 in less than 30 overs, Aussies took just over 20 to knock off the runs and win by eight wickets.

It was all over well before 4pm, no need for lights in those days, and by early evening the streets of the capital were empty.

Thus, ever since that day, I've never got to a one-day international in time for the start. It's a superstition, and wasn't one I was going to breach when I mused that yesterday at McLean Park would be Ross Taylor's day, and he would get a century.

I can't say I ever thought he and his new skipper would share centre-stage for so long, but if there was someone in the background preordaining the events they weren't doing too bad a job.

By the time I did start heading to the ground, England skipper Alastair Cook and Ian Bell had scored 50 off 11 overs and 3 balls, a fine endeavour which was a bit unnerving because the last time Captain Cook flailed these shores, he and his first mate smote 158 for the first wicket, helping England to the mighty fine total of 340-6.

As it happened on that occasion, the Antipodeans, with Taylor and McCallum hitting 106 between them, were equal to the task, and the match was tied.

By the time I got there, Cook and Bell had added another 30-odd runs, and from outside the gates it sounded as if no one was inside, quiet, still, like birds stopping tweeting before an earthquake.

In a moment, Bell was out, and there was chirping. But Cook was still steering the ship.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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