There are a select group of New Zealand cricketers whose careers for one brief moment took them to the pinnacle of the sport in this country.

These are the "one test wonders" - and we celebrate them because for that one moment in their lives they were the best this country could produce for the international stage.

They are the conduit between those who go on to revered test careers… and the rest of us who toil at club or social level long after such dreams have passed.

Herald writers David Leggat, Cameron McMillan and Andrew Alderson give an insight into some of these men - they spoke to many of them and hear of their experience for better or worse, and how they feel looking through hindsight's lens.


There are 30 in total, 14 who are alive, and 12 who are retired. This is the story of one of those players.

Stuart Gillespie
Age: 60
New Zealand test cricketer number: 157
Played: Australia at Wellington, February 21-25, 1986
Return: 28 runs and 1-79

Stuart Gillespie enjoyed a halcyon 1985-86 summer.

He was injury-free, had a job, and was in a relationship with the woman who became his wife.

Yet the 28-year-old's stocks kept rising. He was picked in the New Zealand team to tour Australia for the World Series Cup - the 50-over pyjama format captivating cricket fans across the nation.

Gillespie had returned to the game after taking a season off to repair himself… and he sported a moustache which would've sealed a Magnum PI audition.

Upon crossing the Tasman he was allocated Richard Hadlee as a roommate, and spent a week boiling the kettle and learning from a pace bowler in his pre-knighthood pomp.

"I know I made a helluva lot of cups of tea. I sat there and, while trying to get each brew to his liking, struck up a rapport.

"He had it white without sugar, and it had to be pretty correct. It was sent back quickly if it wasn't," Gillespie quipped.

Stu Gillespie on making Sir Richard Hadlee a cup of tea

"I really enjoyed his company. We just had the tea and shared some stories. There was plenty of banter. I was fortunate to be on the field for his 300th test wicket as well."

Many cricket aficionados will recall that moment, when Hadlee trapped Australian captain Allan Border lbw at the Basin Reserve. Shortly beforehand Gillespie took his maiden wicket on test debut.

Wayne Phillips, b Gillespie, 32. Australia 166-3.

"I vaguely remember he missed it, and it was fairly straight with him playing across his legs.

"I made a comment to Richard shortly after his feat that 'I'm only 299 wickets behind you'. That created a bit of mirth in the middle, because we'd had a tough day bowling on a flat wicket.

"I wouldn't say it was fun. I bowled a few overs into the wind - nothing uncommon there – and my figures weren't that flattering, but I did the job I was asked to do."

The match was eventually drawn after two innings when the final day was rained out, but Gillespie savoured another triumph as stumps loomed on the second day.

"At the end of the Australian innings I was getting a bit of physio treatment on my knee and Jeremy [captain Coney] walked past. Then he walked back and said 'I need you'.

"Next thing, I'm padded up as nightwatchman, sitting beside the late Martin Crowe. I was told if we lost a wicket with less than 20 minutes to play I would go out there; if it was more than 20 minutes, Martin would go.

"When Reido [John Reid] got out, Hogey [Crowe] stood to walk out and Jeremy said 'no, you stay…' then he looked at me and said 'you go'."

Gillespie survived. He was six not out at stumps. An enduring memory was facing 2.03m left-armer Bruce Reid.

"We had a Wellington umpire, Steve Woodward, out there. Bruce's arm was coming right out of the RA Vance Stand End where a lot of officials were probably enjoying a gin and tonic at that time of the evening.

"I asked Steve if he could ask them to sit down and raise the sightscreen a touch. That created a bit of humour. Bruce wasn't the easiest to face the way he got bounce out of the wicket."

Gillespie eventually nicked Reid to the slip cordon for 28 on the third day, after 114 minutes at the crease.

"I had visions of carrying the drinks, so I was a bit surprised when told I'd be playing.
"I was disappointed I never played more, and missed out on the team for England [that winter]. That hurt, but at least I can say I played one test for New Zealand.

"Everyone says 'you were a Black Cap'… Well, no, I wasn't. I played for New Zealand… and we wore black caps".

The one test wonders series:
Stuart Gillespie - 'I had visions of carrying the drinks'
Andre Adams - 'Your country needs you'
Peter Truscott - A vote shy of another test
Andy McKay - Dismissing the Little Master
Gary Robertson - The one wicket that shouldn't have been
David Sewell - No average performance
Rodney Redmond - One of the great one-test careers
Greg Loveridge - The bowler who never bowled
Michael Mason - 'An experience you'll never forget'
Ian Leggat - A minute in the middle
Richard Jones - A Christmas call-up
Bruce Morrison - The call that finally came