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, Chris Rattue, 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.

Gary Robertson
Age: 57
New Zealand test cricketer number: 158
Played: Australia at Auckland, Mar 13-17, 1986
Return: 12 runs and 1-91

Gary Robertson played alongside some of the most famous names in our cricket history, as John Bracewell spun Allan Border's Australia to defeat at Eden Park in 1986.

The importance of the eight wicket win has only grown over the years as it gave New Zealand a series triumph not repeated against the mighty Australians since.

Bracewell will long remember his history-making 10 wicket haul. Robertson, meanwhile, can recall his lone test wicket with humour and pride.

Opening the bowling with the great Richard Hadlee, Robertson dismissed wicketkeeper Tim Zoehrer who batted at five.

"I'm probably the only person who has got one test wicket and it wasn't out," says the 57-year-old Robertson, a New Plymouth travel agent.

"It came off his arm near the glove, and I'll take it. It was a bouncer which he tried to hook. It lobbed to Jeremy Coney at second slip. I thought it was out at the time, replays showed otherwise.


"It's a bloody good job I wasn't playing these days — it would have gone up stairs and been reversed."

Robertson was already a seasoned first class cricketer — he played a smattering of ODIs throughout the 1980s — so was fairly well acquainted with many team members who included legendary names such as Coney, Hadlee, Wright, Crowe, Smith and Bracewell.

There were just as infamous divisions within that amazing side, although Robertson finds it easy to paper over any cracks all these years later.

"One of the guys who could create waves (Bracewell) did very well in that test so I guess that helped," he says.

"He played bloody he was obviously in a reasonably decent mood during that one. He got Steve Waugh with an absolute pearler, one that pitched on leg and hit off.

"There were interesting characters throughout that era and I probably only heard later that some were not particularly fond of each other."

But on one thing Robertson is adamant, his respect for the way Hadlee conducted himself.

"Quite a few players during that era weren't that fond of 'Paddles' but I think a lot of jealousy came into it," he said.

"I'd attended his coaching courses through the grades...I found him very helpful during my whole career. I felt he encouraged me and was probably more of a supporter than some of the others.

"I've heard lots about him and not always positive and I cannot go along with that. My dealings with him were bloody good. He treated you as an adult, somebody who had their own mind."

Robertson is particularly proud of the way he batted for an hour in an effort to help Coney — a captain he found somewhat aloof — try to reach a century.

"I presume we talked but Coney didn't say a hell of a lot to me at any stage. I always felt a little bit that way about him although it's all a long time ago," says Robertson.

Two of his memories are peripheral to the match action.

Having been assured by opener Bruce Edgar the players could eat what they like, crayfish fan Robertson went for that expensive option at their Waipuna Lodge base to the apparent chagrin of manager/selector Frank Cameron.

And as New Zealand cruised to the third test victory, having drawn the first two, nervous players did a traditional countdown on a sheet of paper stuck to the dressing room wall.

"We were doing it reasonably easy but I suppose in prior years they'd got in positions to win and crumbled," he says.

"I do look back at it with fondness, but I've got good memories from my whole career."

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