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.

Ian Leggat
Age: 87
New Zealand test cricketer number: 67
Played: South Africa at Cape Town, January 1-5, 1954
Return: 0 runs and 0-6, two catches

Men in White, the country's cricket bible, showcases a photo from New Zealand's 1953-54 tour of South Africa.

The visitors are holding a party in Cape Town for "the press men who had accompanied them". They are soon to depart for Fremantle on the Dominion Monarch to begin the tour's final chapter in Australia.

A jaunty Bert Sutcliffe tinkles the ivories of a piano while a merry bunch stand around what has effectively become a bar leaner, belting out a few tunes.

Wicketkeeper Frank Mooney sports a double-breasted bespoke suit; others have shrugged their blazers but not their ties. Anyone who has invested in Brylcreem shares can afford a smug grin.

At one corner of the ensemble stands Ian Leggat. A cigarette protrudes from his left hand, possibly about to feed an ashtray. He looks older than his 23 years.

The Central Districts all-rounder is in full voice; the same could not be said for his tour returns. He played eight times for a return of 155 runs from 14 innings at 11.92 with the bat, and six wickets at 34.16 with the ball.

A healthy cameo, described by Men in White as an "attractive 31 in even time", came against Griqualand West in Kimberley. A best bowling return of two wickets for 13 from three overs was eked out against Western Province before their ship sailed.

Leggat earned his cap in the third test against South Africa at Newlands.

He was dismissed for a duck – the scorecard records him batting for one minute - and took none for six from three eight-ball overs. He did not bat again because it was the first test New Zealand, through captain Geoff Rabone, had enforced a follow-on after making 505 and dismissing the hosts for 326.

South Africa finished at 159 for three on the fourth and final day to earn a draw. Leggat's right-arm medium pace was surplus to requirements among the eight bowlers used in the second innings.

He is now 87 and living in Hamilton according to the White Pages. The Herald has been unable to contact him via his listing.

Leggat is the oldest of our dozen surviving retired players who featured in a solitary test, but he embodies the spirit of the project as much as anyone.

It was pitched as a vehicle to celebrate cricketers who, at one moment in their lives, were the best New Zealand could produce for the international stage.

Like all the tourists, Leggat would have been issued a wardrobe which included a blazer, a cap, two ties, two pullovers, three shirts, two pairs of flannels and six pairs of socks. The payment to each player was 650 pounds for a tour which left Wellington aboard the Arawa on September 30, 1953 and returned in late March. Prime Minister Sid Holland farewelled them at Parliament.

Men in White notes that practice aboard the shipwas enhanced using a slip-fielding machine and, despite nets, 20 balls were lost overboard by the time they reached Australia. Within 28 days they had docked at Cape Town to begin the adventure of a lifetime.

At 17-years-old, Leggat was selected to play for Nelson in the 1947-48 season. He was still competing 20 years later.

The all-rounder fashioned a formidable Hawke Cup record; 1968 runs in 38 challenge matches at an average of 35.78, and 134 wickets at 16.03.

He also played 40 first-class matches between 1950-51 and 1961-62. His highlight was scoring 142 against Otago in 1952-53 and forming a then-record eighth-wicket stand of 239 with Harry Cave in the process.

Representatives like Leggat must not be forgotten in today's conveyor belt world of development programmes and academies to fast-track players. His career personifies the link between top players who go on to revered test careers… and the rest of us who toil at club or social level long after any such dreams have passed.

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