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.

Bruce Morrison
Age: 84
New Zealand test cricketer number: 96
Played: England, at Wellington, March 1-4 1963
Return 2-129, and 10 and 0

The names Blair and Morrison were synonymous with Wellington cricket in the latter part of the 1950s and first half of the 1960s.

Bob Blair and Bruce Morrison shared plenty of happy days for Wellington, including Plunket Shield titles and were regarded among the best new ball combinations in the country.

Blair played 19 tests and occupies a celebrated, if unwanted place in New Zealand cricket history, going out to bat on Boxing Day 1953, after the Christmas Eve Tangiwai train disaster in the North Island, which had taken the life of his fiance, among 151 victims of the tragedy. He bagged 537 first-class wickets in 119 games at 18.5.

Morrison was his admirable foil, a man of the Hutt Valley, who enjoyed 12 seasons of consistently good performance from 1953-54. When he retired after the 1964-65 season, he'd taken 167 first-class wickets at 24.1 in 47 matches.

He also had his one taste of test cricket at his home ground, the Basin Reserve, against the touring England side.

Morrison's chance came when Dick Motz, the established first choice seamer, was injured.

Former New Zealand test cricketer Bruce Morrison, 84, at home in a Trentham retirement village, holds a photo of his Wellington provincial cricket team which won the Plunket Shield in 1960-61. Photo / Marty Melville
Former New Zealand test cricketer Bruce Morrison, 84, at home in a Trentham retirement village, holds a photo of his Wellington provincial cricket team which won the Plunket Shield in 1960-61. Photo / Marty Melville

So Morrison and Blair got to take the new ball in familiar surroundings but against far better opposition than they usually faced.

''I was surprised,'' Morrison recalled at being told of his selection. ''I was 29 at the time and I had ideas on maybe making an earlier team (1958 to England). I was really past thinking I'd make the New Zealand side.''

Still there were no nerves and felt ''reasonably confident''. Playing at the Basin, which he knew very well, didn't hurt either.

New Zealand made 194 but when Blair bowled opener David Sheppard with the second ball of the England innings the roar of the crowd reverberated around the ground.

''I'd never heard that before on a field. It just hit me, boom, out in the middle,'' Morrison said.

His first test wicket was a memorable one, England captain Ted Dexter. His memory on how he dismissed 'Lord Ted' remains pin sharp.

''Dexter was in full cry. I used to bowl inswingers, but this particular delivery I remember it seamed back a little bit and went between bad and pad.''

He dismissed lefthander Peter Parfitt shortly after — ''I had moved the ball away a little bit, pitched it in the right spot, he went forward to push to mid off and (wicketkeeper) Artie Dick caught it.''

That was to be Morrison's lot, two for 129, but he has two other distinct memories of the innings.

England's best batsman, Colin Cowdrey arrived late to the ground and batting No 8 in the only England innings. He made 128 not out.

''I think he'd played golf in the morning out at Miramar,'' Morrison chuckled. ''He was on four and snicked me between first and second slip. John Reid was a righthander, Paul Barton a lefthander and the ball went between them. They both looked at it, it went for four.''

England's rocklike Ken Barrington gave Morrison another cherished memory. After taking his wickets, Morrison had allrounder Barry Knight at the non-strikers end while he bowled several overs, all at Barrington. Any runs went for two or four.

''I'd been talking to Barry at the end of the first day and we got on quite well. So in the middle I said ''when am I going to bowl at you?' He said 'you won't'.

''Barrington had decided I'd just got two wickets and he'd take me.

''He was a pretty good player. They were all good players.''

Motz returned for the third test and that was it for Morrison, who retired after two more first-class seasons.

Morrison was involved in national youth coaching and selecting Wellington teams for many years while running a sports goods business in Hutt Valley.

Morrison now lives in retirement in Trentham, still with a keen eye on the game.

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