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England vs New Zealand In Print

The New Zealanders first visit to England after the grant of Test status came in 1931, and they came again in 1937. At the same time as Freddie Calthorpe’s England side toured the Caribbean in 1929/30 another England side, under the leadership of Harold Gilligan visited New Zealand and, on the only occasion this has ever happened, both played a Test series. One other visit to New Zealand took place before the war, two Tests there being tagged on to the end of the Bodyline series 1932/33. The 1932/33 series has a blog post all of its own, but of the contemporary books only Jack Hobbs’ Fight for the Ashes 1932/33 goes on to deal with the visit to New Zealand, and does so in short order. 

As to those stand alone pre-war series against New Zealand there are two books. The 1929/30 series was chronicled in The Book of the Two Maurices. The authors were the tall Surrey fast bowler Maurice Allom, and the rather more vertically challenged Glamorgan batsman Maurice Turnbull. There was  also a small book published on the New Zealanders 1931 visit, written by Orton Hintz and titled, unimaginatively, The New Zealanders in England 1931. Of 1937 there was, sadly, nothing of substance published at the time.

Post war the New Zealanders visited England in 1949. The one top class bowler in their side, Jack Cowie, was a little past his best but a talented and durable batting line up meant that the visitors, led by the patriarch of the Hadlee family, Walter, comfortably drew all four Tests. There was a splendid book published at the time, Cricket Companions by Alan Mitchell and John Arlott’s Gone With the Cricketers also looked at the series. In addition, back in New Zealand, a small booklet was published by George Wycherley. Halo for Hadlee was a humorous account of the trip. The best book of all on this series however is a retrospective one, published by our friends at The Cricket Publishing Company a couple of years ago. The Skipper’s Diary is a lasting testament to the quality of ‘the 49ers’.

Much of the strength had ebbed away from New Zealand cricket by the time of their next visit to England in 1958 and had not the weather saved them once it would have been a 5-0 win for England. The writers stayed well away, other than Arlott, who featured the series in his Cricket Journal.

The side that came to England for the first split summer in 1965 was a little stronger than the 1958 team, although they were still unable to trouble the home side. Worth reading is Dick Brittenden’s Red Leather Silver Fern, which covered the New Zealanders’ visits to India and Pakistan as well.

I could almost cut and paste the last paragraph at this point. The story was very similar in 1969 with a visit to England by the New Zealanders, who once more were visiting India and Pakistan as well. Again Brittenden wrote a book covering all three trips, Scoreboard ’69.

In 1973 New Zealand and, as in 1969, West Indies, visited England and even the fact of the latter series being Sobers’ last in England did not strike a chord with publishers. That there was no account of the New Zealand tour was less surprising, but that was a gap in the game’s history that was filled in 2013 by David Parsons’ The New Zealand Tour to England 1973, a fitting tribute to the brave performances of Bevan Congdon and his team.

At the height of the World Series Cricket controversy over the winter of 1977/78 England sent a side out to play series in Pakistan and New Zealand. The absence of a contemporary account comes as no surprise, but almost forty years on David Battersby filled the gap with In The Shadow of Packer, an excellent read.

It was a World Cup year in England in 1983, unexpectedly won by India. After that the New Zealanders stayed behind for a four Test series, their longest visit for a quarter of a century. England’s 3-1 victory was part of the subject matter of a collaboration between Patrick Eagar and Alan Ross; Kiwis and Indians.

The England and New Zealand players must have got to know each other pretty well in those months as, together with Pakistan, the Shaky Isles were one of England’s destinations the following winter. It is a trip recorded by England skipper Bob Willis in The Captain’s Diary a book that is not, in common with most bearing that title, as interesting as the title promises.

The summer of 1986 was a grim one for England as they lost series to both India and New Zealand. By definition a far from memorable season there is a record for posterity in another Eagar/Ross effort; Summer of Suspense.

England beat Australia in between, but lost to Pakistan at home in 1987 before setting off on a long winter in 1987/88 that took in Pakistan and Australia as well as New Zealand. Scyld Berry’s Cricket Odyssey is an excellent account of a difficult winter for England.

The next and, to date, last tour to New Zealand to merit a book was Out of the Rough, published in 1997 and in large part concerning England’s trip to New Zealand the previous winter. The writers were David Lloyd, Jonathan Agnew and Peter Baxter. It is a reasonable account but, frankly, the most notable thing about it is that it also counts as the only tour account ever of an England trip to Zimbabwe an occasion when, whatever dear old Bumble might have asserted to the contrary, we most certainly did not flipping murder ‘em.

There is a slight issue with New Zealand tours caused by the habit, up to and including 1974/75, of adding a trip to New Zealand to tours of Australia. There are books on all those tours, and in respect some of them several titles appeared, but not many deal with the matches in New Zealand. Padwick does not, slightly irritatingly, specify which of the books deal with the New Zealand, so I cannot claim the following list is definitive:-

1946/47:- The books by journalist Clif Cary and Bruce Harris do not deal with the single Test in New Zealand, but there is a chapter on that part of the trip in Denis Compton’s Testing Time for England.

1950/51:- Another cut and paste job in that In Sun and in Shadow by Compton deals with the two Tests in New Zealand. The books I have by ‘Lyn’ Wellings, Keith Miller, Jack Fingleton and ‘Tiger’ O’Reilly do not. I have not seen the books by John Kay, Rex Warner, ‘Jim’ Swanton or Harris.

1954/55:- Another bumper crop of books to celebrate Len Hutton’s side retaining the urn but, of New Zealand, not a word at the time in any of the books I own, despite the interest created by New Zealand’s dismissal for 26 in the second of the two Tests. None of Alan Ross, Sidney Barnes, Margaret Hughes, Swanton, Wellings or Moyes go on to New Zealand. The books I have not seen were written by Arthur Gilligan, Arlott and Ian Peebles. Of this tour however there have been two retrospective accounts, both of which do go on to New Zealand; In the Eye of the Typhoon by Frank Tyson, and Those Daring Young Men by Alan Hill.

1958/59:- Of the writers on this, for England, disappointing Ashes tour only Peebles went on to New Zealand as far as I am aware for the two Tests there. His book was The Fight for the Ashes 1958/59. Wellings and Fingleton did not cover the New Zealand Tests. Others writers who I cannot assist with are Alec Bedser, Moyes and Kay.

1962/63:- This time there were three Tests in New Zealand, not referenced by any of Richie Benaud, Ross or Swanton. There are books by John Clarke, Wellings and Moyes/Tom Goodman that I have not a chance to look at.

1965/66:- There are only two accounts and neither Clarke nor ‘Slasher’ Mackay deal with the three Tests in New Zealand.

1970/71:- Just one book this time, from ‘Dick’ Whitington, who confines himself to the Australian series.

1974/75:- Two Ashes books and two Tests in New Zealand, in the first of which Ewan Chatfield almost lost his life. Tyson wasn’t in New Zealand, but Assault on the Ashes by Christopher Martin-Jenkins does cover the Tests there.

There is also a mention here for the ubiquitous Canynge Caple, whose All Blacks at Cricket 1860-1958 looks at all the New Zealanders’ Tests up to but not including those played in 1958, and covers those played against all opponents, not just England. England versus New Zealand by Gerry Cotter, published by Crowood in 1990, is another similar title.

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