Ask The Spider #121

Can you list the dates of New Zealand’s first home Test series victories over fellow Test-playing sides?

Certainly – the answer is, most of them come in a very short space of time, the only exceptions being the cases of teams which were elevated after this period. Their first series victory at home came in 1979/80 (their first away was in 1969/70) in a filthy-tempered rubber against West Indies; their next series, against India in 1980/81, produced their first against that opposition; in 1982/83 they beat the Sri Lankans at the first time of asking; 1983/84 saw their inaugural triumph over England; in 1984/85 they beat Pakistan; in 1985/86, Australia. Zimbabwe did not tour New Zealand until 1995/96 and it was on their second visit in 1997/98 that the Kiwis beat them; and Bangladesh have been defeated in each of the five Tests they have played in New Zealand, the first coming in 2001/02.

How many countries have they won away in more than once?

Only in England and Zimbabwe have they won more than a single series. In Australia, their only Test victories to date have come in their famous series win in 1985/86; in West Indies (where they have still played only four series’) their only victory is in the most recent series in 2002 (which in a two-Test rubber delivered them a smash-and-grab victory); they have won just a single Test in Sri Lanka since their inaugural tour in 1983/84 (which delivered a two-nil victory); after their inaugural series victory, which came in Pakistan in (as mentioned) 1969/70 they have won just once more to date there. They won in England in 1986 and 1999, however, and toured Zimbabwe successfully in 1992/93 and 2000/01 (they also won what was officially a Test series in 2005/06, but in reality it was more a disgrace to Test cricket that the rubber was even played, never mind given Test status). Their visits to Bangladesh in 2004/05 and 2008/09 also ended successfully, if relatively meaninglessly.

And which teams have they still to win an away series against?

They have never won in South Africa (only in their coming-of-age series in 1961/62 did they avoid defeat and only once since readmission have they won a Test), and have never won in India, though it is fair to say that they were desperately unlucky not to win there in 1969/70 as well. Here, they lost the opener but won the next and almost certainly would have also taken the decider had more than 281 overs been bowled in a rain-ruined match. They have won just once in Tests outside that rubber in India.

Did Raymond Illingworth captain all of his ODIs?

Yes. Illingworth featured a mere 3 times in the shorter game – the inaugural ODI (which at the time no-one realised precisely what was being started with the game) in Australia in 1970/71, and another couple against New Zealand at home in 1973.

How many times have England won away Tests by an innings?

27 so far, though several come with attached asterisks – 4 came in South Africa in the 19th-century in matches which were not regarded as Tests at the time (hindsight suggests rightly so) and another in New Zealand in 1958/59 against a team roughly equivalent in strength to Bangladesh of the last decade. The innings-and-98-run victory in the Second Test in South Africa last winter was England’s biggest innings victory away from home since a pre-isolation tour, that of the Republic in 1964/65 (when they won the First Test by an innings and 104), and only their fourth away innings victory since 1976/77.

How many Tests have West Indies actually won in the last 9 years? Excluding Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.

Since the commencement of their tour of Sri Lanka in 2001/02, West Indies have won a mere 8 Tests with the aforementioned restrictions, and none since the famous victory at Sabina Park against England early last year. This includes two defeats to Bangladesh where they were reduced to fielding an A team in Tests for the first time since 1978/79.

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