Perhaps New Zealand’s greatest ever cricketer, Sir Richard Hadlee was one of the great all-rounders in an age of great all-rounders and arguably the greatest bowler among them, renowned for nagging accuracy on the off stump at a sometimes genuinely fast pace.
No one who saw it could forget his smooth, rhythmical approach to the wicket or his classically side-on action. He never failed to produce something in a Test Match at Lord’s. In 1978 he took 5 for 84, in 1983 5 for 93, and in 1986 he produced his Lord’s best of 6 for 80, becoming the first overseas bowler to claim a ‘five-for’ on three consecutive Test appearances at Lord’s.
In what Richie Benaud described as a “masterclass bowling performance”, Hadlee devised a straightforward plan and executed it to perfection. Bowling from the Pavilion end he held a consistent line outside off stump, looking to nibble the ball away off the seam while forcing the batsmen to play in case the ball came back down the slope. First, he had Graham Gooch caught behind driving, then Bill Athey fended one to slip. Martyn Moxon was lbw to one that came back down the slope and soon after that a faster one ripped through skipper Mike Gatting’s defences to bowl him for 2. The wickets of Phil Edmonds and Graham Dilley completed his work.
This was not a case of Hadlee demolishing England’s batting in the space of a single spell, instead he plugged away at his chosen line and length for 37.5 overs, 11 of them maidens, on a good batting wicket. It was indeed a masterclass of discipline and skill. Hadlee’s efforts gave New Zealand a slender first-innings lead, but a second innings 183 from Gooch earned England a draw. Despite cloudy conditions, the pitch remained true for batsmen all the way to day five, which made Hadlee’s performance in the first four sessions all the more impressive.
Hadlee was not yet finished at Lord’s. Four years later, in his penultimate Test appearance, he returned to take four wickets in the match and hit 86 from 84 balls.