41 Tests , not even 3000 runs with just 7 centuries is a statistics which won’t impress current crop of cricket followers. The statistics is not always a good mirror of a class batsman and Glenn Turner of New-Zealand is one such legend from Kiwi cricket who can’t boast of it.
ABC of World Tennis (were Amritraj , Borg and Connors ) were on cover page of a sports weekly in 70s, though Vijay Amritraj was statistically nowhere near. Similarly Glenn Turner was also as giant hurdle to the opposition as a batsman as much as Sunil Gavaskar was , though statistics was not justifying his class.
After Gavaskar scored 774 runs in one series against West Indies in West Indies, Glenn followed it up with 672 runs in 8 innings including 2 double centuries. Glenn even troubled India in World Cup of 1975 in England . He won the match for NZ single handedly with a classy 114, chasing target of 230 . Glenn was stylish and world class player but hanged his boots early like many Kiwis do (Kiwis play cricket for passion unlike we Indians who love records and statistics ).
Apart from Glenn, Richard Hadlee was another great cricketer (‘all-rounder’ he was called but too good a bowler , that his bowling would often overshadow his batting skills) from New Zealand and whose class was backed by Statistics.
Hadlee took 431 wickets in just 86 Tests at an impressive average of just 22.29 per wicket . He was one of the best movers of the ball (both ways ) , had such a rythmic bowling action that a Tabla player could be tempted to give him a company in his run up.
Richard’s out-swing was as vicious as a leg spin. I was lucky to watch him at Wankhede Stadium Mumbai , at India v/s New Zealand match when he literally beat top class batsmen six out of six times in an over. Many a times too much of out swing turned out to be a boon for batsman with a defensive bat nowhere near the ball.
Long back in 1985 Aussies had a test of Richard’s fire , so much so that with his 33 wickets haul in Australia v/s NZ 3 Test series he single handedly destroyed Kangaroos and won series for NZ 2-0 . Just for record I would quote, India had never won a series in Australia till one year back when Virat and his men won against paralyzed Aussie team playing sans Smith and Warner. Richard gave NZ 2 more series wins in that period (1985-86) . One more against Aussies in NZ and one against England in England. It was a golden period for NZ cricket. Let us not forget NZ had beaten world giants West Indies 1-0 on NZ soil in 1980 (with the clutches of umpires ) when Howarth was NZ captain.
Martin Crowe (who recently expired) was another Sachin category batsman of NZ who had exquisite style and strokes all over.
I would love to recollect a Test Match in Mumbai against NZ when I watched it from stands of Wankhede Stadium Mumbai. Chasing 300 to win NZ lost by 162 runs with Bishen as usual making poor NewZealand batsmen come one by one register an attendance and leave the ground before they could settle. Before Bishen could feast , Madanlal , our opening slow medium fastest bowler Scalped star opener Glenn with ball just moving (not even a fraction percent of what Richard Hadlee could) and taking Glenn Turner’s edge in safe hands of Sunny Gavaskar at first slip. Expert commentator made a perfect analysis when he said ‘ class of Glenn was evident again as his bat was perfectly close to the ball and hence he edged, any other batsman would have missed it completely’
For sure this wicket of Glenn must be best of all his (Madan’s) wickets (even taking into account Viv Richard’s in World Cup-83 which could have been credited to Kapil’s account though for his super catch).
Coming back to match ,after getting Turner early, Bedi the turner started his magic and that was one of the most authoritative bowling by Indian captain in his lifetime. As he picked up John Parker immediately with a brilliant armer . Parker , before he could go on back foot to a shortish ball , saw his stumps castle with a rapid pace of a spin wizard Bishen. Mark Burges was next batsman. Bishen asked Sunil Gavaskar to go to backward short leg where Burgess gave lessons to Sunny ‘how not to drop a dolly?’.
Richard Hadlee’s wicket was one of the most brilliant traps set by any bowler till date. Hadlle had a peculiar sweep shot and Bish knew Richard would serve it for him on platter . As Richard took stance Bishen clapped to Brijesh and asked him to be exactly in line of square leg, Next ball Hadlee sweeped straight into hands of Brijesh Patel , who was India’s Ravindra Jadeja in fielding those days.
Other batsmen of NZ completed formality and India won the Test. Ultimately India won that series 2-0 with one Test being drawn by efforts of NZ wicket keeper Warren Lees who fought and saved the match for NZ with unbeaten 8th wicket partnership with David O ‘ Sullivan. At tea on last day NZ were struggling with 7 wickets.
The New Zealand team is playing two test matches in New Zealand (from 21st February ), where playing conditions are extremely villainous .
Virat better pick up his mobile and speak to experienced travelers to NZ like Sunil Gavaskar, Bishen Bedi , Saurav Gangully and MSD . What say guys???
By Aju Deshpande
A Sportsnasha Exclusive
Feature Image- by Prakash Parsekar