NZ cricketers skittled for 26

28 March 1955

Bert Sutcliffe
Bert Sutcliffe (Don Neely - Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand)

In recent years most test matches between New Zealand and England have been keenly contested. This was not the case in 1955.

At Eden Park, Auckland, on 28 March, New Zealand cricket experienced its darkest day when its 11 batsmen could muster only 26 runs between them against England (which in those days toured as the Marylebone Cricket Club).

This total is still a record test low. Kiwi hopes were raised briefly in November 2011 when South Africa’s fearsome pace attack reduced Australia to 21 for 9 at Newlands, Cape Town. Unfortunately the last Australian pair boosted the total to 47. The next lowest test tallies remain two scores of 30 made by South Africa against England, in 1896 and 1924.

The Eden Park test had started promisingly enough for the home team, which was 154 for 4 when John Reid was dismissed for 73. New Zealand slumped to 200 all out, but then put itself back in the match by dismissing the MCC for 246. Local satisfaction was short-lived. In its second innings, New Zealand took 27 overs to amass 26 runs. Only opener Bert Sutcliffe reached double figures, scoring 11; only two other batsmen scored more than 1. Four bowlers shared the wickets, with nippy off-spinner Bob Appleyard taking 4 for 7.

When New Zealand toured England in 1958 it fared little better, being dismissed for 47 and 74 in the second test. New Zealand suffered many defeats at English hands before finally winning a test, at Wellington’s Basin Reserve in February 1978. Needing only 137 to win, the English were dismissed for 64, with Richard Hadlee snaring 6 for 26. This first victory – at the 48th attempt – was a tribute to perseverance, and it was enthusiastically welcomed as proof that New Zealand could at last compete on the cricket pitch with its former colonial masters. 

By 2019 New Zealand had won 11 and lost 48 of its 105 tests against England. an opponent it had faced nearly twice as often as any other country, despite the diversified touring calendar of recent decades.

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