New Zealand v Australia
Carisbrook, Dunedin: 17th – 12th March 1961
At the picturesque Carisbrook Ground in Dunedin, the Australian Test captain had a cold and breezy walk to the middle with her opposite number, New Zealand’s middle order batting mainstay, Rona McKenzie. Despite the chilly conditions, McKenzie chose to bat after having won the toss.
“She (McKenzie) was fairly canny.” – Muriel Picton
Australia’s captain Muriel Picton was making her Test debut. She chose to open the bowling with the left arm pace of Marjorie Marvell and the medium fast Joyce Christ. It was slow going. The Kiwi batters, ever cautious, struggled to play any shots, but the Australian bowlers also struggled to make a breakthrough. Picton tried everything to dislodge the Kiwis. She used Miriam Knee, herself, Una Paisley, before Pat Thomson, the sixth bowler used finally broke through with Norma Wilson stumping Jean Stonell for 18 when the score was 26.
At 3/55 after Christ and Knee had broken through, the Australians were looking more confident, but a stubborn 94 run partnership between the skipper McKenzie (61) and Pat Moore (47*) held the Aussies at bay. It’s not as though the Kiwis were dominating however, and their eventual tally of 241 came from 187 painstaking overs. Marjorie Marvell went wicketless, but bowled 47 overs and took 0-48. It was a similar story right across the innings with the New Zealanders batting extremely cautiously.
“We didn’t field very well and they batted at snail’s pace.” – Picton
“It was exceptionally cold. It was in the minuses. You didn’t know if you were holding the ball.” – Miriam Knee
Perhaps the Australians could have exercised some caution themselves, for they fell well short, all out for 193 from 89.2 overs – 98 less than the Kiwis faced. Raymond was runout for a duck, Norma Wilson fell shortly after and Mary Allitt succumbed for 31 when the score was 3/55. Una Paisley was another runout victim, but Joyce Christ’s 53 helped to settle the nerves, while some help in the lower order from Liz Amos, Picton and Pat Thompson helped Australia to limp to 193. The lack time in the middle during the tour games was beginning to show.
McKenzie capitalized on the precious 48 run deficit by the Australians and ordered her team on the attack in the second innings. Where they were positively pedestrian in the first dig, they were bristling with intent and set about building an impressive target for the Australians to chase.
While wickets fell steadily, naturally as they quickened the pace, the Kiwi batters allowed McKenzie to declare at 7/138, giving Australia a target of 187 runs from 57 overs. To put that in perspective, it required a run rate of 3.28 runs per over, well above the accepted rate for the time and far in excess of what either team had scored in the match to date. Playing time for a draw, a more than reasonable option given the Australian batting line-up, wasn’t an option for Muriel Picton. Pixie went on the attack.
It was a handy, but humble opening pair for New Zealand, the right arm medium pace of Betty Thorner and the left arm pace of Loretta Bayliss, but they blasted through the Australian top order. Thorner clean bowled Mary Allitt for 2. Bayliss did likewise to Joyce Christ, leaving Australia 2/7. Bayliss, bowling with her tail up, bowled Kit Raymond to see Australia teetering at 3/10.
Val Batty steadied the ship for a moment, but Bayliss struck again, taking out Norma Wilson LBW for 3. When Batty was caught behind for 13 it was 5/29. Even the steady rock that was Una Paisley couldn’t withstand the heat of Bayliss and she too fell victim, caught behind. At 6/44, Australia was in complete disarray and the limited batting time on tour was paying dividends nobody wanted.
But still Australia kept chasing victory. Amos was out for 27 after a steady partnership with Pat Thompson, but Knee fell soon afterwards leaving Australia on the brink of defeat at 8/78. Picton, batting at ten, blazed away herself, perhaps still believing that while there was life there was hope. At the other end, Pat Thompson was a rock and held on to help Australia stave off defeat, a heroic innings of just 8 runs in 53 valuable minutes. The skipper ended with 19* as Australia’s helter-skelter run chased met the clock at 8/100. Still 87 runs short, but the final two wickets held out, denying New Zealand a first ever victory in Test cricket.
“I think the girls were nervous. I think New Zealand in some ways were more experienced than we were. I think I lost weight on that tour!” – Picton
New Zealand 8 dec 241(Powell 63, McKenzie 61, Powell 47*, Paisley 2/33) and 7 dec 138 (Thorner 37, Knee 2/28) drew with Australia 193 (Christ 53, Paton 4/35, Thorner 2/33) and 8/100 (Amos 27, Picton 19*, Bayliss 5/28, Paton 2/20)