Only Test 1971/72

Australia v New Zealand

St Kilda Cricket Ground, Melbourne: 5th – 8th January 1972

Miriam Knee, experienced as a Test player since 1961, was Australia’s new captain, up against Trish McKelvey who called correctly. New Zealand would bat.

It was a new look Aussie team, naturally, given the three year gap between Test matches. In total Miriam Knee had eight debutants in her Test team. Trish McKelvey had only three debutants. The team had toured England in 1966 and hosted them in 1968/69, but the Australians had given the Kiwis an added incentive to do well.

I know that we were very determined as a team to be successful, especially as we had been turned down by Australia for a full tour because it had been decided we weren’t strong enough.” – McKelvey

Tina Macpherson took the new ball with Raelee Thompson, and the big quick from NSW who had been terrorizing Australian state teams over time now took out her venom on New Zealand. She clean bowled opener Judi Doull for one and then took out the captain McKelvey for a duck, giving wicket keeper Marg Jennings her first catch in Test cricket. When Macpherson had clean bowled Shirley Cowles, New Zealand were in deep trouble at 3/26.

Thompson in her debut showed great support from the other end, bowling tight lines, giving the Kiwis little to play at. Miriam Knee also plugged away with her miserly offerings, but then turned to the slow left arm orthodox of Lesley Johnston.

The young spinner was devastating, from the time Macpherson caught Brentnall to the stumping of Jackie Lord by Marg Jennings, giving her the stunning Test debut figures of 7-24. So dominant was her bowling that the other debutant spinner, Wendy Blunsden, didn’t get a bowl. New Zealand were crushed for only 89. Did the New Zealand skipper misread the pitch when electing to bat?

I don’t think that we misjudged the wicket – we were very nervous and really just didn’t apply ourselves to the task. The team were very upset at our 1st innings score and were absolutely determined to turn this about at the end of the first day.” – McKelvey

The New Zealand quick bowlers, Liz Allan and Jill Saulbrey, failed to trouble the Australian openers, Elaine Bray and Shirley Banfield, who cruised to a solid start before McKelvey turned to the medium pace of Pat Carrick. Banfield fell LBW for 20 when the score was 40, bringing newcomer Dawn Rae to the crease. A running mishap saw Bray runout for 32 when Australia was 62. Australia strolled past the New Zealand total going to stumps in a strong position at 2/109. The crowd became involved earlier in the day and some unkind remarks by hecklers were used by the New Zealand skipper to motivate her team.

We had a team meeting at the end of the first day and I told the team what a couple of members of the public said to me as we left the field. I had actually been billeted with these people, they were standing at the gate when we came off the field, they made a couple of remarks about our poor batting, bowling and fielding.”

Day two was a complete turnaround. Australia lost Rae for 38 when the score was 110 and Bev Wilson also fell for 17 to make it 4/113. Wilson’s was the last double figure score as Australia were mesmerized by the guile of Pat Carrick’s bowling. Just as Lesley Johnston had gone through the Kiwis, so too Carrick had done to the Aussies as she collected 6-29, cleaning the home team up for 129. Quick bowler Jill Saulbrey picked up three wickets.

After looking like getting a sizable lead Australia were only 40 in front. And what of the wicket? McKelvey had first use of it and her team was cleaned up by a spinner. Australia looked comfortable against the quicks but collapsed against slow medium pace.

It was a reversal of fortune in the second innings with New Zealand’s batters applying themselves with far more conviction. The first innings nerves had subsided and they were buoyed by their efforts with the ball after the poor start.  Jan Stead and Judi Doull put on 104 for New Zealand as Australia struggled to break through.

Finally Tina McPherson removed Doull for 56, but New Zealand went to stumps on day two having removed the deficit and setting themselves up well at 1/155.

Early on day three they lost the captain, again to Macpherson, for 26. 2/163, but it was money for jam from that point. New Zealand plundered the attack, through Powell (66) and the opener Stead who narrowly missed her century with 95, LBW to the part time bowling of Dawn Rae.

What had happened to this wicket, so devastating in the first innings, yet here were New Zealand having a picnic? Knee herself only picked up one wicket. Johnson, the first innings destroyer only collected one. The best bowler in the Aussie camp was fast bowler Tina Macpherson who picked up 3-62 from 23 overs.

New Zealand, on the canvas after the first innings, were now well and truly in command with 335 in the second dig, setting Australia a target of 295. The Aussies were never in the race, Saulbrey and Carrick again doing the damage. To add to the ignominy of it all, Miriam Knee scored a duck as Australia were skittled for just 152, losing the Test match by 143 runs.

McKelvey was understandably thrilled. This was the first Test match won by the New Zealand women’s team.

The opposition and press were in disbelief. It took the Blackcaps another 2 years before they could record their first Test win over Australia.” – McKelvey

What happened to cause such a dramatic turnaround?

Put simply, I made a mistake. I left the spinners on too long.” – Miriam Knee in a harsh but frank assessment.

We were flogged.” – fast bowler Tina Macpherson, even harsher.


New Zealand 89 (Stead 25, Johnson 7/24, Macpherson 3/26) and 335 (Stead 95, Powell 66, Doull 56, Macpherson 3/62) beat Australia 129 (Rae 38, Carrick 6/29, Saulbrey 3/45) and 152 (Thompson 25, Saulbrey 4/50, Carrick 3/56) by 143 runs