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Sir Richard Hadlee

by Saurabh Sharma Jan 10, 2020 • 16:14 PM
Richard Hadlee Biography

Sir Richard John Hadlee is one of the finest cricketers New Zealand has produced. Richard Hadlee was a bowler of devastating control and intelligence: the first to 400 Test wickets; and one of the four great all-rounders of the 1980s. By the time he retired from international cricket in 1990, at the age of 39 and with a knighthood newly conferred upon him for his services to the game, Hadlee had cemented his place as one of the great fast bowlers of all time, and lifted New Zealand to unprecedented feats in the Test arena.

Hadlee is rated by many experts as the greatest exponent of bowling with the new ball. He was the master of (conventional) swing and was the original Sultan of Swing. Along with Malcolm Marshall, Hadlee was seen as one of the finest fast bowlers of his time, despite the contemporaneous presence of Dennis Lillee, Imran Khan, Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Joel Garner, Kapil Dev and Wasim Akram among others.

Born on 3rd July 1951 in Christchurch, Hadlee was one of the five sons of Walter Hadlee, former New Zealand captain. His cricket education began at an early age, and in 1971-72 he debuted for Canterbury, forming a penetrative new-ball partnership with his elder brother Dayle. In those days, however, Hadlee was a tearaway, placing speed far ahead of guile, an attitude that was matched by his unkempt, long-haired appearance. His lethal, whippy, side-on action made life uncomfortable for all the great batsmen of his era, as he extracted pace, bounce and movement from even the least responsive of surfaces.

Hadlee began his Test career in 1973, but his first five years were fairly ordinary, fetching him only 61 wickets, each costing more than 35.  However his breakthrough performance came against India in 1976 in which he took 11 wickets in a game resulting in a win for New Zealand and cemented his place in the side. In 1978, Hadlee helped New Zealand to a historic first win over England by taking 6 for 26 in England's second innings, bowling the visitors out for 64 chasing a target of 137.

From that point onward, Hadlee steadily put together his marvellous career: his bowling developed, his batting was full of handsome and ambitious strokes, and his fielding at his favourite gully position was quite outstanding. In 1979-80, New Zealand faced the West Indies in a home test series. At that time the West Indies were a formidable power in world cricket. In the first test in Dunedin, New Zealand achieved a shock 1-wicket win, in which Hadlee claimed 11 wickets. In the second test of the series, Hadlee recorded his maiden test century, helping New Zealand draw the test and win the series 1–0. The result was the start of a 12-year unbeaten home record for New Zealand in test match series. He was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 1980 Queen's Birthday Honours.

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1985-88 was the beginning of a period in which Hadlee developed from a very good fast bowler to a truly great one. During this period he averaged five-and-a-half wickets per Test and less than 20 runs per wicket. He was phenomenal in matches that New Zealand won, but even in defeats he averaged 21.71, taking 94 wickets in 18 matches.

In New Zealand's tour to Australia during 1985, an outstanding all-round performance from Hadlee helped destroy the home team and saw New Zealand winning 2-1, their first on Australian soil.  Hadlee had a personal haul of 33 wickets in 3 tests. Hadlee was lethal against most opponents, but he saved his very best for his trans-Tasman rivals, Australia. In only 23 Tests against them, Hadlee took 14 five-wicket hauls, the most by any bowler. Each wicket against them cost him 20.56, which is among the best for bowlers who got at least 75 Australian wickets.

In 1986 Hadlee helped New Zealand to a 1–0 series win in England, their first over that country in England. Hadlee's outstanding personal performance in the second test at Nottinghamshire (his county 'home') where he took 10 wickets and scored 68 in New Zealand's first innings powered his team to victory. In this test Hadlee, often a controversial character, added to this side of his reputation when he felled (and hospitalised) England wicketkeeper and Nottinghampshire teammate Bruce French with a nasty bouncer.

Hadlee claimed the test wicket world record against India in India in 1988 surpassing Ian Botham’s tally of 374. After touring India in 1976 Hadlee, plagued by stomach troubles, had decided never to play cricket there again, however the opportunity to make history was too strong a lure to neglect though New Zealand lost the series 2-1 to India.

In a home series against India in 1989-90, Hadlee become the first bowler in history to take 400 test wickets when he dismissed Sanjay Manjrekar in the second innings of the first test. After helping New Zealand to another test victory over Australia at Wellington by taking his 100th first class 5- wicket haul in an innings, he finished his Test career with a five-for, taking 5 for 53 at Edgbaston in a performance that helped him win the Man of the Series award against England.

However, Hadlee was a controversial player all through and it was believed that he spent so much of his time and effort on his own behalf that he was never recommended for leading the team. It was also during the 80’s Hadlee had sharply criticised the New Zealand team "for sloppy practice habits and tardy attitude" through a newspaper article which did not go down well with the team management.

Hadlee was a right-arm pace bowler. Initially Hadlee was extremely fast and as the years progressed he gained accuracy, movement off the wicket and in the air-a reputation that probably gained him quite a few wickets on its own. Perhaps his most potent delivery was the often unplayable out-swinger, which became his main weapon in the latter stages of his career. But what made him stand out from the rest was his ability to deliver regardless of the conditions. The subcontinent proved too tough to conquer for some fast bowlers - Dennis Lillee, for instance, took three wickets at 103 apiece in his three Tests in Pakistan - but not for Hadlee. In the 13 Tests he played in Asia he averaged 21.58, with five five-fors.

Hadlee modelled his bowling action on the great Australian fast bowler Dennis Lillee. Bowling was clearly his best suit, but Hadlee was a pretty handy batsman as well, especially during the second half of his career. In his last 46 Tests he averaged an impressive 33.16. After retirement he went on to become an outspoken media pundit, and later the chairman of New Zealand's selectors.

By Abhishek De

1985-88 was the beginning of a period in which Hadlee developed from a very good fast bowler to a truly great one. During this period he averaged five-and-a-half wickets per Test and less than 20 runs per wicket. He was phenomenal in matches that New Zealand won, but even in defeats he averaged 21.71, taking 94 wickets in 18 matches.

In New Zealand's tour to Australia during 1985, an outstanding all-round performance from Hadlee helped destroy the home team and saw New Zealand winning 2-1, their first on Australian soil.  Hadlee had a personal haul of 33 wickets in 3 tests. Hadlee was lethal against most opponents, but he saved his very best for his trans-Tasman rivals, Australia. In only 23 Tests against them, Hadlee took 14 five-wicket hauls, the most by any bowler. Each wicket against them cost him 20.56, which is among the best for bowlers who got at least 75 Australian wickets.

In 1986 Hadlee helped New Zealand to a 1–0 series win in England, their first over that country in England. Hadlee's outstanding personal performance in the second test at Nottinghamshire (his county 'home') where he took 10 wickets and scored 68 in New Zealand's first innings powered his team to victory. In this test Hadlee, often a controversial character, added to this side of his reputation when he felled (and hospitalised) England wicketkeeper and Nottinghampshire teammate Bruce French with a nasty bouncer.

Hadlee claimed the test wicket world record against India in India in 1988 surpassing Ian Botham’s tally of 374. After touring India in 1976 Hadlee, plagued by stomach troubles, had decided never to play cricket there again, however the opportunity to make history was too strong a lure to neglect though New Zealand lost the series 2-1 to India.

In a home series against India in 1989-90, Hadlee become the first bowler in history to take 400 test wickets when he dismissed Sanjay Manjrekar in the second innings of the first test. After helping New Zealand to another test victory over Australia at Wellington by taking his 100th first class 5- wicket haul in an innings, he finished his Test career with a five-for, taking 5 for 53 at Edgbaston in a performance that helped him win the Man of the Series award against England.

However, Hadlee was a controversial player all through and it was believed that he spent so much of his time and effort on his own behalf that he was never recommended for leading the team. It was also during the 80’s Hadlee had sharply criticised the New Zealand team "for sloppy practice habits and tardy attitude" through a newspaper article which did not go down well with the team management.

Hadlee was a right-arm pace bowler. Initially Hadlee was extremely fast and as the years progressed he gained accuracy, movement off the wicket and in the air-a reputation that probably gained him quite a few wickets on its own. Perhaps his most potent delivery was the often unplayable out-swinger, which became his main weapon in the latter stages of his career. But what made him stand out from the rest was his ability to deliver regardless of the conditions. The subcontinent proved too tough to conquer for some fast bowlers - Dennis Lillee, for instance, took three wickets at 103 apiece in his three Tests in Pakistan - but not for Hadlee. In the 13 Tests he played in Asia he averaged 21.58, with five five-fors.

Hadlee modelled his bowling action on the great Australian fast bowler Dennis Lillee. Bowling was clearly his best suit, but Hadlee was a pretty handy batsman as well, especially during the second half of his career. In his last 46 Tests he averaged an impressive 33.16. After retirement he went on to become an outspoken media pundit, and later the chairman of New Zealand's selectors.

By Abhishek De

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