The BLACKCAPS’ 2016 series in Zimbabwe will be the 6th time the two nations have contested a Test series on African soil. Across all home and away meetings, New Zealand have never lost a Test. In Zimbabwe, they’ve won every single Test since 1997.
Off the back of statistics like these, the BLACKCAPS are rightful favourites for the 2016 match-up. But there’s more to New Zealand’s history in Zimbabwe than just stats.
Although the first Test series between New Zealand and Zimbabwe was played in 1992, cricketing ties between the two countries were forged decades earlier. In October 1953 a New Zealand side captained by Bert Sutcliffe visited Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) for a First-Class match as part of their dramatic South African tour. The drawn match was largely uneventful although it did introduce Bob Blair to the country he would return to as a coach in the 1980s.
In 1962 a New Zealand side led by JR Reid visited the African nation on a brief three-match tour as a warm-up before heading to South Africa. All three matches were drawn, although Rhodesia were unlucky not to win the first game. After setting the visitors 246 to win on the final day, time was called with New Zealand teetering at 162 for 9. Aside from that close escape, the tour served as a good warm-up for the tourist’s batsmen as all of the top seven managed a 50+ score.
In 1980, Rhodesia became known as Zimbabwe after gaining independence from the United Kingdom. The following year they were admitted to the ICC as an Associate Member. From this point on, international tours to the country became more regular. For much of the 1980s these international tours were undertaken by youth teams, including two Young New Zealand sides.
The first Young New Zealand side visited in 1984 and it was filled with players who had international experience. The tour, packed with 11 matches through October, was highlighted by four First-Class and four List A matches. Captained by Jeff Crowe, the Young New Zealand side enjoyed a very successful tour against a developing Zimbabwe team featuring the likes of Graeme Hick and Duncan Fletcher.
In the second First-Class game against Zimbabwe, which New Zealand won by 8 wickets, current-Wellington Firebirds’ coach, Bruce Edgar, hit 203. It would be his highest First-Class score and an innings he rated among the top five of his career. Other full internationals, Paul McEwan and Trevor Franklin, each had scores of 153 while Martin Snedden’s 8-73 were the best innings figures for the tourists.
In 1988 another New Zealand youth side visited Zimbabwe, playing a similarly packed schedule of 12 matches in a little over a month.
Where the previous Young New Zealand team had many players who’d tasted Test cricket, this group had many who would become stars in the future, including Gavin Larsen (who led the batting averages in both formats), Chris Cairns, Mark Greatbatch, and Ken Rutherford. Lining up against them for Zimbabwe were Andy Flower and Laurence de Grandhomme – father of Auckland and BLACKCAPS’ rep, Colin.
The first Test between New Zealand and Zimbabwe was played in November 1992, just a month after the home side’s first ever Test. In that match, a draw against India, Zimbabwe became the first country not to lose their inaugural Test since Australia in 1877. The first Test of the New Zealand series would also end in a draw, largely due to the 10 hours lost to rain. The second Test went the way of the visitors, however, as they powered to a 177-run win off-the-back of 140 from Martin Crowe and 5-wicket bags for Murphy Su’a and Dipak Patel.
Since that inaugural series in 1992, the BLACKCAPS have dominated Test competition against Zimbabwe, having never lost a single match at home or away. The last time the two sides met was in 2012, when New Zealand won by an innings and 301 runs – the largest win in their history. What will 2016 bring?
|BLACKCAPS' RECORDS v ZIMBABWE||CURRENT PLAYERS|
|MOST RUNS||NJ Astle|
|HIGH SCORE||LRPL Taylor|
|MOST WICKETS||CL Cairns|
* Stats updated after the BLACKCAPS 2016 Test series against Zimbabwe.