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2 years ago

England all out 82 & 93. v New Zealand 2nd Test Christchurch Feb 1984

Cricket Life

If there was to be a contest to decide England's most embarrassing Test match defeat of the 1980s, unfortunately there are quite a number of candidates to choose from. Of the 105 tests played in that decade, England lost 39 matches (37.1% if my calculations are correct). Some of these losses were inevitable from day one - the vast majority of tests against the West Indies immediately spring to mind - others so unnecessary and completely avoidable - Headingley 1989 bringing pain to my fingers as I type - but some were just downright shameful.

The type of performance that makes you wonder why you spend so long worrying about such nonsense, filling you with anger, frustration, and a temporary desire never to put yourself through the misery of it again. With England currently touring New Zealand, one particular defeat jumped to the front of the queue whilst I considered pitching the concept of England's top 50 worst Test defeats to Channel Four. Step forward Christchurch 1984; your place in the hall of shame of English cricketing disasters is assured.

The tour, which would eventually develop into a mess, had actually begun reasonably well. Under Bob Willis' captaincy, England had remained unbeaten in their warm-up matches, and enjoyed the upper hand in the first test at Wellington, until a combination of Martin Crowe, Jeremy Coney, and Lance Cairns frustrated the tourists, as the match petered out into a draw. The run-up to the test series had been blighted by bad weather, allowing England only nine days of practice before the international cricket commenced, a concern at the time for the English management in an era when visiting countries put a lot of emphasis on tour matches and acclimatisation.

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