Sir Richard Hadlee may no longer have the Test wickets record, but he has a definite place in cricket history. He played the lead role in some 27 New Zealand victories in Test cricket and took wickets in all climes. Recently, in New Zealand, he had a freewheeling chat with Sportstar , on a variety of topics.
Was there no motivation left after the Edgbaston Test? Perhaps you could have finished with over 450 wickets?
No... I did not have the desire to keep going. By then I had achieved everything in the game. I was happy to get away from the game when I did. It was not of any concern to me that someone would surpass my record. Anyway I had my heart surgery within six months. The timing was right... I was 39 then.
Do you still maintain that you did not enjoy playing one-day cricket?
One-day cricket is always a necessary part of the game. Yes, I have played 115 one-day internationals. I found one-day cricket quite frustrating because the good balls you bowl would get hit for a six or a four particularly with the field placing restrictions. And sometimes you are not bowling to get guys out which is contrary to what a cricket contest is all about. Test cricket was the ultimate to me. You need real skill there in Test cricket. You attack and try to get the guys out. One-day cricket is more a game of chance. I still recognised that one-day cricket is very important having played it in a different role.
Would you agree that you played a significant role in New Zealand's wins in the late 70s and the 80s? Do you think New Zealand cricket is not the same now?
There is no doubt that New Zealand's successes during that time were due to the professionals who played in England. Wright, Howarth and myself played cricket day in and day out in England. The skill factor, the attitude, the training, the planning became very important. I think personal attitude made a big difference then. It made a huge difference. The problem now is the opportunities are limited for overseas players in county cricket. Danny Morrison is the only one who is playing out there. So it's just that we cannot get players into county cricket and gain good professional experience. Although quite a few go there and play league cricket, it's totally of a different standard. We have Martin Crowe... he is a world class player. But New Zealand has missed him this summer. And the middle order is exposed to the new ball at an early stage. And runs have been a bit of a problem. Had Crowe been there, the batting would have stabilised and the Kiwis would have been more competitive.
How would you rate Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis?
Ya... they will have to be the best. They are the most lethal combination in world cricket today. In fact they complement each other so well... one being left arm and the other right arm. Both have wonderful skills. And their success rate is quite phenomenal. And they intimidate the batsmen. Against New Zealand they picked up 43 of the 55 wickets that fell. So that's a devastating combination. And our batsmen tended to struggle against their pace, their subtle skills and variations with the ball. Ya... they are at present the greatest opening pair of fast bowlers. As far as combinations are concerned they ought to be on a par with the Truemans and Stathams and Lillees and Thomsons, Halls and Griffiths. Yes, we have to talk about Akram and Younis as a great pair.
They both together are formidable, except that Wasim tends to get top order batsmen out because of him being a left armer... because of the varying angles he bowls with swing. He is likely to get more to order batsmen out. But Waqar bowls better with the old ball. So when the middle order gets exposed after Wasim's blows, Waqar comes in and gets his middle order and lower order wickets. I would think he would get more of the middle order and certainly would clean up the tail with his yorkers.
There has been a lot of debate on the Pakistanis' ability to move the old ball. Have you ever tried and been successful in doing so?
No... I have not been able to do things like that. Waqar must have learnt the skills and art somewhere. Well one can do that with the ball kept heavy and damp through natural sweat, moisture. This is not to suggest anything such as ball tampering. You cannot do anything to the ball with knives or bottle caps or ladies cream. But the ball could get scuffed up when it hits the concrete or pickets. When one side of the ball is heavier it changes the characteristics of the ball. So when it goes through the air it does something different. So it's their skill. They have learnt that and exploited that to the hilt. There is nothing wrong with that. They did it here, too.
Did you have any problems with the balls used in India and Pakistan?
The balls out here tend to get a litle bit soft and you can't get much bounce from them. It's quite different from the balls used in India and Pakistan. I think in India we played with the Dukes. I enjoyed bowling with the English balls. They are harder ones.
Do you think the ICC is moving in the proper direction?
I think so. I think there are less incidents and controversies out in the middle now. There is no suggestion of bias or cheating. One has more confidence in the game's supervision now because the ICC panel is going to be the best and is monitored every year. All these things happen in other sport. I think this is the way to go when there is so much at stake. There is international pride and money and at the end of the day all the players want the right decision. Quite clearly when Dicky Bird came here it was an incident-free series against Pakistan. He was respected and we had our umpire at the other end. Our umpires could learn from him. I think the advantages are great. And there is also the ICC match referee system which controls the game. It's true the system has quietened the game quite a bit.
When the Pakistanis came out here in the past they had been volatile, they were involved in controversial incidents and they were not a popular side. This year they turned everything around. They were magnificent ambassadors for their country. Salim Malik did a wonderful job as captain. Majid Khan was the coach and he disciplined the side. Full marks to them, but actually it is because of the influence of the match referee system.
I was apprehensive about the third umpire system when it was introduced because gone was the human element. But now I think it is a good move. It is being used to adjudicate run outs and stumpings. I think it should be used to adjudicate more decisions. I don't think it should be used for lbw decisions, but it could be used for catches. The third umpire has certainly improved things in one-day cricket where the scores are getting lower and lower. A batsman may not be given out caught on 20, and then he goes on to make 70s. In the third umpire system this will not happen. So change is the order of the game. It adds a bit of excitement to the game. It happens in American football, but it has taken away some human element from the game.
Was Dennis Lillee a role model to you?
Well, Lillee was a magnificent bowler. He had great skills, he was a great trier and he got you out. By sheer presence he was an intimidator. Guys like lan Botham have been great characters in the game and quite destructive. Imran Khan has been charismatic. And Kapil, what a fine cricketer he is. We had a great contest in the 1980s. There were some good battles. But Lillee indeed was my hero.
How do you view Kapil Dev breaking your record of 431 wickets? Did you ever get discouraged while bowling on Indian pitches?
Well, I have played on dead tracks. I have played on Indian pitches... about six Tests and picked up 34 wickets. That shows I have taken wickets on slow and dead pitches. I got more wickets against Australia than anyone else. It will be about 130 against Australia, probably 90 against England. The other half of my wickets have come against the other nations like India, Pakistan, West Indies and Sri Lanka. I think I played a part in 26 to 27 Test wins for New Zealand which I suppose is a great deal.
Were you always eager to bowl on day one of any match?
Yes, that's the time you get the best conditions for a quick-bowler. And it sets the pace of the game as well. You are eager to bowl on day one. I always picked the ball. All balls are different... the seam, the feeling is so different.
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