March 06, 2019 3 min read

The King of Swing

A new ball, a humid summer’s day and a green cricket pitch at Lancaster Park in Christchurch. In conditions like that, few batsmen in the world would have rated their chances against New Zealand cricketing legend Sir Richard Hadlee.

Hadlee was a true master of swing bowling, taking 431 wickets at an average of 22.29 during his 86-test match career. His control of the cricket ball was unsurpassed, and he was revered for his ability to embarrass batsmen with deliveries that moved in the air to catch the edge of their bat or thunder into their pads to dismiss them leg before wicket.

Our high qualitySir Richard Hadlee signed print - ‘Master of Rhythm and Swing’ is the perfect way to celebrate one of the greatest ever to play the sport.

Born on 3 July 1951, Hadlee was the most famous of an immensely successful cricketing family that included his father Walter Hadlee, brothers Dayle and Barry Hadlee – all of whom played cricket for New Zealand.

Nicknamed ‘Paddles’ because of his large feet, Sir Richard won many a match for New Zealand during a test match career that spanned 18 years from 1973 until 1990. He was handy with the bat as well as ball, scoring 3,124 test match runs at an average of 27.16, including two centuries and 15 fifties.

This ability as an allrounder led to him becoming the first man to reach the milestone of taking 400 test wickets and scoring 3,000 test runs.

Playing against in England at Christchurch’s Lancaster Park in 1984, Hadlee scored 99 runs and took eight wickets. The English could manage just 82 all out in their first innings and 93 in their second, and New Zealand won the test by an innings and 132 runs, all before the end of the third day of play.

His personal best bowling figures of 9 for 52 were achieved against Australia at The Gabba cricket ground in Brisbane in November 1985. It was an imperious performance from Hadlee, who also took 6 for 71 in the second innings and scored 54 with the bat to complete a demolition of the much-fancied Australian side.

Hadlee was known as more of a gentleman cricketer than a man who fitted the cliché image of a big angry fast bowler. While he went for out-and-out pace early in his career, he achieved his greatest success when he focused on moving the ball in the air.

Taking 10 wickets in a test match was not uncommon for Hadlee and he achieved the feat nine times. He held the number one ranking in the ICC Test Bowling Rankings from 1984-1988 and spearheaded the New Zealand bowling attack for the first 10 years of a remarkable 12-year period in which New Zealand remained unbeaten at home in test matches. He also played 115 one day internationals for New Zealand, taking 158 wickets at an average of 21.56 runs, and with an economy rate of just 3.30 runs per over.

Hadlee was named Wisden Cricketer of the year in 1982 and New Zealand sportsman of the decade in 1987. During his last test match tour to England in 1990 he was awarded a knighthood for services to cricket. He went on to celebrate in fitting fashion, taking 5 for 53 in the second innings of the final test against England at Birmingham, including taking a wicket with the final ball he ever bowled in test cricket.

He was inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame in April 2009 and a bronze bust of Hadlee can be found in his home town of Christchurch, alongside those of 11 other Canterbury heroes.

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