On 9 November 1978 a considerable number of the best cricket players in the world played at the Tauranga Domain. The occasion was a World Series Cricket (WSC) match.
World Series Cricket (WSC) was a breakaway professional cricket competition staged between 1977 and 1979. In 1976, after the Australian Cricket Board refused to accept Channel Nine’s bid to gain exclusive television rights to Australian Test matches, Network Nine’s Kerry Packer set up his own series by secretly signing a number of the best players in the world and, in so doing, turned the cricket world on its head. The series became a reality because of two main factors: the widespread view that players were not being paid enough money to make a living from cricket and the inability of Packer to secure the exclusive rights to screen Test cricket.
The matches, which ran in direct opposition to the established international cricket matches, changed the face of cricket. The WSC was the start of the professional era as we know it today. One significant change was the introduction of coloured uniforms, which are features of One-Day and Twenty 20 cricket matches of the modern day. Packer set up WSC by secretly signing such players as the English captain Tony Greig, Australian captain Greg Chappell and the West Indies skipper Clive Lloyd. The three captains were the key to signing the rest of the players. During the years of WSC the teams involved were WSC Australia, WSC World X1 and WSC West Indies.
There is an interesting story about how Tauranga became one of the three New Zealand venues for what was often referred to as the World Series Circus. The Tauranga Netball and Tennis organisations, who were searching for funding for the (then) new pavilion at the Cliff Road courts, approached a professional fundraiser. The fundraiser was also a promoter of the WSC tour of New Zealand and suggested the match as a fundraising venture. This is how the WSC came to what was then one of the country’s smaller cities. The local organisers approached Tauranga Cricket for assistance, which created some problems. With the WSC being in opposition to the New Zealand Cricket Council, restrictions were placed on local cricketers. However, local cricket administrators quietly and unofficially assisted the organisers. Fifty six-ball overs per side were played, which was another innovation in the days of eight ball overs. The charges of the day make interesting reading: $4.00 for adults and $1.00 for children.
Never before had such a galaxy of world stars appeared in Tauranga. The WSC Australian team featured such household names as Dennis Lillee, Greg Chappell, Ian Chappell, David Hookes and Rod Marsh. Tony Greig led the WSC World X1 with stars such as Barry Richards, Lawrence Rowe, Michael Procter, John Snow and New Zealand’s own superstar Richard Hadlee.
Bay of Plenty Times sports writer Kevin Savage reported, “The day was made for the occasion, bright and sunny though with a cool breeze… and there were one or two performances befitting giants of the sport, the batting of Jamaican Lawrence Rowe and the bowling of Richard Hadlee being the first to come to mind. “But something was missing – Atmosphere. The match did not feel real. It looked like an exhibition. It felt like an exhibition… the players were doing their best, but for themselves and not for their country.”
For the record the World X1 batted first and were dismissed for 178 in the 46th over, with the Australian X1 all out for 94. West Indian Lawrence Rowe, batting at four, was in majestic form, posting 52 runs in 63 minutes. South African opener Barry Richards gave his side a solid start by grabbing 36 runs, while Colin King reached 27 before dismissal. Australian X1 express bowler Dennis Lillee returned the best bowling figures of 3/15, with Kevin Walters and Greg Chappell taking two wickets apiece. The Australian X1 reply never really got going, with opener Bruce Laird and Ian Chappell both returning to the pavilion with the score on seven. Ian Davis, who was the other opening batsman, stuck around to top score with 30 runs, with Kevin Walters being the only other Australian X1 batsman to reach double figures.
To the delight of the crowd of around 3,000, Richard Hadlee, the sole New Zealand player, did considerable damage with the ball for the World X1. He was immediately in action, being all fire and venom in the first over and taking Bruce Laird’s wicket in his second over. He came back later in the game to remove the last two Australian batsmen, leaving the Australian XI all out for just 94 in the 37th over.
WSC World XI v WSC Australia 1978/79 season
Played at Tauranga Domain Outer Ground on 9 November 1978 (50-over match)
WSC World XI innings
B A Richards c Hookes b Gilmour 36
D L Amiss c Bright b Malone 10
R A Woolmer b Lillee 17
L G Rowe b G S Chappell 52
C L King c I M Chappell b Walters 27
A W Greig run out 4
M J Procter c Hookes b G S Chappell 13
A P E Knott b Lillee 2
R J Hadlee c Hookes b Walters 10
J A Snow not out 0
D L Underwood b Lillee 0
Extras (b 3, lb 3, nb 1) 7
Total (all out; 46.3 overs) 178
Fall of wickets 1-23 (Amiss), 2-54 (Richards), 3-98 (Woolmer), 4-127 (Rowe), 5-131 (Greig), 6-161 (Procter), 7-166 (Knott), 8-178 (Hadlee), 9-178 (King), 10-178 (Underwood)
Bowling O M R W
D K Lillee 8.3 1 15 3
M F Malone 10 2 24 1
G J Gilmour 10 3 40 1
K D Walters 5 0 20 2
R J Bright 8 0 55 0
G S Chappell 5 1 17 2
WSC Australia innings (target: 179 runs from 50 overs)
B M Laird c Rowe b Hadlee 4
I C Davis lbw b Snow 30
I M Chappell run out 0
G S Chappell b Procter 1
D W Hookes c Hadlee b Greig 4
K D Walters c Greig b Underwood 17
R W Marsh c Knott b Underwood 7
R J Bright b Underwood 5
G J Gilmour b Hadlee 9
M F Malone b Hadlee 6
D K Lillee not out 0
Extras (b 4, lb 7) 11
Total (all out; 37.3 overs) 94
Fall of wickets 1-7 (Laird), 2-7 (I M Chappell), 3-9 (G S Chappell), 4-25 (Hookes), 5-51 (Walters), 6-62 (Marsh), 7-68 (Davis), 8-? (Gilmour), 9-90 (Malone), 10-94 (Bright)
R J Hadlee 9 2 21 3
M J Procter 5 3 4 1
J A Snow 10 2 23 1
A W Greig 5 0 23 1
D L Underwood 8.3 2 12 3
Result: WSC World XI won by 84 runs
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