On February 2, 1973, the illustrious Richard Hadlee played his first-ever international match. Hadlee, who is widely regarded as the best cricketer to ever represent New Zealand, made his international debut in the 1971–72 season, two years after making his first-class debut. Hadlee competed in his maiden international match in Wellington against Pakistan.
On his debut, he didn’t exactly have a remarkable impact, which surely led many to question his credibility. Hadlee worked hard in the game and was greeted with a boundary off his very first delivery in international cricket. Hadlee made his debut by taking charge of bowling the very first over of the game, but struggled to make an impact with the new ball.
He eventually concluded the game with two wickets to his name as Pakistan amassed 357 runs. He contributed a critical 46 runs with the bat to assist New Zealand rally from 221/5 to reach 325. He failed to pick up a wicket in the second innings, giving away 28 runs in seven overs as the game eventually finished in a tie.
Hadlee’s unimpressive debut served as a warning for what was to come in his early days of international cricket as he had trouble putting up consistent performances for New Zealand in the early years.
At the beginning of his career, Hadlee concentrated more on his pace, but it did not help him much. When he assisted New Zealand in their historic first victory against England in Wellington in 1978, he finally enjoyed a breakthrough. He took ten wickets in the match, including 6/26 in the second innings when he bowled the visitors out for 64 while they were chasing a 137-run mark.
Hadlee never looked back after that, becoming one of the greatest bowlers and all-rounder of all time, before retiring. He carried New Zealand’s fate on his own shoulders for more than ten years. Hadlee, a renowned Kiwi, may have had a more decisive role in determining his team’s fate than any other player in the game’s history.