Better Than Sex: The Dust-Up In Dunedin

In this week’s Better Than Sex we rewind to the 1980s – the era long associated with the West Indies and their fearsome battery of quicks. On this occasion though, it’s not about their brilliance. This is about Michael Holding losing his temper with Kiwi umpire and local schoolteacher Fred Goodall.

New Zealand v West Indies, 1st Test, Dunedin, 1980

The West Indians had just taken down Australia for the first time; little New Zealand were not meant to pose a threat. Still, the hosts could call upon a pair of devastating weapons. One was Richard Hadlee; but for all the seamer’s brilliance, he couldn’t do it all on his own. Hadlee needed help, and – much to the open disgust of the West Indians – he found it in the form of local schoolteacher Fred Goodall.

Goodall was an amateur umpire widely considered to be New Zealand’s best official. He had stood for a few county games, but nothing like this. On the first morning of the opening Test, Hadlee appealed three times for lbws and Goodall gave them all. (In total, there would be 12 lbws in the match, with Hadlee claiming seven of them; a Test record for the time.) Clive Lloyd’s men were seething, and events came to a head on the final afternoon when, with New Zealand chasing just 104 to win, Michael Holding, in Colin Croft’s words, “tore the glove off” Kiwi batsman John Parker, only for the catch behind to be rejected.

At that moment Holding’s legendary cool deserted him, though thankfully an eagle-eyed local photographer retained his to capture one of cricket’s greatest shots. “The photograph clearly shows that he [Parker] had taken his gloves off and put his bat under his arm and was headed for the pavilion,” Holding recalled. “It was an unbelievable decision, though I was to regret my actions later.”

New Zealand eventually sneaked home by a single wicket; in a match remembered for balls striking pads, it was apt that victory should be snatched with a leg bye. Two more tempestuous contests had to take place, with the second Test at Christchurch the scene of a mass West Indian sulk accompanied by threats to call off the tour altogether. But a pair of scrambled draws ensured that New Zealand would take the series; for the West Indians, this would be their only series defeat of the Eighties.

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