26 all out | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 23, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, May 23, 2020

26 all out

It has been described as New Zealand cricket's darkest day, the 1955 Test against England when the Black Caps were skittled for just 26, a record low that still stands today. 65 years later, the score still rankles with New Zealand fans, who are always on alert during a major Test collapse and death-ride the batting team hoping the record falls.

"Frankly, we'd be grateful for anyone to take this record away from us," Paul Ford, co-founder of Kiwi cricket supporters' group The Beige Brigade, told AFP. "It's ignominious, it's shameful. It would be great if someone came along and scored 25 or fewer."

Cricket's landscape in 1955 was vastly different. India had recorded their first Test victory only three years before, Pakistan debuted in Tests barely two years previously and Sri Lanka were still 27 years away from gaining Test status.

New Zealand had not yet won a Test yet, but they made England toil for an eight-wicket victory in the opening Test in Dunedin and were reasonably placed midway through the second match in Auckland, having conceded a first-innings deficit of 46 runs. But the gulf in class proved telling on a deteriorating pitch in the second innings when only one batsman, Bert Sutcliffe, reached double figures.

Five players ended the session with ducks and Sutcliffe lamented: "It seemed hardly fair that we should have been so humiliated after putting up so stout-hearted a performance for two-and-a-half days."

Reaction in New Zealand was ferocious, although captain Geoff Rabone continued to defend his side.

"It was many things, that batting display, but it was never disgraceful," he later wrote.

"Everyone gave their all and we were outgunned on the day. Everyone tried as hard as they could -- how could that be seen as disgraceful?"

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