New Zealand had the ill luck to be trapped twice on a wet pitch after England, with May winning the toss, had batted on a true surface, and they were dismissed for 47, the lowest total in the long history of Tests at Lord's and the fourth lowest in England. In 1924, South Africa were put out at Edgbaston for 30, and further back Australia could muster only 36 at Edgbaston in 1902 and 44 at The Oval in 1896. Again the Surrey spinners, Lock, nine wickets for 29, and Laker, five for 37, proved almost unplayable. It was Lock's first Test at Lord's.
While England relied on the eleven who won at Edgbaston, New Zealand welcomed the return of Sutcliffe, who played with his right forearm encased in a felt cover and they also brought in Blair, leaving out Meale and Cave.
The match began in sad circumstances with the announcement that news had just been received of the death of Douglas Jardine in a Swiss nursing home. Jardine captained England at Lord's in 1931 when New Zealand played their first Test match. The M. C. C. and New Zealand flags were lowered to half mast.
The honours of the first day went to New Zealand. They restricted England to less than 40 runs an hour, taking seven wickets for 237 runs. While full credit must be given to Hayes, MacGibbon, Blair and Reid for their steadiness on an easy-paced pitch, some of the England batsmen showed little imagination in dealing with bowling generally short in length.
With Richardson and Smith concentrating solely on defence the first hour produced only 27 runs and fifty minutes later the total stood at 54 when Petrie caught Richardson on the leg side. In two hours before lunch Smith made only 17. One could sympathise with him in his anxiety to do himself justice, but he looked a vastly different cricketer from the one who had set up a University record by hitting three hundreds for Oxford against Cambridge on this same ground in successive matches.
Smith was missed off Blair by MacGibbon at second slip off the third ball after the interval, and when third to leave he had occupied three hours fifty minutes over 47. Both Graveney and May fell trying to change the tempo of England's scoring and Cowdrey arrived in time to face Hayes and MacGibbon with the new ball. Bailey gave Cowdrey valuable help in a stand of 60. It was sheer joy to see Cowdrey pierce the field with dazzling cover drives and powerful on-side strokes, but runs never came easily against keen opponents.
Petrie caught four of the first six batsmen behind the stumps and Hayes (short-leg) and Playle and D'Arcy (covers) were often prominent. Hayes made a grand catch at short-leg in disposing of Evans and at the end of the day he was still fresh enough to put in a final burst of bowling, taking Cowdrey's off-stump with a yorker. Cowdrey made 65 in two hours ten minutes, hitting nine 4's.
So much rain fell in London after the close of play that next day the match could not be resumed until 3.20 p.m. and then wickets went down in a heap, thirteen in all in the space of two hours twenty minutes.
In such circumstances the England tail had little to fear. Lock played really well, demonstrating the value of the straight bat, but Trueman, Laker and Loader were willing to hit at anything and in half an hour 32 runs were added before the innings ended.
Trueman started the New Zealand debacle by removing Miller in the first over. Then for half an hour D'Arcy and Playle managed to subdue Trueman and Loader, but May gave them only four overs before he turned to Laker and Lock with the total at 12. The change was electrifying. The pitch could not be described as sticky, but it was treacherous enough for Laker to make the occasional ball stand up as well as turn from the off.
Most of the New Zealanders contributed to their own downfall by picking the wrong ball to punish. Playle, the first of Laker's victims, slammed a catch to mid-off; Harford fell in almost the same way, but D'Arcy stood his ground for fifty minutes. Then as soon as he faced Laker he was taken in the leg trap. Sutcliffe showed that the conditions were not so difficult as his predecessors had imagined, but any hopes New Zealand entertained of avoiding a complete collapse went when Reid, having hit Lock for a tremendous 6 in front of the tavern, gave Loader a skier at mid-on.
So Lock broke Laker's sequence, and the left-arm bowler, whipping the ball across from leg to the right-handers, quickly accounted for MacGibbon and Alabaster, but he found a worthy foe in Petrie while Sutcliffe concentrated on taking Laker. In this way both men avoided off spin, but May countered by bringing on Bailey for an over so that the two Surrey bowlers could change ends.
Lock, from his new station, immediately pierced Sutcliffe's defence with his quicker ball and Petrie, who kept up his end for forty minutes without scoring, was cheered all the way back to the pavilion on being caught in Laker's leg trap. Hayes gave Lock his fifth wicket with a slip catch and so New Zealand, following on 222 behind, had to face the music for another ten minutes.
New Zealand's fate had been virtually settled on Friday and more rain left the pitch and outfield in a sodden state. The players needed plenty of sawdust to maintain their footholds when the match was resumed in sunshine after a delay of half an hour.
This time all five England bowlers met with some degree of success. D'Arcy alone offered real resistance. Sixth out, he kept up his end for just over two hours, and while mainly on the defensive he did not hesitate to punish the ball he fancied. Three of his four boundaries came at the expense of Trueman.
Sutcliffe fell to a fine ball from Bailey that took his off-stump and nine men were out for 56 when Hayes spoiled Laker's figures by sweeping him twice for 6, but Lock soon tempted him into giving a return catch. It was one of the shortest Tests for many years, being completed in eleven and a half hours. In 1946, when Australia dismissed New Zealand at Wellington for 42 and 54 and won by an innings and 103 runs, the issue was decided around lunch time on the second day.
With 25,000 people present, the captains arranged an exhibition match of 20 overs each which, played in a light-hearted way, caused plenty of fun. Richardson kept wicket for England while Evans bowled.