On 10th July 1990, Sir Richard Hadlee ended his controversial, award winning, record breaking, eighteen year cricket career by taking 5 wickets in his final bowling performance, and taking a wicket with the final ball. This historic match was played in England. He had played 86 tests in all.
Affectionately known as ‘Paddles’, Hadlee was born on 3rd July 1951 in St Albans. After a childhood of playing cricket and attending Christchurch Boys High, Hadlee’s cricket debut was representing Canterbury in 1971. He played his first test match two years later. Then known for his attitude and his rebel appearance (he had shaggy long hair), Hadlee’s playing barely turned heads.
After studying the cricketers of the past, Hadlee began to add their ways to his own – learning from their mistakes and their victories – to hone his own skills. By the time he helped New Zealand to win against England – for the first time in history – in 1978, he was well on his way of becoming a legend.
With ‘…devastating control…’ Hadlee sharpened his right-arm bowling and his aggressive left-handed middle-order bating. By the time he retired, he was said to be the greatest fast bowler and all-rounder in cricket history. Being the first player to take 400 test wickets, he had ‘…made life uncomfortable for all the great batsmen of his era…’
In 1980, he was awarded an M.B.E in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. A Knighthood for his ‘service to cricket’ followed in 1990. He is the only cricketer to receive this honour since 1936 and being only the second to do so. He was inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame on 3rd April 2009. He and His cricketing family are acknowledged in the naming of the ‘Hadlee Stand’ at the AMI Stadium.
Hadlee continues to be involved in New Zealand sport and opened the ‘The Sir Richard Hadlee Sports Trust’; Offering scholarships and support to all sportspeople who are facing hardships where they are assisted to strive towards success and greatness in New Zealand sport.
*Image courtesy of Planet Cricket – http://www.planetcricket.org*