I’ll confess, I’m a huge Sir Richard Hadlee fan. As a cricket mad young boy I pored over this book, and borrowed it from the library many, many times until my grandparents gave me my own copy.
“Hadlee Hits Out” covers a historic period in NZ’s cricketing history, from the underarm delivery (this chapter still makes the blood boil), Hadlee’s time with Notts in England, through the World Cup of 1983, to the first test win in England at Headingly. There’s a huge amount of detail on the games, but the fascinating parts come when Hadlee muses on a wide range of issues, from touring South Africa, to Geoff Howarth’s form with the bat, through to his tussles with NZCC.
The opening chapter has Hadlee’s thoughts on his team mates in that legendary mid eighties team. He obviously handed each one a questionnaire asking their favorite food, TV show, memorable moment, etc. “Charlie’s (Ewan Chatfield) special interests include gardening. The last book he read was the Yates Garden Guide. He likes playing squash”. Despite valiant efforts at amusing anecdotes, his humor free reputation is confirmed – on Trevor Franklin’s nickname “Herman” – “A few years ago on the telly there was a programme called Herman Munster, and he looks very similar to the actor who played that part”.
He has strong views on his NZ Cricket boss Martin Snedden – “He likes all sports and is a bit of an intellectual. The last book he read was The Parsifal Mosaic by Robert Ludlam… He always has a comment to add that has very little to do with the subject being talked about”.
Hadlee has no need for a ghost writer to help with his forthright views, and comes across as a man totally focused on cricket and measuring up to his own exalted standards. This may explain his aloof reputation, but the fact remains that Hadlee remains the greatest cricket player New Zealand has produced by some distance.
You can’t argue with his record as a fast bowler and all-rounder at time when the Zimbabwes and Bangladeshes weren’t playing test cricket. The team that was built around him put New Zealand cricket on the map, and as we saw when it broke up, rebuilding takes a long time.
Hadlee was a marvelous player and we were lucky to have him. Reading this book won’t give you many deep and fascinating insights into his thoughts as he ripped through batsmen, but it will bring back some fond memories.