Greatest moments in Otago sport - Number 54

The Otago Daily Times counts down the 150 greatest moments in Otago sport.

No 54: Petherick bamboozles the Pakistanis

Peter Petherick was a wizard with the ball in hand. Photo from <i>ODT</i> files.
Peter Petherick was a wizard with the ball in hand. Photo from <i>ODT</i> files.
Peter Petherick was toiling away as a mechanic in an Alexandra garage in the early summer of 1975-76 when he was given the news he had finally been selected for the Otago cricket team.

The retirement of the Alabaster brothers, Gren and Jack, had finally given him the chance to emerge from cricket obscurity at the age of 33 and what followed was a fairytale sporting story.

He was the sensation of the New Zealand first-class cricket season with his offspin bowling during which he took 42 wickets at 20.16. These included nine wickets for 93 against Northern Districts (he was only the third Otago bowler to take nine wickets in an innings) and six for 36 against the touring Indians, renowned players of spin bowling.

His selection in the New Zealand team to tour Pakistan and India later that year became a formality but, with his figures reading none for 96 in his test debut against Pakistan in Lahore on October 9, things looked grim not only for the Kiwis but Petherick.

Then, in the space of a few short minutes, he became an international cricket hero. Javed Miandad top-edged a pull shot and was caught by Richard Hadlee at square leg, Wasim Raja hit a return catch the next ball and Intikhab Alam was caught off his gloves close in by Geff Howarth.

None for 96 became three for 96 and Petherick remains one of only three players - the others are Maurice Allom (England) in 1930 and Damien Fleming (Australia) in 1994 - to claim a hat trick on test debut.

New Zealand lost the test by six wickets but Petherick had match figures of five for 129.

His test career was brief. He played in six matches in which he took 16 wickets at 42.81. He was part of some notable Otago successes, including the Shell Trophy victory in 1976-77 but he transferred to Wellington in 1978 and finished his first-class career in 1981.

He played 52 matches and took 189 wickets (average 24.47) but he will be remembered as one of the characters of the game with his sense of humour and his deep braying laugh.

He enjoyed a smoke and a beer, he was comfortably built, he moved at a leisurely pace in the field and, as a batsman, he was a genuine No 11, although he did make some sizeable scores in club and minor representative matches. But it was as a genuine spinner of the ball - Petherick could make the ball turn square on any pitch which gave him help - that he earned his place in cricket folklore.

He later became prominent in lawn bowls at national championships and he was quick to see the funny side of his success at the underarm bowling game.



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