Henry savours ‘surreal’ seven-wicket haul in NZ great Hadlee’s presence

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New Zealand’s Matt Henry made a memorable return to test cricket in the opening match against South Africa and the 30-year-old said it was “surreal” to match a benchmark set by Richard Hadlee, who cheered him on at the Hagley Oval on Thursday .

Henry’s seven for 23 blew away South Africa who were bundled out for 95, their lowest against New Zealand, and put the home side in the box seat.

It was a stunning display of pace bowling by Henry, playing his first test in eight months only because Trent Boult is away on paternity leave.

Only Ajaz Patel (10-119) and Hadlee (9-52) have returned better test figures by a New Zealander.

Hadlee, who was present at the ground to cheer Henry, had also claimed 7-23 against India in 1976.

“You’ve got to kind of pinch yourself a little bit when you hear those stats and to be able to share that with Sir Richard Hadlee is pretty special,” Henry said.

“It was a pretty surreal moment really.”


Henry takes 7-23 as NZ bowls out Proteas for 95 in first Test

World Test champions New Zealand finished day one on 116-3 and are eyeing a decisive first-innings lead after Henry routed South Africa.

The right-arm quick said his knowledge of the venue came in handy.

“I think just playing here at Hagley and having that experience and knowing what my lengths were and how to operate (helped).

“As a bowling group, I think we bowled really well together and we were able to create pressure at both ends and not really let them go anywhere, which is probably key to how we got the wickets.”

This is Henry’s 15th test since his 2007 debut against England.

Being in and out of the squad had not helped, but Henry said his positive outlook had kept him motivated.

“It’s not always easy at times, but you try not to focus too much on those external things you can’t control, making sure I’m still in that mindset of just trying to keep getting better.

“That’s led me to where I am at the moment – where I can keep coming in and stay positive and not get too caught up in those external things and those noises.”

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