Former New Zealand all-rounder Richard Hadlee is undoubtedly one of the greatest cricketers the world has ever seen. The right-arm fast bowler was probably one of best exponents of swing and seam with the new ball and his record of becoming the first person in cricket’s history to take 400 Test wickets is an apt testimony to his skills and verve.

Hadlee, who turns 68 on Friday, registered 36 five-wicket hauls and nine 10-wicket match hauls in the 86 Tests he played. But the one effort that stands out not just for his skills but his sportsman spirit was definitely the first Test of the 1985-’86 Australia-New Zealand series at the Gabba, Brisbane.

Hadlee took a staggering 15 wickets in that match. He had figures of 9/52 in the first innings and 6/71 in the second.

By the time New Zealand arrived in Australia, Hadlee was 34 and in the twilight of his career. It was felt that batsmen had started to figure out his line of bowling and that left-handers in the Australian line-up would be happy to leave the ball alone as he mostly angled it across the stumps.

To counter the problem, New Zealand coach Glenn Turner placed a garbage bin at the stop where the umpire would stand during the Test match and made Hadlee practice bowling close to the stumps so that he could bowl wicket-to-wicket against the Aussies, who boasted of four left-handers in the top seven.

The bowler-coach duo also meticulously studied the tendencies of the Australian batsmen during their 3-1 loss in the Ashes series in England and knew that opener Andrew Hilditch was a compulsive hooker. It is said that Hadlee bowled just two short balls in the 52.3 overs he bowled in that Test match and got the Aussie to hole out to Ewen Chatfield at the fine leg boundary.

The overcast conditions on the opening day also helped New Zealand and Hadlee’s cause as skipper Jeremy Coney had little hesitation to bat first after winning the toss. The all-rounder also accounted for David Boon, Kepler Wessels and Greg Ritchie on the rain-curtailed opening day and then came back the next morning to run through the Australian middle and lower order.

He constantly targeted the off-stump of Australia’s left-handed batsmen and was duly rewarded as he took the first eight wickets of the innings. It looked like Hadlee was on course to become the second bowler to take all 10 wickets in an innings after Jim Laker. But it was his own catch that denied him the record. He took an excellent running catch at mid-wicket to dismiss Geoff Lawson to help Vaughan Brown bag his first Test wicket.

However, Hadlee doesn’t really regret missing out on that record. “Some people asked me why I didn’t drop the catch. But I said to them that the game of cricket is not like that. You take every opportunity you get. And it was significant for Vaughan Brown as well because that was his first ever Test wicket,” Hadlee had said about that incident.

He then dismissed Bob Holland to bowl Australia out for 179. New Zealand then made a mammoth 553/7 declared with Martin Crowe (188) and John Reid (108) scoring centuries while Hadlee himself contributed with a 45-ball 54 to help his team take a first innings lead of 374.

Australia did put up a fight in the second essay with skipper Alan Border scoring an unbeaten 152 and the aggressive Greg Matthews making 115. But Hadlee was not done yet.

After accounting for Hilditch early in the second innings, the all-rounder broke the Border-Matthews partnership by forcing the latter to edge one to Coney and end the 197-run partnership for the sixth wicket.

He then ran through the tail with Chatfield accounting for Lawson as New Zealand won the match by an innings and 41 runs.

Hadlee continued to torment the Aussies during that series as he took 33 wickets in three Tests to help New Zealand record a 2-1 triumph. It remains the only series win for the Kiwis on Australian soil.

Here are highlights of that unforgettable Test and Hadlee’s views on it: