25 February 1975
On this day in 1975 England quick Peter Lever bounced New Zealand quick Ewen Chatfield hitting him in the temple. Chatfield collapsed onto the pitch clinically dead.
The 1974/5 tour of Australia and New Zealand was not a happy one for England. They had been comprehensively beaten by a resurgent Australia spearheaded by fast men Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thompson and were not having the better of it in their struggle with the New Zealand Black Caps.
In his Test debut at Eden Park in Auckland Number 11 Chatfield was putting up stubborn resistance with Geoff Howarth when England fast bowler Peter Leed decided to test him out with a bouncer. This was the era before helmets and much of the modern protective gear worn today was available to players and the bouncer hit Chatfield on the temple.
Chatfield collapsed onto the pitch his heart stopped, he stopped breathing and swallowed his tongue. Only the quick thinking and decisive action of England’s physio in performing mouth to mouth and heart massage saved Chatfield’s life.
Chatfield went on to play 43 Test matches and 114 One Day Internationals for New Zealand but as a legacy of his experience in his debut Test match never once bowled a bouncer himself since that day.