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Australia's second visit to New Zealand in three years was a much more successful venture than the first one. The two-match Test series was won at Auckland, after a draw at Christchurch, and although both one-day matches at the start of the short tour were lost, the Australians won notable victories in each of the four three-day games.
They were notable, for in each instance Australia's declarations gave the home team a reasonable chance of success, and each time Australia were in danger of defeat.
The tour made a profit of some $35,000 for New Zealand - the Australians, under a new arrangement, took only 30 per cent of the gross receipts. More important, the team left behind a very good impression, off the field as well as on it.
There was only one unhappy incident. On the fourth evening of the Christchurch Test, the New Zealand captain, Turner, was given not out when the Australians said that he had been caught at second slip by McCosker off Lillee. The bowler was highly incensed, but Greg Chappell, who displayed an excellent sense of diplomacy throughout the tour, calmed everything down.
After their humiliating experiences in Pakistan and India with a much-weakened team, New Zealand had cause for some satisfaction in their performances. At Christchurch, although Australia led off with 552, New Zealand were poised, at tea on the final day, for a spectacular victory.
At a very critical time, the Australian bowlers and fielders responded splendidly, and at the end New Zealand had to fight through to a draw.
In the second Test, the Eden Park pitch was expected to play easily after the first few hours, but for three days it gave lively, but irregular bounce. For the only time on tour, Lillee really let himself go, and his fiery bowling won the match for Australia.
This was not one of the great Australian sides. To be sure, the visitors found the New Zealand pitches variable and disconcerting but there were obvious flaws in the early batting, and in some of the middle-order performances.
The catching was not of top quality, and although Walker was again penetrative and always reliable and Lillee very good on occasions, the other pace bowlers, Hurst and Gilmour, were very disappointing. Between them, they took six first-class wickets for 510 runs.
New Zealand's fielding was also costly, and the pace bowling in the first Test was decidedly inaccurate. Richard Hadlee stood out for his determined efforts as an all-rounder, Geoffrey Howarth advanced in stature as a Test opener, Burgess was again consistent, and at Christchurch the 39-year-old Congdon scored his seventh Test century, thus equalling Turner's New Zealand record.
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