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There has been no more successful tour of New Zealand in terms of public relations, gate receipts and even results than the 1981-82 tour by Australia. The visitors set out to remedy the damage done the previous summer in Australia - the season of two hotly disputed catches and of the underarm incident in the third of the Benson and Hedges final series matches, in Melbourne. They succeeded admirably, and for this much credit is due to the captain, Greg Chappell, and his industrious, amiable manager, Alan Crompton. It was a measure of Chappell's determination to make amends that he won the award of nearly £1,700 for the Sportsman of the Series.
The Australians overcame grounds for complaint. In the opening match of the one-day series, at Auckland, New Zealand's top scorer, Edgar, was almost certainly bowled when only 7, but was given not out. After his splendid century in that match, Chappell was accidentally knocked over as he left the pitch by one of the horde of spectators who invaded the ground. At the Christchurch Test he had his cap snatched from his head by a youthful spectator. Yet there was no murmur of complaint about these and other incidents, and the New Zealand players matched the Australians in their behaviour. It made for a most pleasant summer.
Paid attendances totalled more than 200,000 and the crowd of 42,000 at the first one-day international at Auckland surpassed by some 12,000 the previous New Zealand record. New Zealand's success in that match led to a ground record of 15,000 for the second game of the one-day series in Dunedin. If New Zealand's defeat there and in the deciding one-day match at Wellington, followed by some bad weather and a washed-out first Test, also at Wellington, rather took the cream off the financial cake, the New Zealand Cricket Council still showed a healthy profit of some £58,000 on the venture.
By drawing the Test series one-all, New Zealand maintained their recent good record at home. They have won two and shared two of their last five domestic series. The rained-out first Test suggested that the teams were evenly matched. Australia batted badly at Auckland, and lost; New Zealand bowled and batted wretchedly at Christchurch, and Australia won. In addition, the drawn series was very satisfactory for the New Zealand public, which seldom hopes for more than evidence that its Test team can foot it with the other cricket countries.
There were some fine individual performances in the Test series. Edgar made 161 at Auckland, the highest score by a New Zealander against Australia and the best in a Test at Eden Park. There were also memorable centuries at Christchurch by Chappell and Wright. By and large, however, the batting was sketchy. Chappell was head and shoulders above all his colleagues except, perhaps, Wood. Edgar capped a very successful season, while the New Zealand captain, Howarth, played some useful innings. However, there were too many Test failures by players chosen for their batting.
Although the Australians seldom had Lillee fully fit, there was some very fast bowling by Thomson. The most successful Australian bowler, however, was the energetic and aggressive off-spinner, Yardley, who maintained his Australian form by taking thirteen wickets in the three Tests. New Zealand had the best bowler of the series in Richard Hadlee, winner of the Man of the Series award, a car valued at £5,900. This gave New Zealand players about £14,000 and the Australians £12,600 of the most substantial prize-money ever offered in New Zealand.
Test matches - Played 3: won 1, Lost 1, Drawn 1.
First-class matches - Played 5: Won 1, Lost 1, Drawn 3.
Win - New Zealand.
Loss - New Zealand.
Draws - New Zealand, North Island, NZCC President's XI.
Non first-class matches - Played 6: Won 3, Lost 3. Wins - New Zealand (2), Nelson-Marlborough. Losses - New Zealand, Northern Districts, Central Districts.
Match reports for