Hosting the first full tour by a Test-playing country was the most significant event in Sri Lanka's cricketing history since their inaugural Test match, against England, two years earlier. It gave the Sri Lankan Board an opportunity to put international cricket before an eager public for the first extended period in their history.
From that point of view, the tour was a success. All matches were well attended and Sri Lankans, whose love of the game rivals that of their counterparts anywhere in the world, gave administrators encouragement for future ventures. The New Zealanders took first-class cricket to the historic Portuguese settlement of Galle and to Radella, high in Sri Lanka's tea-planting area, where the game was first played by immigrant planters more that 150 years ago. They also christened the world's 57th and 58th Test venues, the Sinhalese Sports Club and Colombo Cricket Club grounds, during a tour of eight matches, which included three Tests and three one-day internationals.
Sri Lankan officials had hoped that their young team would mark the tour with their first Test victory. New Zealand commanded the Test series, however, and carried on to win the one-day series as well. In terms of results this made it the most successful overseas tour by a New Zealand side.
Richard Hadlee was New Zealand's trump card. His ability to claim vital wickets at crucial moments was a constant handicap to the Sri Lankans, who were also encumbered by a lack of Test experience. They lost the first and third Tests from positions which should have allowed them to claim a draw, though they did attain a compensatory victory in the second one-day international.
New Zealand's captain, Geoff Howarth, surmised before the tour began that it was a voyage into the unknown, a statement based on the fact that, of the touring party, only he and his vice-captain, John Wright, had played previously in Sri Lanka. The New Zealanders had difficulty adjusting to the extreme heat in which the matches were played, but they maintained the spirit and commitment which had been a feature of their victory over England a few weeks earlier. A well-liked side, the New Zealanders were managed by Basil McBurney.
Test matches - Played 3: Won 2, Drawn 1.
First-class matches - Played 5: Won 2, Drawn 3.
Wins - Sri Lanka (2).
Draws - Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka Board President's XI (2).
Non first-class matches - Played 3: Won 2, Lost 1. Wins - Sri Lanka (2). Loss - Sri Lanka.
Match reports for