The unmistakable evidence after the West Indians' tour of New Zealand early in 1987 was that both teams were on the decline and faced a period of rebuilding. Each relied on the same players who had formed the nucleus of its sides for several years; most were over the age of 30 and several had passed their peak. The West Indians, particularly, lacked the all-round brilliance with which they had dominated international cricket for the better part of a decade, their enthusiasm diminished by a glut of cricket. They had come directly from a hectic one-day series in Australia.
The honours were even in the series of three Tests. New Zealand comfortably saved the first after a spirited recovery in their second innings, West Indies won the second, in spite of the loss of more than a day's play to the weather, and New Zealand levelled the rubber in convincing fashion in the last. In the one-day internationals that followed, the West Indians, largely through the batting of their captain, Vivian Richards, in the first and Gordon Greenidge in the last two, were irresistible.
The batting on both sides was inconsistent and depended heavily on the two outstanding individuals - Greenidge for West Indies and Martin Crowe for New Zealand. When they failed, the team failed. West Indies were dismissed for 100 and 264 in the Third Test when Greenidge was out twice for fewer than 20, and New Zealand were confined to 228 in the first innings of the First Test and 157 in the first innings of the Second when Crowe went similarly cheaply. Greenidge, after missing the last five matches in Australia through injury and nearly being replaced for the New Zealand tour, confirmed his standing as one of the most complete batsmen of modern times. His double-hundred in the Second Test and his centuries in the one-day internationals were masterpieces in their own ways. Crowe, the younger of two brothers in the New Zealand team and eleven years Greenidge's junior, enhanced his reputation as one of the finest young batsmen in the contemporary game with big scores in each of the Tests, all coming after the crisis of two early wickets.
The long-serving openers, Desmond Haynes of West Indies and John Wright of New Zealand, were the only others to score centuries. New Zealand could find no adequate successor to the reliable Bruce Edgar, who retired prior to the series, and West Indies' middle-order batting was repeatedly fragile, as it had been since the retirement of Clive Lloyd two year earlier.
Richard Hadlee again spearheaded New Zealand's attack magnificently, passing the landmark of 350 wickets in the final Test. He received admirable support for the 36-year-old Ewen Chatfield and, in the last Test, Martin Snedden. For West Indies, there was a noticeable changing of the guard in their attack. Michael Holding announced his retirement after the First Test, Joel Garner missed the Second through illness, and Malcolm Marshall found wickets hard to come by. With the additional responsibility placed on them, the younger fast bowlers, Courtney Walsh in particular and Tony Gray, showed their worth, especially in an explosive spell at the end of the Third Test. As Holding retired for West Indies, New Zealand also lost a tremendous servant of their game with the captain, Jeremy Coney, playing for the last time during the series. He had announced his intention earlier in the season.
It was the first visit to New Zealand by the West Indians since their ill-tempered tour of 1979-80, and the team manager, the former Test opening batsman and current Board secretary, Stephen Camacho, and captain Richards made a conscious effort to let bygones be bygones. Apart from exchanges during the Second Test between Richards and an umpire, Fred Goodall, which brought a protest from the New Zealand team management, the tour passed smoothly. Indeed, rather than any controversial incidents, it should best be remembered for the remarkable catching, mostly at short leg, and fielding of the little West Indian, Gus Logie, who captivated crowds and television viewers with his athleticism. He held eight catches in the three Tests and fourteen on the tour as a whole, many of them of breathtaking brilliance. Otherwise, the catching of both teams was unusually faulty, the West Indians falling well below their accepted standard by putting down fifteen catches in the Tests alone.
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, President's XI, Shell XI.
Non first-class matches - Played 4: Won 4. Abandoned 1. Wins - Auckland, New Zealand (3).
Abandoned - New Zealand.
Match reports for
Tour Match: Auckland v West Indians at Auckland, Feb 14, 1987
Tour Match: New Zealand Cricket Council President's XI v West Indians at Hamilton, Feb 15-17, 1987
Tour Match: Shell XI v West Indians at Napier, Mar 6-8, 1987
3rd ODI: New Zealand v West Indies at Wellington, Mar 25-26, 1987