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The first team from the Caribbean to win a Test series in New Zealand since 1955-56 had a much more pleasant visit than either of the last two - the umpire-barging, stumps-kicking brigade of 1979-80, when the West Indians suffered their most recent series defeat, and the 1986-87 party, whose captain Viv Richards had equally sulphurous if less spectacular exchanges with anyone who did not do his bidding. Success and good humour, of course, often go together, and Courtney Walsh, a less famous leader than either Clive Lloyd or Richards, showed himself better equipped to get along harmoniously in New Zealand, with the wry smile regularly half-forming from the left side of his mouth by no means his smallest qualification.
On paper, and at times on the field, the West Indians looked less formidable than their recent predecessors. Ambrose, recovering from injury, was rarely at full blast; the back-up pace bowlers did not complete the lethal four-man barrages of the 1970s and 1980s; Richie Richardson had not yet returned after exhaustion forced him to leave Yorkshire the previous year; with Desmond Haynes absent, the new opening combination of Sherwin Campbell and Stuart Williams looked tentative early in the tour, as did wicket-keeper Junior Murray. Walsh himself bowled magnificently to take 16 of the 30 New Zealand wickets to fall in the two Tests, especially at Wellington, where he won the series. Brian Lara, if less consistent, also reached his high point when most needed. The less elegant left-hander, Jimmy Adams, was just as effective.
This time it was the home team, not the visitors, who were the source of the turmoil. The tour was accompanied by what started as noises off but soon threatened to take centre stage. The New Zealand manager, coach and four suspended players all made dramatic exits. Three re-entered just in time for the Tests - Dion Nash for the briefest of cameos before he broke a finger. A wide assortment of other injuries, and the use by New Zealand in the disastrous Second Test of two players who had been suspended by their provinces, added to their growing disarray. In Christchurch, they were rescued by the lower middle order, led by Adam Parore, but the team fell to pieces in considerably easier batting conditions at the Basin Reserve and went down to their heaviest defeat in any Test. Andrew Jones's international comeback, welcomed in the spring, ended with a double failure. He had no success in five matches, and even after he was dropped New Zealand Cricket still had to fulfil their side of the contract they had given him. The home authority did deserve credit for improved tour planning. After years of pitting overseas teams against meaningless conglomerations of players, with misleading titles like New Zealand Second XI and U-Bix XI, outside the Tests, this time it gave matches to Auckland, Northern Districts and Otago. That revived some competitive interest and there were markedly better crowds.
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