New Zealand's first victory in a Test rubber at home should have been a happy occasion, but the New Zealand cricket public, which had looked forward keenly to the West Indians' visit, was glad to see the back of them. New Zealand won the first Test by the narrowest of margins, and drew the remaining two. Yet the West Indians lost more than a Test series. Their reputation for sportsmanship went too. There were several extremely unsavoury incidents on the field in the first two Tests, and the situation was not improved by the extravagant statements made by their harassed manager, Willie Rodriguez.
There could be some sympathy for the West Indians, coming to New Zealand after a particularly demanding tour of Australia and having to do without Richards, because of injury. Their main complaint in New Zealand was about the umpiring, and in retrospect there is little doubt that if both sides suffered from difficult, debatable decisions, more went against West Indies than against New Zealand. Both Mr. Rodriguez and the captain, Lloyd, said there should be neutral umpires in Test matches. Such complaints by touring teams are by no means uncommon; they have been made in every cricketing country for years. But Mr. Rodriguez, after stating at a press conference in Christchurch that he did not think the umpiring was biased, only incompetent, claimed after his departure that the West Indians had had to get batsmen out nine times before getting a decision. And his allegations went well beyond the bounds of acceptable comment when he claimed the West Indians were "set up; that there was no way we could win a Test"; that New Zealand were celebrating 50 years in Tests and were determined to do something about it. This thinly veiled suggestion that there had been collaboration between the New Zealand administration and its umpires was highly insulting to men of integrity.
On the field, the West Indian players behaved in an extraordinary fashion. In the first Test Holding, having had an appeal disallowed, kicked the stumps out of the ground at the batsmen's end. When West Indies lost the match, Greenidge showed similar ill-temper as he left the field. At Christchurch in the second Test, Croft, after being no balled, flicked off the bails as he walked back, and a little later ran in very close to the umpire, F. R. Goodall - so close that the batsman could not see him - and shouldered Goodall heavily. It was the height of discourtesy when Goodall, wishing on two occasions to speak to Lloyd about Croft's behaviour, had to walk all the way to the West Indian captain, standing deep in the slips. Lloyd took not a step to meet him.
It was in this match that the West Indians refused to take the field after tea on the third day, saying they would not continue unless umpire Goodall was removed. They were finally persuaded to continue twelve minutes late. That evening they emptied their dressing room and there was a distinct prospect that the tour would end there and then. Following protracted negotiations with the New Zealand Board of Control it was agreed to continue the match and the rest of the tour. The Board made clear its feeling that Croft, after his attack on Goodall, should not be considered for the Auckland Test, but in the event he did play.
The Auckland Test, the last of the series, produced yet another extraordinary situation. Four senior members of the West Indian team booked flights home which would have required their leaving the ground soon after lunch on the last day of the Test. However, they were dissuaded from this dramatic action after representations from the New Zealand Board.
The West Indians, being badly led and managed, were the author of their own misfortunes. For a side described as the best in the world, and the strongest since the 1948 Australians, this was singularly disappointing. It was extraordinary that New Zealand, held in scant regard by the West Indians and everyone else, actually deserved their narrow victory, for they played better cricket and played as a team, whereas the West Indians sulked or stormed in turn.
The West Indian bowlers persistently dropped the ball far too short when there was movement off the seam. They seemed intent on bouncing the New Zealanders out. And when the New Zealand bowlers used a fuller length, the touring batsmen got themselves out trying to cut or hook. In the simplest terms, they failed to adapt to changed conditions. Their outstanding batsman was Haynes, who had the technique and the temperament to counter good, steady bowling when conditions were helpful for seam bowlers - as they were at the start of each Test. The others showed flashes of ability, but lacked discipline. Garner was the best of the bowlers. The fielding was very patchy, a good many catches being dropped.
Howarth and Edgar played some fine innings for New Zealand, and Richard Hadlee, the Man of the Series, bowled most effectively. New Zealand's success was attributable largely, however, to the advance made by the left-arm bowler, Troup, who was sharper of pace, more accurate and more durable than previously. Except for one bad hour at Auckland, New Zealand's fielding was excellent.
Match reports for
Match reports for
South Australia v West Indians at Adelaide, Nov 16-18, 1979
Tasmania Invitation XI v West Indians at Devonport, Nov 23-25, 1979
Western Australia v West Indians at Perth, Jan 5-7, 1980
9th Match: England v West Indies at Melbourne, Jan 12, 1980