New Zealand's hastily arranged tour to Sri Lanka in mid-April was viewed by the New Zealand Cricket Council as a vital stage in rebuilding the national team. After five years of comparative stability, gaps had occurred and needed to be filled. Two stalwarts, Coney, the captain, and Edgar had retired during the season just finished, and with Wright, Edgar's opening partner for the previous eight years, being excused from the tour to allow him to arrange his benefit at Derbyshire, this meant that a new captain and vice-captain had to be selected. The Crowe brothers were the logical successors, with Jeff being appointed captain. It had been under his leadership that New Zealand won the Australian Schoolboys' Championship in 1976-77, while Martin, leading by example, had won the Shell Trophy for Central Districts in the grand manner.
After the experience which many of the batsmen had undergone in the recent series against West Indies, it was essential that their confidence be restored. The programme of three Tests and four one-day internationals against Sri Lanka, preceded by a three-day match against an invitation side, was seen as an ideal preparation for the World Cup in India later in the year.
Four players were making their first tour for New Zealand: Phil Horne, a left-handed opening batsman who had represented New Zealand at badminton at the 1986 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh and made his Test début against the West Indians; Andrew, a right-handed middle-order batsman, aged 28, who made his first-class début in 1979-80; Dipak Patel, the former Worcestershire all-rounder; and Danny Morrison, a nuggety right-arm fast-medium bowler. A cricketer with a positive approach, Horne brought to the opener's role a sharp eye, an ever-improving technique and excellent judgement of a run. His fielding in the covers was first-class. Jones, whose tenacity and grit over the years had won him the respect of his Wellington team-mates, had forced his way into the side by scoring two hundreds and four fifties in eight Shell Trophy matches. He was preferred to Patel in the First Test match for the batting place resulting from Coney's retirement. Throughout the New Zealand season, the 21-year-old Morrison's bowling had developed appreciably. His greatest asset was his stamina; he was as determined and lively at the end of a hot day with the old ball as he was with the new at the start of the innings.
Unfortunately, and unhappily, the political troubles in Sri Lanka intensified while the team were there. While the first match was being played, at Galle, four passenger buses were sprayed with machine-gun fire by separatist rebels near Kandy, the venue of the Second Test. And on the evening that the First Test finished, a car bomb exploded near the team's hotel in Colombo, killing many people. Such an uneasy situation did not provide a satisfactory atmosphere for a young sports team - throughout their short stay they had been constantly under police surveillance - and in the interest of their safety the tour was cancelled three days later.
The Second and Third Test matches had been scheduled for Kandy (April 24-29) and Colombo (May 5-10), while the one-day internationals were to have been played at Moratuwa (May 2) and Colombo (May 3, 12, and 14).
Match reports for
2nd Test: Sri Lanka v New Zealand at Kandy, Apr 24-29, 1987
3rd Test: Sri Lanka v New Zealand at Colombo (SSC), May 5-10, 1987