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The seventeenth New Zealand team to visit Australia - although only the fourth for a Test series - arrived in Perth fewer than three weeks after competing in the World Cup in India. From the start the side looked jaded, and with the captain, Jeff Crowe, sadly out of form, the tourists leant heavily on their two star players, Martin Crowe and Richard Hadlee. Moreover, the hectic itinerary, comprising three Tests and the same number of other first-class fixtures, was top heavy with one-day matches. It was a weary Kiwi team that returned home in late January.
With the Australian public appearing to lose interest in the played-for-television one day international series, the gripping hours of the season came on the final day of the Third Test in Melbourne on the penultimate day of 1987. As Australia, chasing 247 for victory and a 2-0 series win, collapsed to 227 for nine, the tail-end batsmen, Craig McDermott and Michael Whitney, survived 4.5 overs to deprive New Zealand of a drawn rubber. Hadlee, who bowled the final over to Whitney, also lost his chance to claim the Test bowling record. However, it was the New Zealand all-rounder's sportsmanship in defeat which subsequently dominated the Australian media.
The New Zealanders began their tour with day/night victory in Perth over Western Australia, then thrashed the Sheffield Shield champions by an innings and 96 runs in two and a half days. Hadlee took five wickets in each innings, and Martin Crowe and Dipak Patel scored centuries with ease. An easily won match in Renmark against a South Australian Country XI was followed by defeat in Adelaide by three wickets after Jeff Crowe's declaration on the third afternoon. Off-spinner John Bracewell claimed ten wickets in the match, at one time bowling 31 consecutive overs.
The First Test in Brisbane was won by Australia on the fourth afternoon. New Zealand were on the back foot from the start, when Ken Rutherford fell to the fourth delivery of the match, and when Australia batted David Boon's 143, his highest in Tests, held their innings together. The New Zealanders had only themselves to blame for a nine wickets defeat, for there was not really that much difference between the sides. The Adelaide Test was played in exceptionally hot conditions, which gave even more kudos to the 150 scored by Andrew Jones in only his third Test. The Australian captain, Allan Border, with a career-highest score of 205, passed Sir Donald Bradman and Greg Chappell to become his country's leading Test run-getter, while the match ended in a tame draw.
After a drawn match in Devonport against Tasmania, where Philip Horne's 125 earned him a Test place at Melbourne, and victory over the Prime Minister's XI in a 50-overs match on the lush Manuka Oval in Canberra, the tourists made a determined bid to square the series. Certainly, the final Test, in front of 127,184 spectators, was an enthralling match and a credit to cricket, played in a hard but fair manner. The ebbs and flows over five days made for an absorbing contest.
For the final three weeks of their tour, the New Zealanders took part in the three-way World Series Cup competition, along with Australia and Sri Lanka. As expected they qualified for the finals where Australia won the first two matches in a manner befitting the World Cup Holders.
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