New Zealand cricket December 30, 2011

Who is New Zealand's best after Hadlee?

By Keith King, South Korea
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By Keith King, South Korea

New Zealand is such a small country (many cities have more people than New Zealand’s four million-odd inhabitants) that, in many ways, is insignificant on the world stage. Sport is one avenue through which New Zealand and New Zealanders have asserted themselves on the world stage. For a country its size, New Zealand has done remarkably well in many sporting codes, including rugby and rugby league, netball and softball.

For those that would argue (with some justification) that these are mere fringe sports in a global sense, New Zealanders have won both tennis and golf majors, made the semi-finals of the basketball World Championships and made the soccer World Cup finals twice (admittedly, they haven’t won a game yet once they have reached them). At the Summer Olympics, New Zealand has won 86 medals (which surprisingly enough is four times the number India, a country with a much greater population, has managed to win).

Arguably, though, the one sport at which New Zealanders are not as competitive as they should be, despite taking it seriously, is cricket. Since New Zealand’s introduction to Test cricket in 1930, the New Zealand team (they weren’t known as the Black Caps until much later) has usually been at the bottom or near the bottom of the heap, the worst team going round. It took 26 years and 45 tests for New Zealand to register their first Test win. Australia wouldn’t even play their neighbours for a 27-year gap between 1946 and 1973, which must be rated as the ultimate cricketing cold shoulder.

New Zealand has a win/loss ratio of 0.47, the lowest of all test teams barring Bangladesh and Zimbabwe (India has the next lowest win/loss ratio of 0.77, showing that it has not always been the powerhouse it is now). A brief respite was found with the introduction of Sri Lanka to Test cricket (the whipping boys of the 80s and early 90s) and then a more permanent one with the introduction of Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, who now seem to be the only teams New Zealand can reliably beat in test matches.

New Zealand, of course, has had famous victories, including the one in Hobart over Australia recently, where Doug Bracewell played his second match-winning hand in three Tests. Tests matches are often won on the strength of one innings or one spell, and great players obviously come up with match-turning moments more often than average ones. This led to the observation that New Zealand’s lack of success may be due to the fact that there has been a lack of great players, the type of player that can single-handedly change a match.

The Australian team of the early 2000s could claim five or six greats, playing together at the same time. By contrast, only two New Zealanders would push for consideration in an all time World XI. One of them, Clarrie Grimmett, didn’t even play for New Zealand, instead leaving New Zealand as a largely unrecognised and unheralded youngster who eventually made his name in the baggy green of Australia, becoming the first player to take more than 200 Test wickets. It would be a stretch to claim Grimmett, the great Australian leg-spinner, for New Zealand.

The other great, of course, is Richard Hadlee, who stands head and shoulders above any of his countrymen. He is a true cricketing great. When Hadlee was at his peak, in the 1980s until his retirement in 1990, New Zealand actually won more games than they lost. He was New Zealand’s greatest match-winner.

Hadlee spearheaded a solid bowling line-up, that was described somewhat harshly but with some justification by Graham Gooch thus: it was like facing the “World XI at one end, and Ilford Second XI at the other”. Do any other New Zealanders aside from Hadlee (counting Grimmett as a New Zealander, while true, would be disingenuous in the extreme) qualify as greats?

In an attempt to arrive at an answer, first of all, I started with the time honoured equations: a great batsman averages 50.00 or more, a great bowler under 25.00. No batsmen from New Zealand who has played 20 or more matches has averaged more than 50.00. Martin Crowe has the highest average of 45.00, and for a decade (1985-1994), he was considered one of the world’s premier batsmen (he averaged almost 54.00 during this period, the highest for any batsmen who played more than 20 tests in this era).

Supporters of Crowe would argue that he was a great batsman and anyone who saw him bat during the 1991-92 World Cup would be likely to agree. Crowe had all the shots (or at least all the shots of that era), possessed a classical technique, was adept off both the front and back foot and was a deep thinker of the game. He was hampered both at the start and at the end of his career – at the start by being rushed into the New Zealand set-up before he was ready (a common occurrence in a country where true talent is so rare) and at the end by a crumbling body that he tried unsuccessfully to push past.

Crowe is without doubt New Zealand’s best ever batsmen and as such may be the only New Zealand batsman to be genuinely described as great. There’s been several very good batsmen, like Glenn Turner, Martin Donnelly, Stewie Dempster, Bert Sutcliffe and Stephen Fleming. Turner is probably the next best, averaging 44 in Tests and the owner of 100 first-class centuries. However, a lot of his finest work was done at the first-class level and he missed six years of international cricket at the peak of his powers after clashes with administration (ironically, given his hard-nosed approach to player management during his stints as the coach of the national side).

Bert Sutcliffe was a majestic player and played in a weak New Zealand team (he was never on the winning side in 42 Tests) but his average of 40.00 qualifies him only as a New Zealand great, not a great of the game. Fleming was a special player, hindered by a poor ratio of converting 50s into 100s, whose average of 40.00 ultimately meant he underperformed at the Test level. Dempster (15 innings) and Donnelly (12 innings) didn’t play enough Test cricket to be regarded greats, although both had formidable first-class records.

On the bowling front, only three New Zealand bowlers average lesser than 25.00, Hadlee being one of them. The other two are potential greats who both had question marks beside their names, due mainly to their longevity.

The first is Shane Bond, New Zealand’s best quick bowler since Hadlee, a bowler good enough to have the third-best strike-rate of all bowlers (50 wickets minimum) in Tests – he got a wicket every 38 balls – and, by the same criterion, the fifth-best strike-rate of all time in ODIs. He was on the winning side 10 out of his 18 matches, an astonishing strike-rate for a New Zealand player and a statistic that probably shows his value to the team. Unfortunately, injuries tarnished his legacy and his career probably falls into the category of unfulfilled, rather than great.

The other bowler is Jack Cowie, whose career was interrupted by the World War II, a player who only played nine Tests but played them outstandingly well (45 wickets with a strike-rate of 45.00 and an average of just under 22.00). He was praised, at that time, as an outstanding bowler, and in the words of Wisden “had he been an Australian, he might have been termed a wonder of the age”.

There are of course allrounders to consider. Allrounders have a special place in New Zealand cricket’s history. Being a cricketing country that shows fight, one more dependent on grit more than ability, New Zealand have often had players who can bat and bowl, reliant on them to do the jobs that other countries would leave to specialists. Apart from Hadlee, three allrounders come to mind: John Reid, Daniel Vettori and Chris Cairns.

Reid, who played from the mid-40s to the mid-60s, was a giant of the New Zealand game but his average in both batting and bowling of 33-odd shows someone who was competent at both skills but a true great at neither. Vettori is someone similar; he has shouldered New Zealand’s bowling attack for more than a decade and has done well with the bat. However, one feels that he while he dominates the game in New Zealand, he is not a true great of the international game.

Cairns overcame the folk hero legacy of his father and was, for a time, the world’s premier allrounder – one capable of shredding attacks and also capable of bowling wicket-taking balls on a regular basis (his strike-rate was an outstanding 53.00). His talent was so obvious that, at times, it felt like he had underachieved. His stats (batting average 33.00, bowling average 29.00) suggest otherwise and are comparable to Kapil Dev (batting average 31.00, bowling average 29.00) or even Ian Botham (batting average 33.00, bowling average 28.00), and are better than Andrew Flintoff’s (batting average 31.00, bowling average 32.00). Cairns has a valid claim to be one of the game’s great allrounders. What possibly counts against him is a failure to have an outstanding series against Australia, the dominant team of his era, à la Flintoff in the 2005 Ashes.

This started as an exercise to try and show that New Zealand has produced more than one great player. Martin Crowe is a probable, Cowie and Bond are both would-have-beens and Cairns is, maybe, under-appreciated. An obvious question would be why has New Zealand only produced one unquestionably great player in 80 years of test cricket?

Do all the best athletes in Zealand play rugby, leaving the scraps of the sporting gene pool for cricket? Is it because of the temperamental nature of our climate, the poor pitches that have blighted the first-class game (thankfully, this has improved over the past decade). Is it just representative of our small population base? Is it lower expectations?

In New Zealand cricket, the equation for greatness would seem to be a batting average higher than 40.00 and for bowling, an average of 30.00 and below – much less demanding numbers than the standard in other countries. Whatever it is, there’s still the hope that a Williamson, a Taylor or a Bracewell can swell the ranks of genuinely great New Zealand players.

Nikita Bastian is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • christy kimble on January 9, 2012, 10:05 GMT

    when the black caps got on the plane home from beating aussies they were given a standing ovation, there is a massive cricket fanbase however thay have been put off by a string of poor performances on the park and lack or a hadlee or cairns. has anyone seen the crowds they got in the mid 80s and around 2005? it was always jam-packed and there was a genuine interest. i will go to the test against SA in march knowing we will roundly thumped and probably embarrassed. there is a culture of only seeing sports teams that are winning, the football team in the aussie league gets 5000 people per week but at the semifinal, they got 30000!

  • christy kimble on January 9, 2012, 9:52 GMT

    i am extremely thankful that chris cairns chose cricket over rugby because he made the new zealand u-18 team. i am an incredibly passionate new zealand fan and have always dreamed i could live in a time where we had a truely world class player ala cairns or hadlee (im only 14.) there is so much hype over young players with lots of talent that when there talent is unfulfilled the new zealand cricket fan is hurt a little hurt a little more. there is so much hype over whether wagner, taylor, williamson, bracewell, and southee can become greats but chances tey won't and the void left in the heart of the fan will grow ever larger as they continue to stay at the bottom of the world rankings. i want more then just performing in world cups. i want greatness. but i won't get it.

  • muhammed umer lakhani on January 3, 2012, 7:08 GMT

    i am a pakistani and we have more than a fair share of greats in players like javed miandad, imran khan, waseem akram, waqar younus and the list goes on. but i have always liked the BC's cause they play like a team which in the end matters the most. thats what makes then BC's a great team rather than any BC being a great player. no doubt Richard Hadlee was a great cricketer but he never got all 20 wickets in a test or all ten in a one day, there was always someone at the other end picking up what was left. go BC's !!!!

  • Rohan on January 3, 2012, 6:23 GMT

    The Main issue with NZ cricket is that they cannot play outside NZ conditions and NZ conditions as a whole doesn't allow anyone to make massive hundreds. They only perform in Aussie because conditions are similar. They fail misserably in sub continent and other parts of the world. What NZ should do is prepare wickets to resemble other countries and get their players to adjust their style of approach. Then they will perform as others.

  • Srinath Sapar on January 3, 2012, 5:27 GMT

    Nice article, although I feel you have missed some points.

    B Mccullum deserves to be among the best keeper-batsmen in the world,you haven't mentioned him anywhere.

    I'd also rate D Vettori highly , among allrounders ,he has stood up everytime NZ top order has failed, also strikes at right times with his bowling.

    Reason I feel NZ havent performed consistently are- 1) Lack of sufficient international cricket being played. 2) Poor 1st class cricket pitches. I think NZ has tremendous potential and I hope they do well in coming years.

  • harry knackers on January 3, 2012, 4:58 GMT

    chris martin and danny morrison are the best batters ive seen ...they should open

  • redneck on January 3, 2012, 1:13 GMT

    as an aussie id say hadlee doesnt even get enough kudos for how good he was. this website put an all time test XI up last year and i couldnt believe he was overlooked for kepil dev??? i guess population counts in some fronts? i think crowe deserves to be called great. i remember him pounding us at the gabba in the 80's the same time hadlee was making us look like we didnt know which end to hold the bat with. crowe played in bowler friendly conditions more often than not and in a time when pakistan and the west indies attacks had more great bowlers in it than the entire world can put together at curret. avg of 45 in that eras as good as a 50 for me.

  • Dave on January 2, 2012, 23:59 GMT

    I think that it is unfair to state that Bond was unfilled without adding that several of his prime years were stolen from him, not from injury but because of the weakness of NZC to stand up to India. If NZ had him during this period he would more than likely have taken over 100 wickets and being part of the national set up may well have had access to better fitness coaches which may have extended his career.

    Also regarding Grimmett, if NZ was an international team when he started his career he may well have remained in NZ, however they were not and he had to travel to demonstrate his genius, making his international debut five years before NZ managed to do so. He should be considered as much an NZ great as Tony Wilding is in the tennis arena.

  • Brian Newham on January 2, 2012, 15:21 GMT

    Vettori may be best judged at the end of his career. If he plays test cricket for another four years his batting average could well rise to nearly 40.

  • AK on January 2, 2012, 15:20 GMT

    But - why is Nathan Astle discounted. In my opinion, he WAS one of the best cricketers to have ever played for NewZealand!

  • christy kimble on January 9, 2012, 10:05 GMT

    when the black caps got on the plane home from beating aussies they were given a standing ovation, there is a massive cricket fanbase however thay have been put off by a string of poor performances on the park and lack or a hadlee or cairns. has anyone seen the crowds they got in the mid 80s and around 2005? it was always jam-packed and there was a genuine interest. i will go to the test against SA in march knowing we will roundly thumped and probably embarrassed. there is a culture of only seeing sports teams that are winning, the football team in the aussie league gets 5000 people per week but at the semifinal, they got 30000!

  • christy kimble on January 9, 2012, 9:52 GMT

    i am extremely thankful that chris cairns chose cricket over rugby because he made the new zealand u-18 team. i am an incredibly passionate new zealand fan and have always dreamed i could live in a time where we had a truely world class player ala cairns or hadlee (im only 14.) there is so much hype over young players with lots of talent that when there talent is unfulfilled the new zealand cricket fan is hurt a little hurt a little more. there is so much hype over whether wagner, taylor, williamson, bracewell, and southee can become greats but chances tey won't and the void left in the heart of the fan will grow ever larger as they continue to stay at the bottom of the world rankings. i want more then just performing in world cups. i want greatness. but i won't get it.

  • muhammed umer lakhani on January 3, 2012, 7:08 GMT

    i am a pakistani and we have more than a fair share of greats in players like javed miandad, imran khan, waseem akram, waqar younus and the list goes on. but i have always liked the BC's cause they play like a team which in the end matters the most. thats what makes then BC's a great team rather than any BC being a great player. no doubt Richard Hadlee was a great cricketer but he never got all 20 wickets in a test or all ten in a one day, there was always someone at the other end picking up what was left. go BC's !!!!

  • Rohan on January 3, 2012, 6:23 GMT

    The Main issue with NZ cricket is that they cannot play outside NZ conditions and NZ conditions as a whole doesn't allow anyone to make massive hundreds. They only perform in Aussie because conditions are similar. They fail misserably in sub continent and other parts of the world. What NZ should do is prepare wickets to resemble other countries and get their players to adjust their style of approach. Then they will perform as others.

  • Srinath Sapar on January 3, 2012, 5:27 GMT

    Nice article, although I feel you have missed some points.

    B Mccullum deserves to be among the best keeper-batsmen in the world,you haven't mentioned him anywhere.

    I'd also rate D Vettori highly , among allrounders ,he has stood up everytime NZ top order has failed, also strikes at right times with his bowling.

    Reason I feel NZ havent performed consistently are- 1) Lack of sufficient international cricket being played. 2) Poor 1st class cricket pitches. I think NZ has tremendous potential and I hope they do well in coming years.

  • harry knackers on January 3, 2012, 4:58 GMT

    chris martin and danny morrison are the best batters ive seen ...they should open

  • redneck on January 3, 2012, 1:13 GMT

    as an aussie id say hadlee doesnt even get enough kudos for how good he was. this website put an all time test XI up last year and i couldnt believe he was overlooked for kepil dev??? i guess population counts in some fronts? i think crowe deserves to be called great. i remember him pounding us at the gabba in the 80's the same time hadlee was making us look like we didnt know which end to hold the bat with. crowe played in bowler friendly conditions more often than not and in a time when pakistan and the west indies attacks had more great bowlers in it than the entire world can put together at curret. avg of 45 in that eras as good as a 50 for me.

  • Dave on January 2, 2012, 23:59 GMT

    I think that it is unfair to state that Bond was unfilled without adding that several of his prime years were stolen from him, not from injury but because of the weakness of NZC to stand up to India. If NZ had him during this period he would more than likely have taken over 100 wickets and being part of the national set up may well have had access to better fitness coaches which may have extended his career.

    Also regarding Grimmett, if NZ was an international team when he started his career he may well have remained in NZ, however they were not and he had to travel to demonstrate his genius, making his international debut five years before NZ managed to do so. He should be considered as much an NZ great as Tony Wilding is in the tennis arena.

  • Brian Newham on January 2, 2012, 15:21 GMT

    Vettori may be best judged at the end of his career. If he plays test cricket for another four years his batting average could well rise to nearly 40.

  • AK on January 2, 2012, 15:20 GMT

    But - why is Nathan Astle discounted. In my opinion, he WAS one of the best cricketers to have ever played for NewZealand!

  • Tom on January 2, 2012, 15:00 GMT

    I agree with Chris: 50.00 is a very high cut-off for the label of "great", and while it might be a fair measure for the last few years, it's very harsh if applied to anything much more than that. By that measure, Mark Taylor, Mark Waugh, David Gower and VVS Laxman would all miss out, for instance.

  • y.s.m.reddy on January 2, 2012, 10:27 GMT

    there is no doubt it is cairns.he is an outstanding allrounder.

  • Anonymous on January 2, 2012, 9:33 GMT

    @ Jon. I have to say that comment is spot-on. Absolutely agree that we should (Australia and New Zealand) have a trans-tasman domestic competition. I think it would enhance the ability of both cricketing nations, although admittedly it would mostly be cricket NZ's gain. In Rugby you have the super 15 comp, which Australian and NZ domestic teams compete with each other, along with SA. In the Netball the Soccer and Basketball you have the same scenario. So why on earth they wouldn't have a domestic trans-tasman cricket competition really is beyond me. Very good to point to point out.

  • David on January 2, 2012, 9:20 GMT

    As a 16 year old, current All Black fullback and former CD age group cricket rep Israel Dagg was clocked at 143kph. New Zealand cricket doesn't get the prime athletes.

    I think Daniel Vettori is criminally underrated. Yes, Richard Hadlee is New Zealand's greatest ever player, but difference between him and Vettori is probably closer than you might think. I'd say that Paddles gained far more of an advantage from playing half his games in New Zealand than Vettori does. It's hard to recall many New Zealand test pitches that offered much turn over the years, whereas there are many instances of wickets that did a bit for the medium-fast bowlers. The most amusing example is the 2002-2003 two test series against India. Dan basically played as a specialist number nine and didn't bowl, while such illustrious, fearsome pace merchants as Daryl Tuffey and Jacob Oram took 24 wickets between them. Once we get some advanced stats that include pitch factors, Dan's true greatness will be revealed.

  • Name on January 2, 2012, 9:05 GMT

    Vettori is the greatest NZ player

  • Kiranraj on January 2, 2012, 8:42 GMT

    It's a decent article. Without doubt Martin Croew was the best kiwi batsmen. But i do feel the views on Daniel Vettori is a bit harsh. In age of small boundaries and big bats his bowling average of 33 especially in newzealnd conditions is superb! Harbhajan Singh averages 32 bowling on turning wickets, Graeme Swann is 29, Anil Kumble is close to 29 so for a modern day spinner threshhold of 25 is unfair also judging spinner not taking into account the conditions & circumstances in which they bowl is churlish. Secondly Daniel Vettori has been averaging 45+ in the last four years!!! which is probably better than any other kiwi top order batsmen. Just coming back to Vettori's ability and effectiveness as a spinner, He made (only kiwi) to the World XI in the Super Test played in 2005 against Australia... he was not a great player he certainly would not have beaten some very high quality spinners to that position!

  • David Furrows on January 2, 2012, 4:45 GMT

    Obviously Hadlee is the best bowler, Crowe is the best batsman. I would assert that Chris Cairns surpasses Hadlee as the best all-rounder (and 3rd best NZ cricketer of all time) and I would place Parore above Smith as wicketkeeper-batsman, as Smith had trouble seeing off Warren Lees. Our problems are two-fold. Firstly, there isn't enough money to keep the likes of Fleming, Parore, Cairns et al playing for as long as Langer, Gilchrist or McGrath. Secondly, NZ Cricket vastly over-values ODIs and T20 cricket and so our players simply don't play enough Tests to make their reputations and hone their techniques. From 1994-2000 there should have been mountains of wickets for an attack of Cairns - Morrison - Nash latterly backed up by Vettori. Yet we played so rarely that they never got onto the paddock together. It's very sad. Doug Bracewell will be lucky if he's played 20 Tests by the time the 2015 World Cup comes around, while any other country plays around a dozen per year.

  • jeff.w on January 2, 2012, 4:32 GMT

    Some major sports you have missed where NZ perform highly and have current world champions in yachting, rowing, triathalon

  • John WL on January 2, 2012, 0:34 GMT

    For NZ to get stronger they need big brother Australia to help. Absolutely invite a franchise from there into the BBL. It's helped with Rugby (the other way round), Rugby League (Warriors), Netball, Basketball and Football (Soccer).

  • Vikas on January 1, 2012, 23:20 GMT

    Is the avg of 25.00 a benchmark for a bowler to be considered great? 10yrs ago,Yes but it is impossible now!If 25.00 is the benchmark only Dale Steyn is a great bowler now.The pitches are dead and the game has heavily tilted towards the batsmen.So an avg of 30.00 is as good as an avg of 25.00 before!

  • vikas on January 1, 2012, 23:16 GMT

    Martin Crowe's avg is 45.00. But that were a testament of the times when conditions in cricket were different.There were bowling greats ,the pitches had more juice and the game had something for the bowlers unlike the times that we live in today.Thilan Samaraweera and Younis Khan avg more than 50.00 today but do they really compare with Martin Crowe? The answer is NO!

  • Al Johnston on January 1, 2012, 23:15 GMT

    Pete, please read the article more closely. It clearly refers to the first John Reid, John Richard Reid, born in 1928 _ not John Fulton Reid, born in 1956.

  • Keith King on January 1, 2012, 23:01 GMT

    Thanks for your comments. The point of this article was to show that while NZ has produced many fine international cricketers, the likes of Richardson, Wright, Jones and Astle, it has struggled to produce the genuine great, the match-winner, the player that can routinely change a game. I guess that’s why I didn’t focus on Vettori too much in this article. He is a true great in New Zealand cricket but all too often, he scores runs to save face as he is seldom in a position to win games due to the weakness of NZ’s batting. As a bowler, I guess it’s a similar story. He often battles away manfully, acting as both a strike and stock bowler and while very good, he often struggles to bowl teams out in the third and fourth innings, which I would guess is one of the true definitions of a great spinner. Parore, Smith and Wadsworth could be said to be victims of the post-Gilchrist era, where keepers now have to excel at batting and not just be very good keepers as all three of the aforementioned.

  • Anonymous on January 1, 2012, 21:36 GMT

    As an Aussie, I was in NZ last month for 3 weeks, my first visit there and despite media coverage of the Test series against Australia, I was shocked by how little exposure cricket has in NZ - I wanted to buy a BlackCaps top for my nephew and simply could not find one, sports stores, department stores just don't have them. Also I noted in news agencies, there were absolutely nil cricket magazines, DVD's or books. I wonder how young players or young minds are going to be encouraged there.

  • alex on January 1, 2012, 19:04 GMT

    DOUG BRACEWELL is NEXT GREAT NZ

  • Paul Varley on January 1, 2012, 17:37 GMT

    I like New Zealand. I'd say they're my second favourite team after my home team of England. Their cricketers have always struck me as a pleasant, knowledgeable and good-humoured bunch.

    But it's always going to be tricky for them to find talent when the country has such a small population and when the sporting culture is overwhelmingly dominated by rugby. Still, they make the best use of what they have, as evidenced by all those World Cup semi-finals.

    Speaking of making the best of what they have, Stephen Fleming deserves praise as a world class captain. And as noted, they have a strong history of producing all-rounders - Hadlee, Cairns, Vettori and so on.

    And let's not forget that it wasn't too long ago that England would have killed for a group of players who averaged over 40 with the bat and under 30 with the ball!

  • Shahedul Azam on January 1, 2012, 17:35 GMT

    I would say as a player, it is Daniel Vettori who comes after Sir Richard Hadlee since he is the only one guy to have made it so long with so much consistency. However, if it is about the talent, then Chris Cairns and Shane Bond will not at all be behind Daniel Vettori since both of them were capable match winners despite the fact that none of them was consistent in terms of playing a continuously for a long period of time, specially the 'amazing' Shane Bond. However, if it is about commitment and dedication, then no one can match up Stephen Fleming, who could just fought it alone with a bunch of non-stars against any team of the world.

  • abhishek on January 1, 2012, 12:06 GMT

    a nice read, but no mention of nathan astle??????

  • Jon on January 1, 2012, 11:13 GMT

    Can I say, as an Australian, that despite the banter, I think Australians respect NZ for the fact that you guys really do punch above your weight, not only in sport but also in innovation on the business front as well. But, getting to the article, I would like to see NZ provincial teams playing in the domestic Australian competitions - make it an ANZ competition - and allow players from both countries to play in any team (possibly with a local quota required) much like the BBL. This would expose NZ's to a bigger, and with no insult intended, a stronger 1st class comp, that would develop more of those greats you discuss. In my opinion, NZ would then be able to add to the list of Hadlee and Bond!

  • Chris on January 1, 2012, 11:11 GMT

    Average of 50 with the bat required to be a great? These things are all relative as at that benchmark only Alan Border, Viv Richards, Sunil Gavaskar and Javed Miandad make it out of the 80's, the likes of Crowe, Greenidge and Gooch don't make the cut?

    Not too sure about placing Martin Donnelley as 'good' as opposed to 'great', his record and the quotes from his contemporaries suggest a player along the lines of Barry Richards (great player whose career was cut short by other events).

  • Gizza on January 1, 2012, 9:28 GMT

    "In New Zealand cricket, the equation for greatness would seem to be a batting average higher than 40.00 and for bowling, an average of 30.00 and below" - That's not very undemanding. For most countries, it is probably a batting average over 50 and a bowling average under 30 but they will likewise not have many of those who also had consistent success at the international level.

    The rugby issue is interesting. I have been to New Zealand but just for a holiday and not long enough to observe the sporting culture. But I suspect while the white New Zealand population play both rugby and cricket, the Maori and Pacific Islander population aren't engaged enough in cricket and only play rugby.

    The paucity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait cricketers in Australia does not affect them as much as they are only 2% of Oz's population while NZ's indigenous and similar ethnic groups are 15% of their population. Increasing popularity of cricket among them will increase the talented player pool.

  • Ryan on January 1, 2012, 9:24 GMT

    If you are going to use 4 significant figures for stats why are you rounding to the nearest whole number (ie 28.00). Redundant use of zeros, either round (28) or don't (28.12).

  • am_crazydiamond on January 1, 2012, 9:05 GMT

    Though I agree with most of the article I dont agree in the writers assessment of Vettori. I think he is an international great and one of the most underrated cricketers in the world, and the fact that his strike rate isnt better isnt because of talent, it is because New Zealnds bowling attack is so weak that the opposition usually does play out his overs and milk the rest. But whenever he plays against the top teams, his bowling always asks questions. By the way, i'm an Indian fan but I love the way Vettori bowls and its enjoyable to see some of the top batsmen of the world struggle against him.

  • Amit on January 1, 2012, 6:17 GMT

    Cairns is certainly among the great in my book. It's not just the number (which are great enuf!) but the ability to single-handedly change the complexion of the games in the course of a few over, wither with the bat or the ball. If Injury weren't factor, he could have been equal to Hadlee (better batsman, inferior bowler)

  • carrmon on January 1, 2012, 2:40 GMT

    Hello! Well written article, although I think that New Zealanders of any sporting talent will be drawn to rugby because of the draw of the All Blacks; I'm sure Dan Carter would have made a wonderful batsman or bowler if he had concentrated on the skills over those of rugby. Anyway, from a grammatical position, 'Try and' in the third last paragraph is incorrect, you would 'try to.' This wouldn't usually bother me, but it's 2012.

  • Junaid Zaidi on January 1, 2012, 2:40 GMT

    A very good analysis, food for for thought for NZ. They need to play more tests. Junaid Zaidi

  • Jeff on January 1, 2012, 2:21 GMT

    Good article. I think you may have hit the nail on the head when you say that New Zealand's best athletes tend to play rugby. Undoubtedly some of the top athletes do play cricket, but given the option of pursuing a career in rugby or cricket I'd say 90% of New Zealanders would tend to go for rugby if they had the ability. Look no further than a couple of months ago. The two best schoolboy cricketers in New Zealand have both taken up contracts with rugby teams and will most likely be lost to the game of cricket.

    Also, I think when you speak of Vettori it is important to remember that for the first five or so years of his career he wasn't a batter and didn't average very highly. Over the second half of his career he was averaged over 40 with the bat which is very good for a bowling all rounder. At his best he would rate up there with the great all rounders.

  • Imran on December 31, 2011, 18:20 GMT

    you have got to hail them rather than bashing them.They are such a small country and they have achieved so much success.They're the best fielding team in this world,hands down.All Hail The BlackCaps.

  • Anonymous on December 31, 2011, 17:51 GMT

    I believe nathan astle should also get a mention here........

  • Sami on December 31, 2011, 17:31 GMT

    Martin Crow I can bet for him, saw him ist playing in 92 world cup ........... He looked the real boss, pulling and hooking the likes of Wasim & Donald at that time when they were at their best ...

  • A Mirza on December 31, 2011, 12:10 GMT

    Thank you for an insightful article. I have always admired New Zealand and they haven't fared so badly in international tournaments. Nathan Astle could have been true great had it been for a little more consistency.

  • shane que hee on December 31, 2011, 11:31 GMT

    You forgot wicketkeepers!

    I believe there some great (world-class) wicketkeepers--Ian Smith and Adam Parore. Both were pretty good bats too.

  • James Gordon on December 31, 2011, 11:14 GMT

    The case of New Zealand just proves that international comparisons, at least statistically, don't work. If the batsman at the other end is out and the fielders don't catch as well, the putative greats in batting and bowling will not be realised. Hence the importance of good cricket writers and verbal historians of the game.

  • SANIT on December 31, 2011, 10:30 GMT

    CHRIS MARTIN IS ONE OF THE BEST BOLLER OF NEWZELAND

  • Shannon McGhie on December 31, 2011, 10:19 GMT

    I enjoyed reading this, India is a country with well in excess of 200 times the new zealand population, India's talent whilst great I believe comes from culture and the right attitude towards cricket, something New Zealand as an arrogant sporting nation seemed to of missed over the years, I only hope further greats will reach their potential so future articles like this can atleast list another great, one we in new zealand can be proud of.

  • praveen on December 31, 2011, 8:54 GMT

    chris cairns is the best after Richard Hadlee

  • M BASHIR ALAM on December 31, 2011, 8:18 GMT

    AFTER HADLEE I THINK VETTORI IS NO.2 IN THE LIST OF ALL TIME BEST PLAYERS OF BEWZEALAND.

  • Mark Dalgleish on December 31, 2011, 1:38 GMT

    Agree on Cairns. Injury also cut into his effectiveness, but on his day, he was as good as any allrounder in the game. I didn't quite realise his stats were so good. Surprised you didn't mention another pillar of NZ cricket who had a long and fruitful Test career - Andy Caddick!

  • N Christensen on December 31, 2011, 1:05 GMT

    Some excellent and insightful thoughts. It is without doubt a serious problem that no NZ batsman has ever managed to average over 50 throughout an entire career (e.g. more than a few matches). One of those and one bowler of similar ability to Bond would make such a difference.

  • BJC1 on December 31, 2011, 0:02 GMT

    Good analysis, and most interesting. I would suggest Stephen Fleming deserves higher praise, given his superb slip catching and tactical acumen as captain, alongside his test average 40 and status as top test run scorer.

  • Iftakhar Mahesar on December 30, 2011, 21:58 GMT

    This is a very well written article. I am sure there must have been a lot of hard work put in to it. You made a very good analysis of the New Zealand's cricket history. I loved the introduction as well. It would be great if you could write an article on Pakistani players as well. That would be interesting as I believe that Pakistan's victories have mostly been achieved due to individual greatness rather than team effort.

  • peter on December 30, 2011, 21:29 GMT

    It is very unlikely that any NZ bowler will come close to R.HADLEE.

  • JG2704 on December 30, 2011, 21:12 GMT

    Can only really comment on cricketers in my time of following the game. Always thought Martin Crowe was an outstanding player

  • Charles ray on December 30, 2011, 20:00 GMT

    Nice you tried to draw a legend out of a team known for bits and pieses of cricketers. Greatness doesn't come by stats but it is shown with attitude. Prolific run machiner like hussey. Robert key. Stuart law. Brad hodgehardly got a chance to play in their hay days. Langer and slater lost places in spite beeing quick to score. With all conditions in to consideration i would go with daniel vettory as d next great to hadlea. And you forgot john wright. What about geof allott an able ally to Mr. Bond? Ross Taylor and kane Williemson can come up there hopefully. All the best black caps and a happy new year.

  • Brad on December 30, 2011, 19:45 GMT

    Just wondering why Daniel Vettori's name isn't featured more often here?

  • obaidul akbar on December 30, 2011, 19:34 GMT

    I don't agree with you what you say about Chris Cairns. I am a Bangladeshi and I am a huge fan of Chris Cairns. The guy who obviously has got better talent than Richard Hadlee but underachieved due to excessive injury. Otherwise player like him played minimum double test match and oneday which he actually played in his entire career. What have you thinked if he played this amount of match or what his career might be look like? May be then his stats should look far better than Tendulkar or some other players who claimed great. You guys couldn't have celebrated without him to win Knockout tournament. Please recognize him as great and same as Vettori too.

  • pete on December 30, 2011, 17:17 GMT

    Please check your research, John F Reid played 31 innings and had an average of 46.28 (more than Crowe). I also think that Andrew Jones deserves a mention (average of 44.27 from 39 tests), as does Mark Richardson (average of 44.77 from 38 tests). All three achieved more than at least one of the batsmen you mentioned.

    You have also forgot about glovemen. McCullum could've been the best keeper-batsman in the world if he hadn't given it away and Wadsworth, Smith and Parore were all world class keepers (in terms of pure wicketkeeping, as opposed to keeping and batting).

  • Andrew McLean on December 30, 2011, 15:32 GMT

    Hi Keith, thanks for this excellent article. I think it sums up perfectly the correlation between our success and failure over time. Richard Hadlee was exceptional, not just for his skill but also his fitness - he only really got injured towards the end of his career. It's no coincidence that we were unbeaten in Tests at home in the 1980s, plus had good success abroad. This would never have happened without Hadlee. Bond was a late starter with immense ability and enthusiasm but, unlike Hadlee, he was forever injured so we never had the full benefit of his outstading results.

  • Vince on December 30, 2011, 12:20 GMT

    I think one reason might be that the BCs have always played as a team, rather than being built around a few stars. I think you are less likely to produce a great that way but I do think we punch above our weight in World Cups.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Vince on December 30, 2011, 12:20 GMT

    I think one reason might be that the BCs have always played as a team, rather than being built around a few stars. I think you are less likely to produce a great that way but I do think we punch above our weight in World Cups.

  • Andrew McLean on December 30, 2011, 15:32 GMT

    Hi Keith, thanks for this excellent article. I think it sums up perfectly the correlation between our success and failure over time. Richard Hadlee was exceptional, not just for his skill but also his fitness - he only really got injured towards the end of his career. It's no coincidence that we were unbeaten in Tests at home in the 1980s, plus had good success abroad. This would never have happened without Hadlee. Bond was a late starter with immense ability and enthusiasm but, unlike Hadlee, he was forever injured so we never had the full benefit of his outstading results.

  • pete on December 30, 2011, 17:17 GMT

    Please check your research, John F Reid played 31 innings and had an average of 46.28 (more than Crowe). I also think that Andrew Jones deserves a mention (average of 44.27 from 39 tests), as does Mark Richardson (average of 44.77 from 38 tests). All three achieved more than at least one of the batsmen you mentioned.

    You have also forgot about glovemen. McCullum could've been the best keeper-batsman in the world if he hadn't given it away and Wadsworth, Smith and Parore were all world class keepers (in terms of pure wicketkeeping, as opposed to keeping and batting).

  • obaidul akbar on December 30, 2011, 19:34 GMT

    I don't agree with you what you say about Chris Cairns. I am a Bangladeshi and I am a huge fan of Chris Cairns. The guy who obviously has got better talent than Richard Hadlee but underachieved due to excessive injury. Otherwise player like him played minimum double test match and oneday which he actually played in his entire career. What have you thinked if he played this amount of match or what his career might be look like? May be then his stats should look far better than Tendulkar or some other players who claimed great. You guys couldn't have celebrated without him to win Knockout tournament. Please recognize him as great and same as Vettori too.

  • Brad on December 30, 2011, 19:45 GMT

    Just wondering why Daniel Vettori's name isn't featured more often here?

  • Charles ray on December 30, 2011, 20:00 GMT

    Nice you tried to draw a legend out of a team known for bits and pieses of cricketers. Greatness doesn't come by stats but it is shown with attitude. Prolific run machiner like hussey. Robert key. Stuart law. Brad hodgehardly got a chance to play in their hay days. Langer and slater lost places in spite beeing quick to score. With all conditions in to consideration i would go with daniel vettory as d next great to hadlea. And you forgot john wright. What about geof allott an able ally to Mr. Bond? Ross Taylor and kane Williemson can come up there hopefully. All the best black caps and a happy new year.

  • JG2704 on December 30, 2011, 21:12 GMT

    Can only really comment on cricketers in my time of following the game. Always thought Martin Crowe was an outstanding player

  • peter on December 30, 2011, 21:29 GMT

    It is very unlikely that any NZ bowler will come close to R.HADLEE.

  • Iftakhar Mahesar on December 30, 2011, 21:58 GMT

    This is a very well written article. I am sure there must have been a lot of hard work put in to it. You made a very good analysis of the New Zealand's cricket history. I loved the introduction as well. It would be great if you could write an article on Pakistani players as well. That would be interesting as I believe that Pakistan's victories have mostly been achieved due to individual greatness rather than team effort.

  • BJC1 on December 31, 2011, 0:02 GMT

    Good analysis, and most interesting. I would suggest Stephen Fleming deserves higher praise, given his superb slip catching and tactical acumen as captain, alongside his test average 40 and status as top test run scorer.