Opening the debate
We have done our job. We have picked the selectors: 10 men who have either played, administered, chronicled, or otherwise written about, the game in New Zealand - or in some cases done all of the above. Former selectors, veteran writers and commentators, and a few current ones, will ensure balance in the effort to select the best XI that could represent New Zealand in a Test match.
From Ted Badcock to Martin Guptill, 243 men have represented New Zealand in Tests, which makes the task easier than selecting, say, an England XI (645 Test caps) or Australia XI (411). But it's strictly only relatively easier: pruning it to a shortlist of 30-odd has been hard enough. Then, does Bert Sutcliffe qualify as an opener or in the middle order? Do we put John R Reid in the middle-order category or in the allrounders? Where does Richard Hadlee qualify? There are disagreements going on as we speak; there will be more as these shortlists and the final XI are revealed.
So let the debates begin, in the openers' category to begin with. How to pit a legend who played just 10 Tests against someone who played 82 and had numbers to show for it is as fine a debate as any. The opening slots may not be big enough for both Stewie Dempster and John Wright: Glenn Turner and Sutcliffe are two of the other candidates. Where do Graham Dowling and Bruce Edgar stand? What does Mark Richardson's bloody-mindedness at the top count for? His average of 44.71 is the third-best among New Zealanders who scored at least 1000 Test runs. But this can't be a selection based on pure stats or number of matches won; this calls for more of a value judgment.
Sutcliffe, who played both as an opener and in the middle order, makes it an extremely tough decision to make. As an opener he has the record to challenge the finest of them, but by virtue of being able to bat in the middle order he provides options. This choice will determine whether we get an extra player from this category into the XI, or from the middle order, which is for another day.
We'll be publishing an all-time New Zealand XI based on readers' votes to go with our jury's XI. To vote for your top New Zealand openers click here
Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo