|Photos||Video & Audio||Blogs||Statistics||Archive||Fantasy||Mobile|
The toughie, the perfectionist, the artist, and the honest triers. Which two are your picks?
September 1, 2009
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
|Comments have now been closed for this article
Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara talk about the World T20 win, and why their fans are special
ESPNcricinfo XI: Cricket has spawned more books than almost any other sport. Here are Steven Lynch's favourites
Ian Chappell: It's clear that for the ICC votes mean more than results
Tony Cozier: While the 375 had a sense of inevitability to it, the 400 came amid a backdrop of strikes and the threat of a whitewash
Jonathan Wilson: Football may be the dominant sport in Argentina today but it wasn't the first sport the British brought here
The controversy surrounding the IPL has done little to deter fans in UAE from flocking the stadiums, as they gear up to watch the Indian stars in action for the first time since 2006
ESPNcricinfo picks five players for whom this IPL is of bigger significance
Plays of the day from the IPL match between Kolkata Knight Riders and Mumbai Indians in Abu Dhabi
Plays of the day from the IPL match between Chennai Super Kings and Kings XI Punjab in Abu Dhabi
It's difficult to beat a huge talent base exposed to good facilities, and possessed of a long history of competing as a nation
Having the top Associate team play the lowest-ranked Test side without the threat of relegation shows how votes mean more to the ICC than results
Twenty years ago this week, Brian Lara became Test cricket's highest scorer, but he almost didn't make it
If they are to live up to their potential in next year's World Cup at home, they need to look within and search for inspiration pronto