Openers September 1, 2009

Opening the debate

The toughie, the perfectionist, the artist, and the honest triers. Which two are your picks?
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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.

The contenders

Stewie Dempster New Zealand's first centurion and first world-class batsman. When Wisden named him a Cricketer of the Year in 1932, it said he was the best batsman New Zealand had produced. Dempster played only 10 Tests, averaging 65.72, and twice scored three centuries in three innings for Leicestershire.

Graham Dowling Described by Dick Brittenden as a "watchful, sound, often elegant batsman, a precise cutter, strong on the pull, a fluent driver through the covers". A superb fielder and leader by example, he scored 239 in his first game as captain, leading New Zealand to their first win over India, and averaged 31.16 over 31 Tests, with three centuries.

Glenn Turner New Zealand's first real professional, Turner brought a professional's perfectionism to his batting. Among the best batsman of his era, he was not ashamed of his ambitiousness either. Starting as a one-dimensional defensive batsman, he reinvented himself so he could play any shot on demand and score as fast as any of his contemporaries.

John Wright His sound opening capabilities were critical to the most successful New Zealand side - the one of the eighties. Wright scored centuries against all six opponents available at the time, and became the first man from his country to make over 4000 Test runs.

Bruce Edgar He played the fastest of bowlers straight and with assurance, and formed a solid all-lefty association with Wright - against, among others, the West Indies pace quartet and Lillee, Thomson and Alderman.

Mark Richardson Never mind his sprinting in the Revolting Lycra Suit, the SLA-turned-opener brought all the seriousness and dourness an opening batsman needed to survive for hours against challenging bowling. Richardson faced on average 194 balls per Test, the most among all New Zealanders.

Bert Sutcliffe Dashing and correct, Sutcliffe was one of New Zealand's best batsmen ever. His affable personality made him hugely popular. Rivalled only by Neil Harvey, Sutcliffe was the finest left-hand batsman of his era. He scored four of his centuries while opening, averaging 45.20.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • mjp2 on September 8, 2009, 12:10 GMT

    1. Turner 2. Dempster 3. Sutcliffe 4. M Crowe 5. Donnelly 6. C Cairns 7. Wadsworth 8. R Hadlee 9. Vettori 10. Cowie 11. Bond Dempster, Sutcliffe and Donelly I never saw but their reputations (and averages) have stood the test of time and the favourable comments rank them not as just best of NZ but also rated world class. Wadsworth was a great keeper, a great competitor and a useful batsman, his time cut short by an early death. I thought about Bruce Taylor for Cairns, being a more reliable player with better bowling stats and still a powerful and useful bat. Cowie has great stats ( a better bowling avg than Hadlee) and Bradman's scalp, though limited opportunities in tests. The only weakness in the side is Vettori. Our best but not world class for wicket taking.

  • raghanna on September 7, 2009, 14:45 GMT

    My Team: Turner, Sutcliffe, Crowe, John R Reid, Fleming, Parore, R.Hadlee, S. Bond, D.Vettori, Chris Cairns, I. Smith

  • ain73 on September 7, 2009, 14:07 GMT

    This will be my all time NZ team: 1. GM Turner - NZs most prolific first-class run scorer, 103 first-class centuries. 2. B Sutcliffe - Simply one of NZ's best ever players, and he was best first opening the batting. Held the world record highest first-class score by a left-hander for decades (385). 3. SP Fleming - Makes the team because he's the best captain NZ's ever had. 4. MD Crowe - Best NZ batsman ever. Most test 100s, NZ's highest first class average, NZ's highest test score.....etc 5.JD Ryder young talented left hender with great potantiol 6. CL Cairns - NZ's best batting allrounder 7. BB McCullum will be my wk with great batting talent 8. RJ Hadlee - NZ's best bowling allrounder & NZ's best ever bowler. 9. DL Vettori - Great left arm spinner - outstanding batter too (better than any other NZ spin bowler 10. SE Bond - NZ's most effective and controlled bowler of those who could bowl upward of 150 km/h. 11. DL Morrison another fastman.

  • plow on September 6, 2009, 18:48 GMT

    I have so much to say about these comments so far, especially about keepers, but since we've just started an all time eleven startin with openers I'll start with openers.

    1 Glenn Turner - automatic number 1. 100 first class centuries, you need not say more. 2. John Wright - inches before Mark Richardson. John played during the era of the West Indies, was able to play well in both tests and ODI's and was also captain at times and has gone on to be one of the worlds most respected coaches. He obviously has a great brain for the game, can adapt and tough it out. He was crucial to NZ's most successful era. Mark richardsons career was quite short aswel, so that counted against him.

  • Rolfardeo on September 6, 2009, 10:37 GMT

    I tend to agree with alot of what those above have said; however, I think that perhaps I would pick one less bowler than most. Anyway here is my team:

    1.Glenn Turner, 2. Stewie Dempster, 3. Andrew Jones, 4. Martin Crowe, 5. Stephen Flemming (Capt.), 6. Burt Sutcliffe, 7. A Parore, 8. Chris Cairns, 9. Richard Hadlee, 10. Daniel Vettori, 11. Shane Bond.

    I think that most of these players pick themselves in an alltime team. Though I am sure that many would disagree with my final XI. :-)

  • INPG on September 4, 2009, 13:04 GMT

    1. John Wright , 2. Glenn Turner , 3. Stefen Fleming (C) , 4. Martin Crowe , 5. Bert Sutcliffe , 6. Chris Cairns, 7. Ian Smith , 8. Richard Hadlee, 9. Dan Vettori , 10. Shane Bond, 11. Danny Morrison

  • Quip on September 4, 2009, 6:43 GMT

    jkc502: you are a shrewd judge. Each of these selections seems to me justified in terms of historical significance, calibre, impact, reputation and achievement - though, arguably, with respect to the last of these criteria, Donnelly and Bond have had a somewhat limited international career. Moreover, I would agree with the reasons you give. Until recently, I had Dempster at 3, but Fleming's durability and captaincy warrant preference. Prior to 2000 I also had John Ried at 6, and Taylor as yet another effective pace bowler who could bat - but now Bond along with Cowie deserves to be considered as historically the best of the pace bowlers other than Hadlee.

  • symbionic on September 3, 2009, 12:04 GMT

    jkc502 - your team is practically the same as mine, but just can't decide whether John R Reid should be in there instead of Chris Cairns, or maybe Donnelly. Fleming is in there because of all NZ batsmen who have batted at no. 3 he has the 2nd best average - John F Reid has best average but I think Fleming's the better batsmen plus had captaincy burden.

  • PrinzPaulEugen on September 3, 2009, 11:38 GMT

    This blog was supposed to be about openers, but that seems to have blown to the four winds. There are 5 players that, for mine, should be guaranteed a spot in the Kiwi team of all time: Sir RJ Hadlee. MD Crowe. DL Vettori. SE Bond. And AC Parore.

  • GOOCHIE333 on September 3, 2009, 8:06 GMT

    J.Wright, G.Turner, M.Crowe, S.Flemming (c), John Reid, A.Jones, I.Smith, R.Hadlee,C.Cairns,D.Vettori, L.Cairns

  • mjp2 on September 8, 2009, 12:10 GMT

    1. Turner 2. Dempster 3. Sutcliffe 4. M Crowe 5. Donnelly 6. C Cairns 7. Wadsworth 8. R Hadlee 9. Vettori 10. Cowie 11. Bond Dempster, Sutcliffe and Donelly I never saw but their reputations (and averages) have stood the test of time and the favourable comments rank them not as just best of NZ but also rated world class. Wadsworth was a great keeper, a great competitor and a useful batsman, his time cut short by an early death. I thought about Bruce Taylor for Cairns, being a more reliable player with better bowling stats and still a powerful and useful bat. Cowie has great stats ( a better bowling avg than Hadlee) and Bradman's scalp, though limited opportunities in tests. The only weakness in the side is Vettori. Our best but not world class for wicket taking.

  • raghanna on September 7, 2009, 14:45 GMT

    My Team: Turner, Sutcliffe, Crowe, John R Reid, Fleming, Parore, R.Hadlee, S. Bond, D.Vettori, Chris Cairns, I. Smith

  • ain73 on September 7, 2009, 14:07 GMT

    This will be my all time NZ team: 1. GM Turner - NZs most prolific first-class run scorer, 103 first-class centuries. 2. B Sutcliffe - Simply one of NZ's best ever players, and he was best first opening the batting. Held the world record highest first-class score by a left-hander for decades (385). 3. SP Fleming - Makes the team because he's the best captain NZ's ever had. 4. MD Crowe - Best NZ batsman ever. Most test 100s, NZ's highest first class average, NZ's highest test score.....etc 5.JD Ryder young talented left hender with great potantiol 6. CL Cairns - NZ's best batting allrounder 7. BB McCullum will be my wk with great batting talent 8. RJ Hadlee - NZ's best bowling allrounder & NZ's best ever bowler. 9. DL Vettori - Great left arm spinner - outstanding batter too (better than any other NZ spin bowler 10. SE Bond - NZ's most effective and controlled bowler of those who could bowl upward of 150 km/h. 11. DL Morrison another fastman.

  • plow on September 6, 2009, 18:48 GMT

    I have so much to say about these comments so far, especially about keepers, but since we've just started an all time eleven startin with openers I'll start with openers.

    1 Glenn Turner - automatic number 1. 100 first class centuries, you need not say more. 2. John Wright - inches before Mark Richardson. John played during the era of the West Indies, was able to play well in both tests and ODI's and was also captain at times and has gone on to be one of the worlds most respected coaches. He obviously has a great brain for the game, can adapt and tough it out. He was crucial to NZ's most successful era. Mark richardsons career was quite short aswel, so that counted against him.

  • Rolfardeo on September 6, 2009, 10:37 GMT

    I tend to agree with alot of what those above have said; however, I think that perhaps I would pick one less bowler than most. Anyway here is my team:

    1.Glenn Turner, 2. Stewie Dempster, 3. Andrew Jones, 4. Martin Crowe, 5. Stephen Flemming (Capt.), 6. Burt Sutcliffe, 7. A Parore, 8. Chris Cairns, 9. Richard Hadlee, 10. Daniel Vettori, 11. Shane Bond.

    I think that most of these players pick themselves in an alltime team. Though I am sure that many would disagree with my final XI. :-)

  • INPG on September 4, 2009, 13:04 GMT

    1. John Wright , 2. Glenn Turner , 3. Stefen Fleming (C) , 4. Martin Crowe , 5. Bert Sutcliffe , 6. Chris Cairns, 7. Ian Smith , 8. Richard Hadlee, 9. Dan Vettori , 10. Shane Bond, 11. Danny Morrison

  • Quip on September 4, 2009, 6:43 GMT

    jkc502: you are a shrewd judge. Each of these selections seems to me justified in terms of historical significance, calibre, impact, reputation and achievement - though, arguably, with respect to the last of these criteria, Donnelly and Bond have had a somewhat limited international career. Moreover, I would agree with the reasons you give. Until recently, I had Dempster at 3, but Fleming's durability and captaincy warrant preference. Prior to 2000 I also had John Ried at 6, and Taylor as yet another effective pace bowler who could bat - but now Bond along with Cowie deserves to be considered as historically the best of the pace bowlers other than Hadlee.

  • symbionic on September 3, 2009, 12:04 GMT

    jkc502 - your team is practically the same as mine, but just can't decide whether John R Reid should be in there instead of Chris Cairns, or maybe Donnelly. Fleming is in there because of all NZ batsmen who have batted at no. 3 he has the 2nd best average - John F Reid has best average but I think Fleming's the better batsmen plus had captaincy burden.

  • PrinzPaulEugen on September 3, 2009, 11:38 GMT

    This blog was supposed to be about openers, but that seems to have blown to the four winds. There are 5 players that, for mine, should be guaranteed a spot in the Kiwi team of all time: Sir RJ Hadlee. MD Crowe. DL Vettori. SE Bond. And AC Parore.

  • GOOCHIE333 on September 3, 2009, 8:06 GMT

    J.Wright, G.Turner, M.Crowe, S.Flemming (c), John Reid, A.Jones, I.Smith, R.Hadlee,C.Cairns,D.Vettori, L.Cairns

  • Andy500265 on September 3, 2009, 7:50 GMT

    I'll try and think of the best side I can, getting 11 will be interesting though.

    1. CS Dempster, 2. GM Turner, 3. MP Donnelly, 4. MD Crowe, 5. B Sutcliffe, 6. CL Cairns, 7. AC Parore (wk), 8. RJ Hadlee, 9. DL Vettori (c), 10. SE. Bond, 11. DL Morrison.

  • jkc502 on September 3, 2009, 7:23 GMT

    My team:

    1. GM Turner - NZs most prolific first-class run scorer, 103 first-class centuries. 2. B Sutcliffe - Simply one of NZ's best ever players, and he was best first opening the batting. Held the world record highest first-class score by a left-hander for decades (385). 3. SP Fleming - Makes the team because he's the best captain NZ's ever had. 4. MD Crowe - Best NZ batsman ever. Most test 100s, NZ's highest first class average, NZ's highest test score.....etc 5. MP Donnelly - rated by all players who played with and against as one of NZ's best. 6. CL Cairns - NZ's best batting allrounder 7. RJ Hadlee - NZ's best bowling allrounder & NZ's best ever bowler. 8. DL Vettori - Great left arm spinner - outstanding batter too (better than any other NZ spin bowler 9. IDS Smith - NZ's best gloveman, could bat a bit too 10. SE Bond - NZ's most effective and controlled bowler of those who could bowl upward of 150 km/h. 11. J Cowie - Prolific wicket taker in the 1930s and 1940s.

  • Nfact on September 3, 2009, 1:12 GMT

    1. Dempster 2. Turner 3. AH Jones 4. MD Crowe 5. Sutcliffe 6. John Reid 7. Smith. 8. RJ Hadlee 9. Vettori 10. C Cairns 11. Morrison

  • ysrkhr on September 2, 2009, 22:10 GMT

    m amazed to see martin crowe isnt able to thruu to the final 11 instead mark ricdson..

  • Hutchinson on September 2, 2009, 14:16 GMT

    My Team would be 1.Glenn Turner 2.John Wright 3.Stephen Fleming.4.Martin Crowe 5.John Reid 6.Chris Cairns 7.Richard Hadlee 8.Ian Smith 9.Daniel Vettotri 10.Shane Bond 11.Danny Morrison.....Except J reid & J wright all other players can be regarded world class

  • INPG on September 2, 2009, 13:31 GMT

    1. John Wright , 2. Glenn Turner , 3. Andrew Jones , 5. Martin Crowe , 6. Bert Sutcliffe , 7. Ian Smith 8. Chris Cairns , 9. Richard Hadlee (C), 10. Dan Vettori , 11. Danny Morrison .

  • Otown on September 2, 2009, 11:14 GMT

    Turner, Richardson, Sutcliffe, Crowe, Fleming, Cairns, Mccullum, Hadlee, Vettori, Bond and Cowie. Somewhat modern team, but I'm young, what would I know? Richardson is in because our top order has been nothing without him and he's my hero! The man on CGW! Middle order is free to swap around positions.

  • RichDeGroen on September 2, 2009, 11:11 GMT

    navjot sidhu says that statistics are like miniskirts; what they reveal is suggestive, what they conceal is vital... I think this applies to Richardson. His average is one of the better for NZ test players. He was a determined resourceful batsman who achieved beyond his potential, a very rare thing among contemporary NZ cricketers. But John Wright exceeds him for talent and even patience (compare the strike rates!) and played in a generation of fearsome quicks and no average-boosting minnows. Likewise when regarding first class averages it pays to bear in mind where the cricket was played. Players like Turner, Dempster, Donelly who racked up runs in England where the standard is so much higher, consider special attention. As for Fleming... well, sadly he was a chronic underachiever with the bat. Surely we want our best XI to be a team composed of champions? And forget Flemings captaincy, Crowe was a brilliant captain possessed of an even pooer side than the ones Fleming led.

  • ynotlleb on September 2, 2009, 11:02 GMT

    My all-time NZ XI (speaking as an englishman)

    1. Turner 2. Sutcliffe 3. Donnelly 4. M. Crowe 5. Fleming 6. J.Reid 7. C. Cairns 8. Smith 9. R. Hadlee 10. Vettori 11. Morrison

  • magic_torch_jamie on September 2, 2009, 9:47 GMT

    Fact is, as NZ have a relatively small pool of talent and their greats have always had to carry an ordinary team, the final XI would give most others a rude shock. Bit like Wales football all-time.

  • tomemy on September 2, 2009, 9:26 GMT

    My side would be: 1. Bert Sutcliffe (ave 40), 2. Glenn Turner (44), 3. Andrew Jones (44), 5. Martin Crowe (45), 6. Stephen Fleming (40), 7. Ian Smith (25) 8. Chris Cairns (33/29), 9. Richard Hadlee (27/22), 10. Dan Vettori (29/33), 11. Danny Morrison (8/34). Players like Donnelly, Dempster, Redmond and Shane Bond have stats worthy of inclusion, except for the fact they played bugger all actual test cricket.

  • AjayKumarR on September 2, 2009, 9:02 GMT

    Hi guys Best NewZealand 11 will be 1. G. Turner 2 .S. Dempster 3 . B. Sutcliffe 4 .M. Crowe 5. S Fleming (C) 6. Chris Cairns 7. Vettori 8. Smith 9. Hadlee 10. Bond 11. Cowie. This team is hard to beat as the team has excellent leadership in fleming,allround strength and well balanced team.It has 5-6 matchwinners who can be as deadly as anyone.

  • mcorcoran on September 2, 2009, 8:40 GMT

    what about murphy sua? now he was a class act!

  • bradluen on September 2, 2009, 8:26 GMT

    Thinking about it, the only NZ batsman as good as Turner, Sutcliffe and Dempster is MD Crowe (maybe Donnelly, but I'm not convinced). So all of them have to go in. I'd actually prefer to drop Dempster down the order rather than Sutcliffe: Stewie's rep is that he was the best player of spin in county cricket in his era.

  • Grimmett_C_V on September 2, 2009, 7:20 GMT

    We have to work within the "rules" of this series and that means picking people for a particular position in the team. With this in mind, two Kiwis are automatic selections and they are Sir Richard, and then Turner. Then when you look for a single spin bowler, only one stands out. Then comes Shane Bond. When Bond was playing Test cricket with a bit of game time behind him, he was certainly a handful for any team. So that leaves the remaining places quite difficult, trying to fit players in. For my money, both Dempster and Sutcliffe have to be included somehow, this leaves the two John Reids in a problematic position (the more recent John Reid is often overlooked in favour of Jones and Crowe and yet it was he who really helped Hadlee beat the Aussies in the breakthrough test series in Australia.) Dempster has to be my other opener, leaving room for both Crowe, Fleming and Sutcliffe in the middle order. This is very harsh on Wright and Richardson, but it is the only answer...

  • vincing on September 2, 2009, 6:15 GMT

    Those who had written their elevens had forgotten Stephen Fleming. Again, Martin Crowe was the best at number three, but Fleming was inspirational, dogged, clever and sometimes elegant. He could be good at number 4. I see NZ cricket fans concerns over Cairns, Vettori and Hadlee. Hadlee is up their in his league of extraordinary men: Sir Gary Sobers, Ian Botham, Imran Khan and Kapil Dev. But I have seen Cairns bowling on Indian pitches to Dravid, Tendulkar, Ganguly and Laxman. He could make even the best batsmen jump around and was fierce competitor. On bowling alone, he would be just too good and to me he was better than Flintoff,Kallis, Pollock or the string of mediocre but effective all rounders Pakistan produced in 90s. As a batsman, he was more explosive than Flintoff and can be as good as Botham. Pity, he played too less.Vettori remains the best spinner NZ had produced over years and on that alone he would be in the team, just like Kapil for India.

  • ilovetests on September 2, 2009, 6:11 GMT

    I decided to pick two teams (A & B):

    NZ "A" G. Turner S. Dempster B. Sutcliffe M. Crowe M. Donnelly C. Cairns Sir R. Hadlee D. Vettori I. Smith S. Bond J. Cowie

    NZ "B" J. Wright M. Richardson J.F. Reid A. Jones S. Fleming J. R. Reid B. Taylor K. Wadsworth D. Motz R. Collinge H. Howarth

  • kpisthebest on September 2, 2009, 3:54 GMT

    My team would be

    Sutcliffe Turner Donnelly M.Crowe Fleming(c) C.Cairns Smith Vettori Hadlee Bond B.Taylor/ Collinge

    Players who could have got into the side as well are Andrew Jones, Reid, Congdon, Motz, Wright, Dempster, Cowie, Richardson etc.

  • nzwulf on September 2, 2009, 2:50 GMT

    I disagree with FIASNAHK saying that both Hadlee and Chris Cairns can't be in the same team. While you might not want to play Cairns as a specialist batter, I'd be willing to say Hadlee was good enough to be considered a specialist bowler.

    With your 5 batsman and keeper being your top 6 batters, all rounder (maybe C. Cairns) at 7, Vettori and Hadlee, say, at 8 and 9 (quite a long healthy lower order) then 2 more seamers at 10 and 11. This gives you 4 seamers and a spinner. Hadlee and Vettori may also be able to bat, but I'd say they'd be pressing to be the top paceman and spinner, ignoring their batting.

  • wobman on September 2, 2009, 0:21 GMT

    I agree with Fiashank - Richardson was instrumental in New Zealand's batting order holding up. Without him New Zealand would have succummed more quickly than usual - even if he didn't score runs quickly at least he kept the team at the crease for enough time for others to scores the fast runs. He was consistent, even if he wasn't the most entertaining batsman, as showed by the troubles we've had trying to replace him since his retirement.

  • Bilal_Choudry on September 2, 2009, 0:20 GMT

    Even in a balanced side both Cairns and Hadlee and Vettori can play

  • Armchairman on September 2, 2009, 0:17 GMT

    My NZ all-time eleven: Glenn Turner, Bert Sutcliffe, Martin Donnelly, Martin Crowe, John R. Reid, Chris Cairns, Ian Smith, Richard Hadlee, Daniel Vettori or Hedley Howarth, Shane Bond, Richard Collinge

    Others considered: Stewie Dempster, Danny Morrison, Graham Dowling, Bevan Congdon

    The team may not seem as balanced as a more traditional 5-1-1-4 combination, but I believe the above are guys who can make things happen in big matches. Also, you could play pretty much the same list in Tests as well one-day matches.

    Thanks.

  • robotiger on September 1, 2009, 22:38 GMT

    Turner and Sutcliffe. Must have room for Jones at 3, so Sutcliffe must open. His record is much stronger opening than playing in the middle order anyway. I think there is a case for having C Cairns, Hadlee, Vettori and Bruce Taylor ALL in the team. Each qualify purely on their bowling ability, let alone any batting skills they may possess. This will of course put a strange balance on the team as Cairns will bat 6, which is probably a place too high. But given that he will then be followed by a wicketkeeper batsmen, Hadlee, and Vettori, I'm sure there will be enough batting to cover a typical NZ collapse!

  • RichDeGroen on September 1, 2009, 20:25 GMT

    I've made this selection 100 times in my mind, with my only concerns being the choice of keeper, mostly because I'm pissed with McCullum at the present, and number six, weighing up Reid and Carins. I've gone for the circa 2000 version of Carins who could turn a game on it's head, safe in the knowledge that Cowie the workhorse can pick up the slack on those off days. You read it here first: 1. Dempster 2. Turner 3. Sutcliffe 4. Crowe 5. Donelly 6. Chris Cairns 7. Vettori 8. Smith/Parore/McCullum 9. Hadlee 10. Bond 11. Cowie

  • FIASNAHK on September 1, 2009, 19:44 GMT

    i think alot of people are writing of mark richardson way too early. He was arguably the only god test batsmen for new zealand in the last 15 years. Without him new zealand would probably have collapsed more often than they do now. But the most important thing is that he stayed at the crease for a long time, something that is essential in test cricket. You can't say that all he did was score runs, he laid the foundation for the other batsmen coming in. He is by the the most consistent batsmen as well as his average isn't bloated by not out hundreds. I'd rather have a guy who scores 50 in every game than some one who scores a massive hundred in one game then scores ducks in the next few.

  • KGL154 on September 1, 2009, 18:34 GMT

    Glen Turner is a certainty as one of the openers........he had the ability to bat for long innings (double hundreds in the West Indies) and is the quintessential opening bat..........Bert Sutcliffe is my number 3 so the other spot is a choice between Stewie Dempster or John Wright.

    John Wright was a gritty batsman who played against some of the best bowlers in history. But he is a little bit much the same temperament as Turner. Stewie Dempster was considered world class when NZ cricket had only just achieved test status and had he gone on to play more than 10 tests his record would have shown this. Plus being a bit of a dasher he provides a good counterpoint to Turner's stickability.

  • bradluen on September 1, 2009, 18:12 GMT

    Thinking about Wright vs Richardson:

    Wright's average is only about 38, but it's depressed because he was thrust into the team at 23 and wasn't really a first-rate player for another three years. If you start from the point where he made his first century, he still only averaged 42, but sustained over 12 years in that era that's pretty impressive. (To everyone who said he faced great bowling: remember, he didn't have to play against Hadlee!)

    Richardson's problem is that simply that he only played Tests for four years, even though he was by far NZ's best batsman for those four years. It's hard to even argue he was selected too late, because his domestic record doesn't get really good until 1999. If he were still playing now and averaging 44 he'd be my pick, but with the evidence at hand it's hard to put him in.

  • ArmchairPundit on September 1, 2009, 17:56 GMT

    "I hope, when it comes to the one allrounder, we aren't forced to choose between Sir Richard Hadlee, Lance Cairns, Chris Cairns, and Daniel Vettori"

    ...not forgetting Bruce Taylor :)

    Paul England

  • bradluen on September 1, 2009, 17:52 GMT

    Dowling and Edgar are good players but not in this class. I can't think of a good argument against Turner. That leaves one of Dempster, Sutcliffe, Wright and Richardson. I'll try to think through Dempster vs Sutcliffe first.

    Dempster's first class average is "only" 44.98. It's depressed by an average of 35.64 in 40 games for Wellington. Any historians know why this is low? Pitches? His international and county figures are much, much better.

    The best Bert Sutcliffe was the elegant, pre-hit on the head batsman from 1946 to 1953. Absolutely dominant in New Zealand and with a very impressive 1949 tour of England, though Dempster's 1931 tour might have been even better. After 1953 he's an excellent player, but in Tests probably not as good as, say, John Wright. Can you include Sutcliffe in an all-time list based on only 7 truly great seasons?

  • Mprezd on September 1, 2009, 17:34 GMT

    So Wright and Edgar for me. Wright I think will be picked by quite a few. One of our finest batsmen and a great leader (not necessarily as captain). Edgar totally remodeled himself from a pretty elegant batsman to be a defensive stone wall - really the opposite of what Turner did. To me that speaks volumes of a man playing for the team. Plus they formed an opening combination which is important. Plus they played against some amazing fast bowlers in their time. When they could be a bit more aggressive towards batsmen and really look to maim.

  • Mprezd on September 1, 2009, 17:33 GMT

    Dempster - hard to say on the basis of just 10 tests. Many players start off with a hiss and a roar and over time get worked out. Dowling was good, but doesn't really stand out over the others as a pick me certainty. It seems lots of people are going for Turner, but in my personal opinion he has created too many rifts over the years to be in my team. You may think that is an odd characteristic on which to base a team, but as they say it is more than just the averages. Richardson - I just don't think he contributed enough to the team. He is our best modern (mean last 15 years) day test opener, and while he batted in an area where there were some amazing bowlers, again he just scored runs. I don't feel like he did much else. Sutcliffe I would want to have as my 3 (even though that saddens me because Andrew Jones is probably my favourite NZ batsman of all time)

  • jimbond on September 1, 2009, 17:00 GMT

    True, instead of selecting the positions, best to start with the certainties- If I have to choose three of these, they would be Hadlee, Martin Crowe and Shane Bond. Reid as one of the openers. Cairns too- of the moderns may make the cut, as on his best day, he was really good. I am not aware of the ancients, though have heard a lot about Turner, so he too must be a certainty. So Reid and turner at one and 2.

  • Ram-a-sutra on September 1, 2009, 16:55 GMT

    Dempster will surely get the dumpster. John Wright needs to be in the team as not only was he a brilliant oepning batsman BUT also as he showed during his tenure as the Indian team coach, a great cricketing brain. Vettori, Chris Cairns and Hadlee will be automatic choices. Rest they are all very ordinary and they will only win if they borrow some cricketers from India..

  • FIASNAHK on September 1, 2009, 14:10 GMT

    Guys this is the best 11. These teams need balance so it doesn't matter if some great players miss out, we are selecting the greatest players of the countries but the players that would make the greatest team. For NZ, Hadlee and chris cairns will battle for allrounder slot. For the balance of the team do you think both would be included? of course not, cairns is not good enough to replace a specialist batsmen in the team.

  • essel1 on September 1, 2009, 13:10 GMT

    I have chosen turner (arguably one of the finest batsman of his era) and sutcliffe if i could i would choose, sutcliffe at 3, leaving the opener space open for wright or richardson..but well ....cheers.....

  • abhi.2009 on September 1, 2009, 11:33 GMT

    all of them are very good batsman but i would like to chose jhon wright becuse he played the best bowlers of all time during his era .So once he is selected richardson would not be selected becuse they are both similar type of batsmen , iam not assured of dowling and dumpster just played 10 test . i would put bert in at 3 so he goes out of question . while the final two goes between edgar and turner and would certainly pick turner becuse of his superior baating quality . So in WRIGHT and TURNER we have NZ all time best openers.

  • vincing on September 1, 2009, 11:14 GMT

    Already readers have found this baffling way of selecting two openers and then middle order batsman. Dempster played at number four in county matches where he had loads of success. In earlier England best eleven, Michael Vaughan was amongst openers though he opened very less. Again, we have to choose one allrounder. Now, no country has produced two Bothams, or Hadlees or Kapil Devs, but if tomorrow you put Jacques Kallis and Shaun Pollock in the allrounder slot, it would be idiotic. And for a case like India, Kapil Dev still remains one of the best seam bowler and can qualify only for that reason. What about Vinoo Mankad then, whose record Sir Ian broke. I would like to have both of them in the team if they are ever present together in same era. If I have Ian Botham and Kapil Dev, I would like to have both of them. the other day, Geoff Boycott missed, well, to Len hutton and Jack Hobbs, but still he could be good at number three or four.

  • PrinzPaulEugen on September 1, 2009, 11:00 GMT

    Quip - I think I see where you're going NZ wise. I hope, when it comes to the one allrounder, we aren't forced to choose between Sir Richard Hadlee, Lance Cairns, Chris Cairns, and Daniel Vettori for the all time Kiwi team. I'm sure the Cricinfo selectors have been more prudent in their classifications than that.

  • Quip on September 1, 2009, 9:33 GMT

    Yet again this exasperating method of forcing us to select two openers and then later 3 or 4 middle order batsmen will skew the selection process. Regarding New Zealand, I would pick Sutcliffe and Turner as far the most appropriate choice of opening batsmen, but Dempster might well be no 3. Similarly, I would have had Ponting as an opener in the Australian team simply to ensure the best 5 batsmen were selected. It seems to me unfortunate that in so many of these selection exercises, the initial parameters do not permit the selection of the most deserving players. I might add, the most deserving players are those whom history most elevates, not those who, thanks to increased opportunities, have the more impressive statistical profile. Anyone knowledgeable in cricket history will know that Dempster, or for that matter Donnelly, have a status that far surpasses their relatively brief test careers.

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  • Quip on September 1, 2009, 9:33 GMT

    Yet again this exasperating method of forcing us to select two openers and then later 3 or 4 middle order batsmen will skew the selection process. Regarding New Zealand, I would pick Sutcliffe and Turner as far the most appropriate choice of opening batsmen, but Dempster might well be no 3. Similarly, I would have had Ponting as an opener in the Australian team simply to ensure the best 5 batsmen were selected. It seems to me unfortunate that in so many of these selection exercises, the initial parameters do not permit the selection of the most deserving players. I might add, the most deserving players are those whom history most elevates, not those who, thanks to increased opportunities, have the more impressive statistical profile. Anyone knowledgeable in cricket history will know that Dempster, or for that matter Donnelly, have a status that far surpasses their relatively brief test careers.

  • PrinzPaulEugen on September 1, 2009, 11:00 GMT

    Quip - I think I see where you're going NZ wise. I hope, when it comes to the one allrounder, we aren't forced to choose between Sir Richard Hadlee, Lance Cairns, Chris Cairns, and Daniel Vettori for the all time Kiwi team. I'm sure the Cricinfo selectors have been more prudent in their classifications than that.

  • vincing on September 1, 2009, 11:14 GMT

    Already readers have found this baffling way of selecting two openers and then middle order batsman. Dempster played at number four in county matches where he had loads of success. In earlier England best eleven, Michael Vaughan was amongst openers though he opened very less. Again, we have to choose one allrounder. Now, no country has produced two Bothams, or Hadlees or Kapil Devs, but if tomorrow you put Jacques Kallis and Shaun Pollock in the allrounder slot, it would be idiotic. And for a case like India, Kapil Dev still remains one of the best seam bowler and can qualify only for that reason. What about Vinoo Mankad then, whose record Sir Ian broke. I would like to have both of them in the team if they are ever present together in same era. If I have Ian Botham and Kapil Dev, I would like to have both of them. the other day, Geoff Boycott missed, well, to Len hutton and Jack Hobbs, but still he could be good at number three or four.

  • abhi.2009 on September 1, 2009, 11:33 GMT

    all of them are very good batsman but i would like to chose jhon wright becuse he played the best bowlers of all time during his era .So once he is selected richardson would not be selected becuse they are both similar type of batsmen , iam not assured of dowling and dumpster just played 10 test . i would put bert in at 3 so he goes out of question . while the final two goes between edgar and turner and would certainly pick turner becuse of his superior baating quality . So in WRIGHT and TURNER we have NZ all time best openers.

  • essel1 on September 1, 2009, 13:10 GMT

    I have chosen turner (arguably one of the finest batsman of his era) and sutcliffe if i could i would choose, sutcliffe at 3, leaving the opener space open for wright or richardson..but well ....cheers.....

  • FIASNAHK on September 1, 2009, 14:10 GMT

    Guys this is the best 11. These teams need balance so it doesn't matter if some great players miss out, we are selecting the greatest players of the countries but the players that would make the greatest team. For NZ, Hadlee and chris cairns will battle for allrounder slot. For the balance of the team do you think both would be included? of course not, cairns is not good enough to replace a specialist batsmen in the team.

  • Ram-a-sutra on September 1, 2009, 16:55 GMT

    Dempster will surely get the dumpster. John Wright needs to be in the team as not only was he a brilliant oepning batsman BUT also as he showed during his tenure as the Indian team coach, a great cricketing brain. Vettori, Chris Cairns and Hadlee will be automatic choices. Rest they are all very ordinary and they will only win if they borrow some cricketers from India..

  • jimbond on September 1, 2009, 17:00 GMT

    True, instead of selecting the positions, best to start with the certainties- If I have to choose three of these, they would be Hadlee, Martin Crowe and Shane Bond. Reid as one of the openers. Cairns too- of the moderns may make the cut, as on his best day, he was really good. I am not aware of the ancients, though have heard a lot about Turner, so he too must be a certainty. So Reid and turner at one and 2.

  • Mprezd on September 1, 2009, 17:33 GMT

    Dempster - hard to say on the basis of just 10 tests. Many players start off with a hiss and a roar and over time get worked out. Dowling was good, but doesn't really stand out over the others as a pick me certainty. It seems lots of people are going for Turner, but in my personal opinion he has created too many rifts over the years to be in my team. You may think that is an odd characteristic on which to base a team, but as they say it is more than just the averages. Richardson - I just don't think he contributed enough to the team. He is our best modern (mean last 15 years) day test opener, and while he batted in an area where there were some amazing bowlers, again he just scored runs. I don't feel like he did much else. Sutcliffe I would want to have as my 3 (even though that saddens me because Andrew Jones is probably my favourite NZ batsman of all time)

  • Mprezd on September 1, 2009, 17:34 GMT

    So Wright and Edgar for me. Wright I think will be picked by quite a few. One of our finest batsmen and a great leader (not necessarily as captain). Edgar totally remodeled himself from a pretty elegant batsman to be a defensive stone wall - really the opposite of what Turner did. To me that speaks volumes of a man playing for the team. Plus they formed an opening combination which is important. Plus they played against some amazing fast bowlers in their time. When they could be a bit more aggressive towards batsmen and really look to maim.