Middle order September 7, 2009

Multi-faceted dilemmas

The middle order is where the real competition is at, with 10 men fighting for the spots
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The easy, and at the same time difficult, part of choosing a New Zealand all-time XI is the flexible roles their cricketers could generally play. Two of the nominees in this category who have strong chances of making it to the final XI, Bert Sutcliffe and John R Reid, can qualify elsewhere in the order too. Sutcliffe can open, Reid can be the allrounder; but they can just as well bat in the middle order and no one will complain.

So the middle-order selection can't be made keeping just the middle order in mind; the prospective openers and allrounders need to be considered too. There's a fine line between creating space and eating it.

Not that just these two make up the middle-order debate. Scroll down a little, and you have the two Martins, Crowe and Donnelly. One man a tortured genius who many bowlers of his era found the toughest to bowl to, the other believed to be so good that numbers (he played just seven Tests) are considered immaterial. New Zealanders didn't get to see much of Donnelly, but John F Reid wrote of him, "If we were in trouble, no one was more likely to pull the game round than Martin. If we were on top, few could demolish bowling so swiftly or surely as he did." What if it came down to picking just one of the Martins?

Between those two came Bev Congdon and John F Reid. After Crowe, two men made a strong case for themselves: the brave and persistent Andrew Jones, and the silken Stephen Fleming. And if the added bonus of captaincy was to tip the scales - although we are not nominating captains in this exercise - this is the category: any one of John R Reid, Fleming and Congdon could benefit from his captaincy credentials.

The contenders

John R Reid An allrounders' allrounder, he was a dashing batsman not afraid of hitting in the air, a bowler useful enough to take 466 first-class wickets at 22.6, an exceptional fielder at gully and cover, and good enough to captain the likes of Garry Sobers, Wes Hall, Wally Grout, Eddie Barlow and the Nawab of Pataudi in a World XI. Reid led New Zealand to their first three Test wins.

Bert Sutcliffe "Runs came to him as if by right… I cannot recall him playing an uncouth shot," wrote Reid of Sutcliffe. His most memorable innings, a "story every New Zealand boy should learn at his mother's knee" came in the middle order.

John F Reid Though fated to be the second-best John Reid in cricket, he averaged the most among New Zealanders who managed more than 1000 Test runs. Calm and orthodox, he scored six hundreds in the eight times he went past 50 in Tests.

Martin Donnelly His cricket a victim of war and the game's financial circumstance, Donnelly played just 13 of his 131 first-class matches at home. The slightly unorthodox thumper to Sutcliffe's artist, he did enough in seven Tests to make the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame. There is not a New Zealander who doesn't feel a sense of loss that he couldn't play more, and in the country.

Bev Congdon A fine all-round professional, he was a technically correct batsman, a safe fielder, a useful medium-pace bowler, and thrived when captain. Congdon led New Zealand to their first win over Australia, almost beat England for the first time on his own, and introduced a hard edge to their cricket.

Martin Crowe Had all the shots in the book - and the time to play them. Was labelled the best young batsman in the world when he made his debut at 19, and was one of the best in the world during the following years. Wasim Akram, one of the greatest bowlers of that era, rated him in the same bracket as Sunil Gavaskar and Brian Lara - and higher when it came to playing reverse swing.

Andrew Jones Crowe's sidekick, Jones had to wait until he was 28 for his Test debut, but he didn't let the cap go once it came his away. Not one for purists, he had a technique of his own, but his determination and ruthlessness stood out - as an average of 44.27 over 39 Tests testifies.

Stephen Fleming New Zealand's leading run-getter, most successful captain, and their most capped player. Numbers could say only so much about Fleming, though. His graceful batting brought joy, and also the feeling that he undershot as a batsman.

Nathan Astle His free spirit at times proved his downfall. An automatic selection if this were an ODI team, on his day he was as destructive a batsman as any. Astle holds the record for the fastest double-century in Tests.

Craig McMillan Abrasiveness, aggressiveness, improvisation and a relish for the difficult situation were McMillan's key features, suggesting there was more than his resemblance with Russell Crowe to his being nicknamed The Gladiator.

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 middle-order batsmen click here

Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • INPG on September 9, 2009, 5:10 GMT

    Although middle order doesn't seem to have been sufficient ever for New Zealand but when we are talking of All Time NZ XI, we could expect that two openers plus three middle order batsmen could be sufficient. after that we could move to All rounders, Wicket Keeper and then the bowlers. In the test you have to have 5 genuine bowlers, so inclusion of Hadlee and Vettori would enhance the batting as well, plus a wicket keeper batsman, that would make a pretty nice batting strength.

  • bradluen on September 9, 2009, 4:57 GMT

    Also re: NZ averages: a partial reason these seem low is that promising NZ batsmen tend to get picked very early. This happens in several countries but it's been worst in NZ (well, aside from Bangladesh) because of the small first class player base. Thus Martin Crowe gets thrown to the lions at 19; it takes him two years to score his first 50. Teenager Ken Rutherford is picked to face Marshall, Garner and Holding; it takes seven years for him to recover sufficiently to push his average over 20. You're even seeing it now with Vettori.

    Of course, another reason NZ averages seem low is because we're not that good.

  • bradluen on September 9, 2009, 4:40 GMT

    Where the supporting evidence for Dempster's greatness is strong, the supporting evidence for Donnelly's greatness is iffy. His record before the war is good but not overwhelming. A couple of his centuries for Oxford came against opposition of questionable strength (Cambridge, Free Foresters). His stint for Warwickshire was barren. It was only in 1949 that he had unquestionably become a world-class batsman, and then he promptly called it quits and mozed to Oz.

    Still, at least Donnelly *might* have been a great batsman, which is more than anyone else on the list except for Crowe and Sutcliffe can claim. JR Reid was a great all-rounder, but not a great batsman. Fleming was a great captain, but not a great batsman, and I can't include a guy who only scored a century every 12 Tests, no matter how tactically astute he was. JF Reid had a fine record in a bowlers' era, except he managed to avoid the great bowlers more often than not. 1. Turner 2. Sutcliffe 3. Dempster 4. Crowe 5. Donnelly.

  • symbionic on September 9, 2009, 0:27 GMT

    NZ definitely can afford to go in with 5 batsmen, considering that at no. 6 I would opt for John R Reid - NZ's best batsman at certain stages in his career - and plenty of batting depth at nos 7-8-9 with Richard Hadlee, Daniel Vettori (world's best average for a no. 8 batsman), and Ian Smith (world record highest score batting at no. 9)

  • waspsting on September 8, 2009, 14:52 GMT

    I'll have more to say on this when the final 11 is announced. But frankly, this desire to have 5 specialist batsmen in EVERY TEAM we've seen so far... is absurd. Australia can afford it, England can with difficulty (I did not agree with the choice of the lower order, which has to be strong in batting when the team has just 5 specialist batsmen).... but New Zealand most definitely CAN NOT afford to go in with less than six batsmen.

  • mikeindex on September 8, 2009, 11:55 GMT

    The opening comments on cricketers qualifying in different fields highlight what's been, to me, an obvious difficulty of the shortlisting system - namely its inflexibility. Why can't we balance our sides to our own satisfaction?

    I'd like to see shortlists simply of batsmen, bowlers and wicketkeepers, from which readers could have the choice of picking 6-4-1 or 5-5-1 as they wish. Allrounders could figure in the list of their stronger skill, or even in both with the obvious proviso that you couldn't pick them twice!

    And why can't we - or the official selectors - pick a captain? Isn't good captaincy as vital to a well-balanced side as any other playing skill?

    It's still been really interesting and a lot of fun though!

    Specifically to this list, Sutcliffe should surely be listed as an opener where he played most of his best cricket.

  • PrinzPaulEugen on September 8, 2009, 11:50 GMT

    ChairmanValvod, I'm not sure what your point is. There are 4 and bit million people in New Zealand. About the same population as Queensland. Queensland produced Matt Hayden, Ian Healy, Don Tallon, Craig McDermott; two of whom are world class, and two who arguably were. New Zealand has punched well, well above it's weight in world cricket since day one, given it's small population and remote location. There are other cricketing countries who have been quite, quite the obverse.

  • rzi-BDML on September 8, 2009, 7:41 GMT

    i wonder if No. 7 spot is for a batsman or it may be wicketkeeper. I've not seen a batsman like vetorri at this spot. he anyways qualfies as bowler if not a lower order batsman. In middle order Martin Crow is my choice, Stephen flemeng are the best I guess.

  • Nige_C on September 8, 2009, 6:29 GMT

    Reading through the comments I agree that apart from Crowe, Sutcliffe, Donnelly the rest are not really world class (I would have J R Reid as an allrounder). They are good players but not great. This highlights the problem that NZ cricket has faced througout it's history the lack of world class batsman. The 2 periods of history where NZ had a good record in test cricket (mid 1980's and late 1990's) were based around 2 world class all rounders (Hadlee and Cairns) being at the peak of their powers. The easiest way to see the lack of batting depth is to look at the averages, no one (Donnelly's short career apart) averages over 50! How many of these batsman would have made the short list for Australia or England! Maybe Crowe but that would be about it. Sad but true and it is the reason that NZ cricket continues to languish towards the bottom of the test rankings.

  • ramarama on September 8, 2009, 1:25 GMT

    I remember JR Reid, listening to cricket commentry those days 'Benaud to Reid, full toss, Reid hits for a Six, Durani to Reid , full toss reid hits a huge six" this is how it used to be, a full toss will always land up in the galary. He missed T20!!!!!!! Ramaprasad, Tiruchi India

  • INPG on September 9, 2009, 5:10 GMT

    Although middle order doesn't seem to have been sufficient ever for New Zealand but when we are talking of All Time NZ XI, we could expect that two openers plus three middle order batsmen could be sufficient. after that we could move to All rounders, Wicket Keeper and then the bowlers. In the test you have to have 5 genuine bowlers, so inclusion of Hadlee and Vettori would enhance the batting as well, plus a wicket keeper batsman, that would make a pretty nice batting strength.

  • bradluen on September 9, 2009, 4:57 GMT

    Also re: NZ averages: a partial reason these seem low is that promising NZ batsmen tend to get picked very early. This happens in several countries but it's been worst in NZ (well, aside from Bangladesh) because of the small first class player base. Thus Martin Crowe gets thrown to the lions at 19; it takes him two years to score his first 50. Teenager Ken Rutherford is picked to face Marshall, Garner and Holding; it takes seven years for him to recover sufficiently to push his average over 20. You're even seeing it now with Vettori.

    Of course, another reason NZ averages seem low is because we're not that good.

  • bradluen on September 9, 2009, 4:40 GMT

    Where the supporting evidence for Dempster's greatness is strong, the supporting evidence for Donnelly's greatness is iffy. His record before the war is good but not overwhelming. A couple of his centuries for Oxford came against opposition of questionable strength (Cambridge, Free Foresters). His stint for Warwickshire was barren. It was only in 1949 that he had unquestionably become a world-class batsman, and then he promptly called it quits and mozed to Oz.

    Still, at least Donnelly *might* have been a great batsman, which is more than anyone else on the list except for Crowe and Sutcliffe can claim. JR Reid was a great all-rounder, but not a great batsman. Fleming was a great captain, but not a great batsman, and I can't include a guy who only scored a century every 12 Tests, no matter how tactically astute he was. JF Reid had a fine record in a bowlers' era, except he managed to avoid the great bowlers more often than not. 1. Turner 2. Sutcliffe 3. Dempster 4. Crowe 5. Donnelly.

  • symbionic on September 9, 2009, 0:27 GMT

    NZ definitely can afford to go in with 5 batsmen, considering that at no. 6 I would opt for John R Reid - NZ's best batsman at certain stages in his career - and plenty of batting depth at nos 7-8-9 with Richard Hadlee, Daniel Vettori (world's best average for a no. 8 batsman), and Ian Smith (world record highest score batting at no. 9)

  • waspsting on September 8, 2009, 14:52 GMT

    I'll have more to say on this when the final 11 is announced. But frankly, this desire to have 5 specialist batsmen in EVERY TEAM we've seen so far... is absurd. Australia can afford it, England can with difficulty (I did not agree with the choice of the lower order, which has to be strong in batting when the team has just 5 specialist batsmen).... but New Zealand most definitely CAN NOT afford to go in with less than six batsmen.

  • mikeindex on September 8, 2009, 11:55 GMT

    The opening comments on cricketers qualifying in different fields highlight what's been, to me, an obvious difficulty of the shortlisting system - namely its inflexibility. Why can't we balance our sides to our own satisfaction?

    I'd like to see shortlists simply of batsmen, bowlers and wicketkeepers, from which readers could have the choice of picking 6-4-1 or 5-5-1 as they wish. Allrounders could figure in the list of their stronger skill, or even in both with the obvious proviso that you couldn't pick them twice!

    And why can't we - or the official selectors - pick a captain? Isn't good captaincy as vital to a well-balanced side as any other playing skill?

    It's still been really interesting and a lot of fun though!

    Specifically to this list, Sutcliffe should surely be listed as an opener where he played most of his best cricket.

  • PrinzPaulEugen on September 8, 2009, 11:50 GMT

    ChairmanValvod, I'm not sure what your point is. There are 4 and bit million people in New Zealand. About the same population as Queensland. Queensland produced Matt Hayden, Ian Healy, Don Tallon, Craig McDermott; two of whom are world class, and two who arguably were. New Zealand has punched well, well above it's weight in world cricket since day one, given it's small population and remote location. There are other cricketing countries who have been quite, quite the obverse.

  • rzi-BDML on September 8, 2009, 7:41 GMT

    i wonder if No. 7 spot is for a batsman or it may be wicketkeeper. I've not seen a batsman like vetorri at this spot. he anyways qualfies as bowler if not a lower order batsman. In middle order Martin Crow is my choice, Stephen flemeng are the best I guess.

  • Nige_C on September 8, 2009, 6:29 GMT

    Reading through the comments I agree that apart from Crowe, Sutcliffe, Donnelly the rest are not really world class (I would have J R Reid as an allrounder). They are good players but not great. This highlights the problem that NZ cricket has faced througout it's history the lack of world class batsman. The 2 periods of history where NZ had a good record in test cricket (mid 1980's and late 1990's) were based around 2 world class all rounders (Hadlee and Cairns) being at the peak of their powers. The easiest way to see the lack of batting depth is to look at the averages, no one (Donnelly's short career apart) averages over 50! How many of these batsman would have made the short list for Australia or England! Maybe Crowe but that would be about it. Sad but true and it is the reason that NZ cricket continues to languish towards the bottom of the test rankings.

  • ramarama on September 8, 2009, 1:25 GMT

    I remember JR Reid, listening to cricket commentry those days 'Benaud to Reid, full toss, Reid hits for a Six, Durani to Reid , full toss reid hits a huge six" this is how it used to be, a full toss will always land up in the galary. He missed T20!!!!!!! Ramaprasad, Tiruchi India

  • Maui3 on September 8, 2009, 0:44 GMT

    Amazing NZ doesn't have one batsman with 50+ average, who's played decent number of test matches. However, M. Crowe was indeed one of a kind. Seem to bat with such incredible ease and seldom needed to hurry in his shots. Watched him a lot in the 80s against India and it almost always came as a shock that he ever got out. Easily the best batsman I saw (incluing Richards, Chapple and Gavaskar) until Tendulkar and (later) Mark Waugh and Damian Martin came around.

  • RichDeGroen on September 8, 2009, 0:36 GMT

    Fleming... McMillan... Astle. That would be a fantastic middle order.... but wait, haven't we already seen that? And they were useless, unless they had Zimbabwe in their sights. I am so sick of hearing about Fleming's wonderful captaincy. He was an underachiever and so was the entire side under his tenure. Most wins? most losses too. Crowe captained a far less capable side in the early 90s and achieved greater success in tests and one-dayers with aggressive and innovative strategies. He also led by example, piling up runs against everyone he played. People seem to forget about him just because he has a defective personality. He's my NZ XI captain, batting at four with Sutcliffe and Donnelly either side. Have a look at Donnelly's first class record, compiled in england where cricket is far stronger than domestic NZ cricket. And read what people say about him. He simply must have been good. Andrew Jones? please. Give me a break. John Reid is 12th man, the most unlucky to miss out.

  • suhas_cadambi on September 7, 2009, 23:50 GMT

    Jeremy Coney, anyone? Or will does he feature in the all-rounder list?

  • robotiger on September 7, 2009, 22:48 GMT

    I agree with ChairmanValvod that these selections do highlight a lack of performance by NZ batsmen. Most batsmen listed here never reached their potential, whether it be through injury, war, or consistently inconsistent form. Perhaps that is why we seem to rely on qualitative data instead of quantitative that most other all time elevens are based on? It seems nearly every player we choose is followed by the line "They were a great player, 'such-and-such' said they were - don't be fooled by their poor/lack of statistics." I personally think JR Reid was one of our greatest players, but I won't choose him in my team as a batsman because he averaged 33 with the bat, and had a captaincy record of 3/34. These stats are poor when compared to batsmen of Reid's era, let alone any other time. Granted, stats don't show everything, but I refuse to select an all time eleven based on purely hearsay and rumor.

  • romes on September 7, 2009, 22:03 GMT

    The nomination of JF Reid is a triumph for statistics over substance. Yes, he looks good on paper but further analysis shows that he only ever scored runs against slow bowling and indeed was always either unavailable or suddenly retired when a series against the West Indies loomed. I take on board the comments about Donnelly's Test career being too short for accurate judgement, but equally note the wonderful things written about him by commentators of the day. Assuming Turner and Dempster are opening, give me Sutcliffe, Crowe, Donnelly and JR Reid to round out the top six.

  • ChairmanValvod on September 7, 2009, 21:51 GMT

    In fact, the only two cricketers NZ have ever produced in their entire Test history that would qualify for instant consideration for any World XI side would, without a doubt be Martin Crowe and Richard Hadlee. Along with these two, the only other notable world class cricketers new zealand has produced in their bleak cricketing annals are to a lesser degree than crowe and hadlee, but nevertheless, Chris Cairns, Chris Harris, Stephen Fleming (maybe), and Dan Vettori. This job of putting together an all time NZ XI illuminates on the degree to which NZ's domestic structure probably lacks substance as well serious selection panel woes.

  • neilsrini on September 7, 2009, 19:29 GMT

    What about Mark Greatbatch, the king. May not have the best record but what he did meant a lot for nz cricket

  • Cooch on September 7, 2009, 18:56 GMT

    My top 6, for what it is worth... Wright, Turner, Sutcliffe, Crowe M, Donnelly and JR Reid. Then Cairns C, Smith, Vettori, Hadlee R and one of any number of candidates for the final bowling spot. Morrison, Troup, Bond, Martin, Cairns L? Perhaps even Gary Bartlett, who was suspiciously the quickest of the lot? Would also love to include Geoff Howarth, but he may have to carry the drinks (he wouldn't mind). Coney and Mystery Morrison can provide erudite comments. John Bracewell is NOT the coach!

  • 8ankitj on September 7, 2009, 18:01 GMT

    If Bert Sutcliffe is nominated twice, so should have been the three great English openers. I picke Hobbs and Sutflife as English openers in hope that hutton will be available for middle order too!

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

    With the exception of Martin Crowe, not a single one of these batsmen would make it on any sort World XI, maybe not even in a World XI A or B team. That is a pretty sad and pathetic reality of the sorts of interntional batsmen NZ have produced over the years. Martin Crowe was as brilliant as any in World cricket, and on his day, udoubtedly one of the best of all time. Overall, this is a pretty boring list, with not much b way of talent, grit, or much else. Sure Fleming was good cricketing brain, but was lax with his bat. Never a match winner, rather a wicket holder. If NZ are wanting to be respected in World cricket, twenty year from now, their list of their top middle order batsmen better look way better than this one. They better hope, pray, or do whatever else they need to, to produce and nurture more Martin Crowe's. I think NZ currently have a gem o their hanbs in the form of Ross Taylor, albeit given he stays healthy and works on that temperament of his. All in all, pretty sad.

  • stirlo1984 on September 7, 2009, 13:10 GMT

    It would have been better to know that players would be available in more than one category before we selected openers. I picked Sutcliffe to open because I thought that was the only chance to get him in. If he is available to pick at no 3, then that's where he should be with Dempster and Turner at 1 & 2. Crowe is automatic and I think Donnelly must come next. Let's face it, very few of us saw Donnelly play so we are relying on the testimony of others. Martin-Jenkins rated Donnelly as the 73rd best player ever, ahead of Dravid and Dexter. He didn't put Crowe in the top 100. That tells me he deserves the nod above Flemming and Jones. I'd have Reid either at 6 or as 12th man. If you need more batting he should play, with Cairns, Hadlee, a WK (Parore, Smith?), Vetori and Bond to follow. That's a very deep line-up. But if you need more bowling Cairns could go in at 6 and Cowie could come is to bolster the bowling. The NZ side is pretty easy to pick really, there aren't too many choices!

  • japroni on September 7, 2009, 12:28 GMT

    ShibajiDebnath I really dont believe we should be putting an allrounder whos strength was bowling in a top 5 of a batting line up of an all-time NZ XI. To even state that Cairns should bat with Hadlee would ensure that the team would be top heavy and open up the chance of a middle order collapse! Cairns will rightly slot into his 6 slot with Hadlee at 7 or 8. With Turner and Sutcliffe opening the innings I would slot Flemo at 3(stylish, Captain Marvel), Crowe at 4 (All time greatest NZ batsmen, could play waqar, wasim and warne in his sleep) and Donnnelly at 5 (Unlucky not have more tests Hall of famer). With Cairns at 6, Ian Smith/McCullum at 7, Hadlee at 8, Vettori at 9 It would be a batting line up to savour!!

  • tauranga on September 7, 2009, 11:39 GMT

    From a Pom living in Pagham,W.Sussex. Crowe, Fleming & Reid all at some stage of their careers World Class. In Flems' case as a Captain. Sutcliffe & Donnelly from a bygone age played too little cricket on a world stage.

  • ShibajiDebnath on September 7, 2009, 11:24 GMT

    Sir Richard Hadlee should be the automatic choice. He is one of the greatest All rounder in the all time world cricket. Sir Richard Hadlee is the first bowler who completed 400 test wickets in history. Next Martin Crow should be the automatic choice as middle order. Cris Cairnes should be in all time XI. His name should come as all rounder after Sir Richard Hadlee.

  • buntyj on September 7, 2009, 10:20 GMT

    for me 3 to 6 are sutcliffe (letting dempster and turner open), donnelly, crowe and john reid since these are all time xi's i would assume that conditions would also reflect the entire time since test cricket? and we are talking about series of 5 tests each? in that case it would be fair and reasonable to divide the over 100 years of test cricket in 5 equal periods and with 1 test from each period reflecting test pitches, days, helmets, bats etc from each respective period so we should have 3 tests on uncovered pitches, 1 3 day, 1 4 day , 1 6 day or timeless, tests, 4 without helmets, only 1 with contemporary bats and gear this would really level the playing field for contenders from across the ages since we assume that all the greats from each period wouldve been great (though perhaps not equally successful) in other periods and make selection that much more interesting

  • FIASNAHK on September 7, 2009, 9:46 GMT

    For me its sutcliffe, crowe and jones, sorry fleming but in 111 matches you should have scored more than 9 centuries.

  • Iaminthebath on September 7, 2009, 9:01 GMT

    Easy choice, I think for the whole top six. Turner and Dempster to open. Sutcliffe, Crowe and Donnelly - 3-4-5 ( maybe swap Sutcliffe and Donnelly) and then Reid the all rounder at 6. V Surprised at the lack of support for Sutcliffe above, He was regarded as one of the greatest left handers to have played the game. Always impossible to compare players from different eras but Donnelly has such a romantic place In our folklore and his exploits talked of so fervently I would definitely have him there. Of Course Reid has to be in the team somewhere. I'm interested in the keepers and can't choose between Smith and Wadsworth.

  • Nige_C on September 7, 2009, 7:29 GMT

    Some of the earlier players benefit/suffer from limited matches. For example Donnelly, Dempster, Cowie (bowler) etc. It is really hard to judge a player who has only played a handfull of tests. To give example of modern players who would have had a benefited with a fantastic average if only judged on the begining of their careers see either Mark Greatbatch (73.9 after 8 matches) or Matthew Sinclair (52.55 after 12 matches and 2 double centuries) . It is only over time and in a variety of playing conditions and against different opponents that one can really truly judge the abilities of a player. The danger of under or over estimating players with short careers makes the selection task a difficult one as it becomes largely speculation. Hopefully the NZ all time team won't be a team of what if's.

  • Karamat23 on September 7, 2009, 5:15 GMT

    Would select John Reid, martin Crowe and Bev Congdon. Suroprising not to see Geoff Howarth and more surprised to see John F. Reid.

  • bradluen on September 7, 2009, 4:58 GMT

    Poor Geoff Howarth. He wasn't great for very long, but his run from 1978 to 1981 when he was hitting a century every other match or so beats anything Astle and McMillan ever did in Tests. Still, he shouldn't make the team.

    MD Crowe is obvious, Sutcliffe is obvious if Turner and Dempster open, so that only leaves one (or two) slots for Donnelly, two Reids and Fleming. Many of you may say Jones; I think he made too many of his big scores on dead pitches (actually, the same holds for Fleming, but I'll worry about that later).

  • robotiger on September 7, 2009, 3:48 GMT

    For me Crowe is the only automatic selection, the rest are a treasure trove of debate. I see many people are backing Donnelly for the team, and while I am drawn to selecting him as well I can't help but think it is slightly irrational. For example, Mathew Sinclair has a comparable first class record to Donnelly and after 8 tests had scored a two scores in excess of 150, and had an average over 45. I'm not saying he should be in the team, nor that he is a better player than Donnelly, merely that if we had only seen Sinclair for those tests, and his first class career, they might regard him differently... I would most likely select Jones, Crowe and JF Reid. Although I can still be persuaded to change on Jones and Reid!

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  • robotiger on September 7, 2009, 3:48 GMT

    For me Crowe is the only automatic selection, the rest are a treasure trove of debate. I see many people are backing Donnelly for the team, and while I am drawn to selecting him as well I can't help but think it is slightly irrational. For example, Mathew Sinclair has a comparable first class record to Donnelly and after 8 tests had scored a two scores in excess of 150, and had an average over 45. I'm not saying he should be in the team, nor that he is a better player than Donnelly, merely that if we had only seen Sinclair for those tests, and his first class career, they might regard him differently... I would most likely select Jones, Crowe and JF Reid. Although I can still be persuaded to change on Jones and Reid!

  • bradluen on September 7, 2009, 4:58 GMT

    Poor Geoff Howarth. He wasn't great for very long, but his run from 1978 to 1981 when he was hitting a century every other match or so beats anything Astle and McMillan ever did in Tests. Still, he shouldn't make the team.

    MD Crowe is obvious, Sutcliffe is obvious if Turner and Dempster open, so that only leaves one (or two) slots for Donnelly, two Reids and Fleming. Many of you may say Jones; I think he made too many of his big scores on dead pitches (actually, the same holds for Fleming, but I'll worry about that later).

  • Karamat23 on September 7, 2009, 5:15 GMT

    Would select John Reid, martin Crowe and Bev Congdon. Suroprising not to see Geoff Howarth and more surprised to see John F. Reid.

  • Nige_C on September 7, 2009, 7:29 GMT

    Some of the earlier players benefit/suffer from limited matches. For example Donnelly, Dempster, Cowie (bowler) etc. It is really hard to judge a player who has only played a handfull of tests. To give example of modern players who would have had a benefited with a fantastic average if only judged on the begining of their careers see either Mark Greatbatch (73.9 after 8 matches) or Matthew Sinclair (52.55 after 12 matches and 2 double centuries) . It is only over time and in a variety of playing conditions and against different opponents that one can really truly judge the abilities of a player. The danger of under or over estimating players with short careers makes the selection task a difficult one as it becomes largely speculation. Hopefully the NZ all time team won't be a team of what if's.

  • Iaminthebath on September 7, 2009, 9:01 GMT

    Easy choice, I think for the whole top six. Turner and Dempster to open. Sutcliffe, Crowe and Donnelly - 3-4-5 ( maybe swap Sutcliffe and Donnelly) and then Reid the all rounder at 6. V Surprised at the lack of support for Sutcliffe above, He was regarded as one of the greatest left handers to have played the game. Always impossible to compare players from different eras but Donnelly has such a romantic place In our folklore and his exploits talked of so fervently I would definitely have him there. Of Course Reid has to be in the team somewhere. I'm interested in the keepers and can't choose between Smith and Wadsworth.

  • FIASNAHK on September 7, 2009, 9:46 GMT

    For me its sutcliffe, crowe and jones, sorry fleming but in 111 matches you should have scored more than 9 centuries.

  • buntyj on September 7, 2009, 10:20 GMT

    for me 3 to 6 are sutcliffe (letting dempster and turner open), donnelly, crowe and john reid since these are all time xi's i would assume that conditions would also reflect the entire time since test cricket? and we are talking about series of 5 tests each? in that case it would be fair and reasonable to divide the over 100 years of test cricket in 5 equal periods and with 1 test from each period reflecting test pitches, days, helmets, bats etc from each respective period so we should have 3 tests on uncovered pitches, 1 3 day, 1 4 day , 1 6 day or timeless, tests, 4 without helmets, only 1 with contemporary bats and gear this would really level the playing field for contenders from across the ages since we assume that all the greats from each period wouldve been great (though perhaps not equally successful) in other periods and make selection that much more interesting

  • ShibajiDebnath on September 7, 2009, 11:24 GMT

    Sir Richard Hadlee should be the automatic choice. He is one of the greatest All rounder in the all time world cricket. Sir Richard Hadlee is the first bowler who completed 400 test wickets in history. Next Martin Crow should be the automatic choice as middle order. Cris Cairnes should be in all time XI. His name should come as all rounder after Sir Richard Hadlee.

  • tauranga on September 7, 2009, 11:39 GMT

    From a Pom living in Pagham,W.Sussex. Crowe, Fleming & Reid all at some stage of their careers World Class. In Flems' case as a Captain. Sutcliffe & Donnelly from a bygone age played too little cricket on a world stage.

  • japroni on September 7, 2009, 12:28 GMT

    ShibajiDebnath I really dont believe we should be putting an allrounder whos strength was bowling in a top 5 of a batting line up of an all-time NZ XI. To even state that Cairns should bat with Hadlee would ensure that the team would be top heavy and open up the chance of a middle order collapse! Cairns will rightly slot into his 6 slot with Hadlee at 7 or 8. With Turner and Sutcliffe opening the innings I would slot Flemo at 3(stylish, Captain Marvel), Crowe at 4 (All time greatest NZ batsmen, could play waqar, wasim and warne in his sleep) and Donnnelly at 5 (Unlucky not have more tests Hall of famer). With Cairns at 6, Ian Smith/McCullum at 7, Hadlee at 8, Vettori at 9 It would be a batting line up to savour!!