Allrounders September 14, 2009

Men of many parts

No Vettori or Hadlee, but there are still four strong contenders for the allrounder spot

Now we come to those rarities in international cricket, men who provide sides with balance, men who allow sides to place prolonged trust in the specialists around them. And, as is true of two on New Zealand's shortlist for this segment, the big stars, the alpha males.

John Reid and Chris Cairns were obviously the big stars of the teams they played in, the extroverts whose personalities found complete expression when playing cricket. Both could have gone on to represent New Zealand in rugby too, but fate brought them to cricket. Up against them is Bruce Taylor, who made the sort of start people dream of, scoring 105 when he batted for the first time in Tests, and taking 5 for 86 the first time he bowled.

As has been the trend worldwide, New Zealand too have struggled for allrounders since Cairns' retirement. Daniel Vettori can lay claim to being one, but as he himself considers his bowling his primary skill and batting a bonus, for the purpose of this poll he is better considered a specialist bowler. Ditto with Richard Hadlee.

The contenders

John R Reid Would have been an allrounder in the most complete sense possible but for an attack of rheumatic fever early in his career. Before that, he was a better rugby player than he was a cricketer, but he couldn't pursue his stronger sport to add to his batting, bowling, fielding and wicketkeeping feats on cricket fields.

Bruce Taylor His century and five-for on debut, against India at Eden Gardens, remains a record untouched. He followed that up with a 5 for 26 in the next Test. In seven Tests against West Indies he averaged 53 with the bat and 23 with the ball. An aggressive batsman, and a canny medium-pacer, Taylor played 30 Tests during which he just fell short of completing the 1000-runs-100-wickets double.

Chris Cairns When not a rebel or injured or simply self-destructing, Cairns was as fine an allrounder as any of his time, a clean hitter of the ball, and a potentially devastating bowler. That he could never achieve consistency, and that he managed only 62 Tests, meant his figures of 3320 runs (at 33.53) and 218 wickets (29.40) were a poor justification of his prodigious talent.

Jacob Oram His suceptibility to injury has reduced the 1.98-metre tall Oram to bowling restrictive medium pace in Tests, and he has commented that the modern game with its busy calendar is not a breeding ground for Test allrounders. But five centuries in 33 Tests is not a bad return if his doubling up as a change-up bowler is considered.

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 allrounders click here

Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo

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