Wicketkeepers September 21, 2009

Five for keeps

Pure keeper or keeper-batsman? The old debate resurfaces again
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Allrounders, middle order, spinners, fast bowlers - even openers - you can perhaps compromise on. You can perhaps choose one middle-order batsman fewer and bring in an extra allrounder, you can choose only two specialist fast bowlers and go for an extra spinner or a bowling allrounder, you can even pick no specialist spinner at all; but the wicketkeeper is a member not to be messed with - not in any team.

From New Zealand's first wicketkeeper, Ken James, to their current one, Brendon McCullum, we have five of their finest here, who all present unique cases for themselves.

James was believed to be outstanding, one of the few Test-class cricketers in a side that wasn't ready for Test cricket when it started out, in 1927. Ken Wadsworth's fierce will to win was a bonus, along with his brilliant work behind the stumps. Ian Smith was a proper wicketkeeper-batsman; his dogged batting late in the Test order and handy aggression in ODIs were important to one of the most successful phases in New Zealand history. Adam Parore was perhaps the most consistent Test keeper in the world during his time, and was good enough to hold on to his batting place when Lee Germon took over keeping duties for a brief time. McCullum, though, is the only one on the list who can make the national team even if he decides not to keep wicket; but what exactly are our selectors looking for in their keeper?

Every wicketkeeper is a mix of a batsman and a keeper, but given the number of skilled players among the New Zealand greats, the selectors could be looking for more of a keeper than a batter.

The contenders

Ken Wadsworth "Flamboyant, colourful and confident" - the noted cricket writer Dick Brittenden calls Wadsworth an Aussie. Wadsworth's contribution to the team of the seventies went beyond his 96 dismissals and a batting average of 21.48. A year after death cut short his career when at its peak, the Australians agreed to start their tour match a day before schedule because they wanted to play the Wadsworth testimonial match - and they fielded their Test XI for it.

Ian Smith Smith holds enviable records for his batting. His 173 off 136 balls against India in 1989-90 is the highest for a No. 9, his strike-rate of 99.43 in ODIs is the third-highest for batsmen who have managed 1000 runs, and he also took 24 off one Atul Wasan over - a Test record then. All along, his wicketkeeping hardly ever made the headlines for the wrong reasons, and more importantly, he played his cricket with effervescence and warmth.

Ken James One of the first New Zealand internationals to make an impression outside the country, James excelled while keeping to Bill Merritt's legbreaks and googlies as the two formed an efficient team at Northamptonshire, for whom James scored over a thousand runs in 1938. James was one of the first keepers to stand back to medium-pacers. His lightning reflexes and quick hands helped keep inconspicuous a batting average of 4.72 in Tests.

Adam Parore Nicknamed Maverick, often rebellious, Parore was considered brash. And indeed, if you pulled off dismissals as pictured above, your sense of self-worth would naturally be high. Parore had the skill, and was born in the right era, to have possibly become the first New Zealander to play 100 Tests. The personality clashes that kept him from achieving that landmark can't take away from his fine work both in front of and behind the stumps.

Brendon McCullum Supremely athletic as a wicketkeeper and explosively aggressive as a batsman, McCullum was born for limited-overs cricket, and gives MS Dhoni and Kumar Sangakkara a tough fight when it comes to picking the best current wicketkeeper-batsman. Sangakkara now plays just as a batsman in Tests, which - given the current New Zealand middle order - McCullum can well do too.

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 wicketkeeper click here

Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • mroak1 on September 24, 2009, 5:47 GMT

    Warren Less was also a very good wicket-keeper for NZ,He and Sir Richard Hadlee use to bat well together.Ken Wadsworth too was very good and a more than a hardy lower order batsman as well.

  • Pirihimana on September 23, 2009, 8:52 GMT

    This is a tough choice because what I really want is to splice McCullum's brilliance to Parore's accuracy and bloodymindedness and Smith's wit and exuberance. Then we would have the perfect Keeper.Unfortunately, if NZ Cricket tried it we would probably end up with Smith's talent, Parore's charm and McCullum's consistency, or lack thereof.

    Given that we only have one choice, I would go for Parore for his consistancy and experience keeping to Hadlee, Bond and Vettori, all surely certainties for this team.

  • CardinalNZ on September 23, 2009, 0:24 GMT

    Chairman, you say it's all about the numbers, and that numbers make it all objective - well, the relevant number here, as others have already pointed out, is 4 million - the population of NZ. Considering that, we've often punched above our weight in international cricket. Yes Kiwi cricket fans would love to see some more consistent results, but the fact is (as this exercise is pointing out) we've produced what is really a surprising amount of more than handy cricketers, all factors considered.

    As to this debate, McCullum is probably our most under-perfoming player currently, and seems to be rated much more highly overseas than he is here at home (probably because we follow his every performance, while overseas cricket fans know him more from a few prominent innings, like the tonne in the first ever IPL game. Sadly these are all too rare). Smith on the other hand gave his all on the field and was named the best keeper in the world (when playing) by Hadlee - that's good enough for me.

  • amdtelrunya on September 22, 2009, 23:58 GMT

    Sri Lanka has produced more quality cricketers? Great batsmen for sure, but can anybody name me a Sri Lankan bowler outside of Vaas and Muralitharan that is world class. And I would pick at least 10 NZ pace bowlers of better quality ahead of Vaas in a team any day of the week.

  • amdtelrunya on September 22, 2009, 21:02 GMT

    ChairmanValvod - I agree with you generally though with the overall quality of NZ cricketers compared to other countries. Yet when it comes to selecting an all time team this NZ side would foot it with any of the others on show. Particularly the bowling side of things where we have great bowlers (and stats back this up) like Hadlee, Bond and Cowie, all with averages in the low 20s and a world class all rounder like Cairns. I don't think all subcontinent seamers are rubbish just because many of them have high averages because they play on batter friendly pitches. Just because Kapil Dev had a bowling average of close to 30 doesn't make him any less of a world class bowler. The point is you have to take into account local factors. Also if you look at NZ's series results from the 80s, there was a 7-8 year stretch where we hardly lost a series, and even beat the WI. Not many other teams did that at that time. Along with Pakistan, NZ was probably the no. 1 team for a time.

  • amdtelrunya on September 22, 2009, 20:51 GMT

    ChairmanValvod - batting is pretty secondary for a keeper if they have poor keeping skills. Using the example of Tendulkar is ridiculous, particularly citing ODI figures when this article is about test players. Players like Tendulkar hardly come around every day, and his figures put in the shade just about every other player. Its no suprise he has so many hundreds given the number of ODIs he has played. A player like Jayasuriya also has a lot of ODI hundreds yet he averages in the low 30s. And yet NZ players would probably be considered worse just because they haven't played the sheer number of games he has? You obviously have never played on an NZ pitch, where compared to the dead wickets for bowlers on the subcontinent, runs are much harder to come by. This is a statistical fact, all batsmen (NZ and overseas players) have performed worse over here than in their home conditions. It is only very recently NZ pitches have flattened out.

  • thefatladysings on September 22, 2009, 20:33 GMT

    Valve, you're getting away from the task at hand, namely picking the greatest ever NZ team. Call me Susan and cover me with gaffer tape but no-one ever won a game of cricket on paper (no offense to the scorers). So even though our mediocre battlers might on average score 150 fewer runs than their Aussie equivalents over 5 days this doesn't mean we won't beat them in a test series. Cricket's a team game which requires character and other human qualities - only robots score to their average every game. The English team of 2005 was inferior to the Aussie team yet won the ashes. And that Aussie team had a backbone of true masters like McGrath, Warne, Gilchrist, Ponting and Hayden and a few other world class mates to back them up. The stats meant nothing. Give me Hadlee, Bond and Cowie charging in to Bradman and co and I'll back our chances. Our batting's a bit stat-lite, but I think Turner, Sutcliffe, Crowe and Dempster would enjoy batting on these easy-peasy modern pitches against anyone.

  • ChairmanValvod on September 22, 2009, 16:02 GMT

    Let me highlight further by what I mean by NZ sub par cricketers. Take for example an interesting stat that I just read on cricinfo. The enitrety of NZ cricketers in all theri ODI history have scored only 26 more centuries than sachin Tendulkar alone. Tendulkar has 44 ODI tons to NZ's overall 70. Does that not strike anyone as plain old unacceptable. If I were to guess, I would New Zealand is probably ahead of only Bangladesh and Zimbabwe in century's scored in both formats. Sri Lanka became a full member nation much much later than NZ, but I can safely say that they have achieved and produced immeasurably more and better by way of wins and quality cricekters than NZ. There are probably so many more examples I can make. And no I am not from Sri Lanka.

  • ChairmanValvod on September 22, 2009, 15:53 GMT

    No matter how one tries to sugarcoat the fact, you can call it grit, determination, and so forth, but those words, no matter how glorious they sound, do not translate into championships or greatness, or bottomline, wins. Call it for what it is, mediocrity. If this is the best list of all time NZ wicket keepers, it's simply mediocore. You can try and sugarcoat the facts, but numbers don't lie. Numbers cut out the subjective and emotion out of things. The numbers for NZ cricketers in general are just absurdly mediocore compared to the other Test playing nations. The truth is is sometimes tought to digest. There's nothing wrong with that. You should call out your cricketadministrators and cricketers for what they are. Hopefully it improvges the cricket standards in NZ abnd they start producing some real world class and world beating talent. I know my country has produced its share of mediocore cricketers, but thankfully we have a lot more world class cricketers aroudn as well.

  • RichDeGroen on September 22, 2009, 12:19 GMT

    I'm a little tired of hearing the old excuse that NZ batsmen have low averges because of pitch conditions in NZ. With the one exception of Stephen Fleming all of our other top batsmen from the last 25 years average far higher playing at home than away. The simple reason NZ batsmen have lower overall averages than overseas batsmen is that the tend to be poorer batsmen. We just don't produce top flight international cricketers regularly. But I think as far as keepers go, there are some really good glovemen among this lot, I think Parore being the finest. He was the premiere keeper in the world during his time, and a classy, if unfulfilled, test batsman. McCullum has done nothing at test level to deserve a reputation as a test batsman, aside from a couple of good 90's in England. After nearly 50 tests it's a little late to be playing on 'potential'. A prediction: McCullum's test performances will continue to slide until he calls quits to chase 20/20 money for a living.

  • mroak1 on September 24, 2009, 5:47 GMT

    Warren Less was also a very good wicket-keeper for NZ,He and Sir Richard Hadlee use to bat well together.Ken Wadsworth too was very good and a more than a hardy lower order batsman as well.

  • Pirihimana on September 23, 2009, 8:52 GMT

    This is a tough choice because what I really want is to splice McCullum's brilliance to Parore's accuracy and bloodymindedness and Smith's wit and exuberance. Then we would have the perfect Keeper.Unfortunately, if NZ Cricket tried it we would probably end up with Smith's talent, Parore's charm and McCullum's consistency, or lack thereof.

    Given that we only have one choice, I would go for Parore for his consistancy and experience keeping to Hadlee, Bond and Vettori, all surely certainties for this team.

  • CardinalNZ on September 23, 2009, 0:24 GMT

    Chairman, you say it's all about the numbers, and that numbers make it all objective - well, the relevant number here, as others have already pointed out, is 4 million - the population of NZ. Considering that, we've often punched above our weight in international cricket. Yes Kiwi cricket fans would love to see some more consistent results, but the fact is (as this exercise is pointing out) we've produced what is really a surprising amount of more than handy cricketers, all factors considered.

    As to this debate, McCullum is probably our most under-perfoming player currently, and seems to be rated much more highly overseas than he is here at home (probably because we follow his every performance, while overseas cricket fans know him more from a few prominent innings, like the tonne in the first ever IPL game. Sadly these are all too rare). Smith on the other hand gave his all on the field and was named the best keeper in the world (when playing) by Hadlee - that's good enough for me.

  • amdtelrunya on September 22, 2009, 23:58 GMT

    Sri Lanka has produced more quality cricketers? Great batsmen for sure, but can anybody name me a Sri Lankan bowler outside of Vaas and Muralitharan that is world class. And I would pick at least 10 NZ pace bowlers of better quality ahead of Vaas in a team any day of the week.

  • amdtelrunya on September 22, 2009, 21:02 GMT

    ChairmanValvod - I agree with you generally though with the overall quality of NZ cricketers compared to other countries. Yet when it comes to selecting an all time team this NZ side would foot it with any of the others on show. Particularly the bowling side of things where we have great bowlers (and stats back this up) like Hadlee, Bond and Cowie, all with averages in the low 20s and a world class all rounder like Cairns. I don't think all subcontinent seamers are rubbish just because many of them have high averages because they play on batter friendly pitches. Just because Kapil Dev had a bowling average of close to 30 doesn't make him any less of a world class bowler. The point is you have to take into account local factors. Also if you look at NZ's series results from the 80s, there was a 7-8 year stretch where we hardly lost a series, and even beat the WI. Not many other teams did that at that time. Along with Pakistan, NZ was probably the no. 1 team for a time.

  • amdtelrunya on September 22, 2009, 20:51 GMT

    ChairmanValvod - batting is pretty secondary for a keeper if they have poor keeping skills. Using the example of Tendulkar is ridiculous, particularly citing ODI figures when this article is about test players. Players like Tendulkar hardly come around every day, and his figures put in the shade just about every other player. Its no suprise he has so many hundreds given the number of ODIs he has played. A player like Jayasuriya also has a lot of ODI hundreds yet he averages in the low 30s. And yet NZ players would probably be considered worse just because they haven't played the sheer number of games he has? You obviously have never played on an NZ pitch, where compared to the dead wickets for bowlers on the subcontinent, runs are much harder to come by. This is a statistical fact, all batsmen (NZ and overseas players) have performed worse over here than in their home conditions. It is only very recently NZ pitches have flattened out.

  • thefatladysings on September 22, 2009, 20:33 GMT

    Valve, you're getting away from the task at hand, namely picking the greatest ever NZ team. Call me Susan and cover me with gaffer tape but no-one ever won a game of cricket on paper (no offense to the scorers). So even though our mediocre battlers might on average score 150 fewer runs than their Aussie equivalents over 5 days this doesn't mean we won't beat them in a test series. Cricket's a team game which requires character and other human qualities - only robots score to their average every game. The English team of 2005 was inferior to the Aussie team yet won the ashes. And that Aussie team had a backbone of true masters like McGrath, Warne, Gilchrist, Ponting and Hayden and a few other world class mates to back them up. The stats meant nothing. Give me Hadlee, Bond and Cowie charging in to Bradman and co and I'll back our chances. Our batting's a bit stat-lite, but I think Turner, Sutcliffe, Crowe and Dempster would enjoy batting on these easy-peasy modern pitches against anyone.

  • ChairmanValvod on September 22, 2009, 16:02 GMT

    Let me highlight further by what I mean by NZ sub par cricketers. Take for example an interesting stat that I just read on cricinfo. The enitrety of NZ cricketers in all theri ODI history have scored only 26 more centuries than sachin Tendulkar alone. Tendulkar has 44 ODI tons to NZ's overall 70. Does that not strike anyone as plain old unacceptable. If I were to guess, I would New Zealand is probably ahead of only Bangladesh and Zimbabwe in century's scored in both formats. Sri Lanka became a full member nation much much later than NZ, but I can safely say that they have achieved and produced immeasurably more and better by way of wins and quality cricekters than NZ. There are probably so many more examples I can make. And no I am not from Sri Lanka.

  • ChairmanValvod on September 22, 2009, 15:53 GMT

    No matter how one tries to sugarcoat the fact, you can call it grit, determination, and so forth, but those words, no matter how glorious they sound, do not translate into championships or greatness, or bottomline, wins. Call it for what it is, mediocrity. If this is the best list of all time NZ wicket keepers, it's simply mediocore. You can try and sugarcoat the facts, but numbers don't lie. Numbers cut out the subjective and emotion out of things. The numbers for NZ cricketers in general are just absurdly mediocore compared to the other Test playing nations. The truth is is sometimes tought to digest. There's nothing wrong with that. You should call out your cricketadministrators and cricketers for what they are. Hopefully it improvges the cricket standards in NZ abnd they start producing some real world class and world beating talent. I know my country has produced its share of mediocore cricketers, but thankfully we have a lot more world class cricketers aroudn as well.

  • RichDeGroen on September 22, 2009, 12:19 GMT

    I'm a little tired of hearing the old excuse that NZ batsmen have low averges because of pitch conditions in NZ. With the one exception of Stephen Fleming all of our other top batsmen from the last 25 years average far higher playing at home than away. The simple reason NZ batsmen have lower overall averages than overseas batsmen is that the tend to be poorer batsmen. We just don't produce top flight international cricketers regularly. But I think as far as keepers go, there are some really good glovemen among this lot, I think Parore being the finest. He was the premiere keeper in the world during his time, and a classy, if unfulfilled, test batsman. McCullum has done nothing at test level to deserve a reputation as a test batsman, aside from a couple of good 90's in England. After nearly 50 tests it's a little late to be playing on 'potential'. A prediction: McCullum's test performances will continue to slide until he calls quits to chase 20/20 money for a living.

  • Ruthlesscritic on September 22, 2009, 12:17 GMT

    Ian Smith is by far and away better than McCullum for the simple fact that he does not have the most horific tattoos known to man all over his body

  • PrinzPaulEugen on September 22, 2009, 11:47 GMT

    I'll go for Adam Parore, mainly for his ability to not only frustrate, but stick it right up the (arguably) greatest Australian team ever back in the early noughties. I might be an arrogant Aussie, but I judge Kiwi players on how they fare against us. Adam was second to none for sticking it to us.

  • StevieS on September 22, 2009, 10:45 GMT

    ChairmanValvod you are joking surely, McCullum, Parore and Smith are light years ahead of Dhoni at keeping, you do realise the main job of the wicketkeeper is, shock horror, to keep wickets? Dhoni in particular is a average keeper to say the least.

  • Nintalan on September 22, 2009, 5:07 GMT

    Well I saw Ian Smith's 173 in Auckland and it was quite the most exhilirating innings I have seen. I recall the absolute joy that everyone had in his unlikely acheivement. Smith didn't have the technique of McCullum, Parore or even Wadsworth (can't comment on Ken James sorry), and wasn't as athletic as McCullum or Parore. However like Wadsworth, whose time was cut short, Smith had "bottle". He epitomised the Kiwi battler, fighting above his weight.

    One other point that I think is important. The keeper is the person that supports others and keeps the team spirit up whilst feilding. Smithy was and is (currently a cricket and rugby TV commentator) a positive, witty and genuine guy.

  • buntyj on September 22, 2009, 3:45 GMT

    my vote is for smith though its not an easy choice

  • horace09 on September 22, 2009, 0:06 GMT

    have only seen smith, mccullum and parore play - mccullum is a certain pick for ODI/T20 but don't think he has proven his class in the test side yet, the talent is there but has not come through, hopefully soon! parore was probably the most gifted of the three but again don't think he ever really fulfilled his potential, superb batting technique but never achieved the consistency that the team really needed from him - then there is the reported attitude problems and that he was not a team man, probably too much pressure on him as a young guy in a sub par team. smithy, the best cricket commentator going round, great keeper, very useful and gutsy batter and a good team man, he kept behind our greatest bowler extraordinarily well and is the only one of the three who played to his full potential - that potential may be less than mccullum and parori from a batting perspective but at least he reached that potential - he has got my vote.

  • kiwi_fan7035 on September 21, 2009, 23:22 GMT

    chairmanvelvod thats a bit harsh parore was easily the best keeper in the world post healy and baz (with the gloves forgot his talented yet fruitless batting) is right up there now with the best glovemen - easily a better gloveman than dhoni ( not saying id pick him ahead of him though overall once u consider the batting) and smithy likewise was one of the best in his era.

    You are also simplifying things when u say mccullum is not a good one day player - since the world cup in 07 wen he has been opening on a regular basis since he averages around 38 with a sr in the 90s. - figures superior to gilly and he doesnt get to face obrien, martin mills patel and co!

    Also to say daniel vettori is not world class is ridiculous his last 5 years he averages around 40 with the bat and 28 with the ball in tests and is easily one of the best limited overs bowlers around. sure his stats are supported by performances against minnows but again he doesnt get to ball our inconsistent batting unit

  • robotiger on September 21, 2009, 22:45 GMT

    Tough choice. McCullum has all the potential in the world, but hasn't delivered. Smith probably benefits from playing in a winning era. Yeah, what is with people picking Morrison? Not quite sure what Chairman Valvod's point is. How they stack up against other teams is irrelevant...we're trying to pick a NZ eleven, not a world eleven... Agreed NZ doesn't have many great batsman or bowlers, but I think keepers is a slightly different case. Keepers who have batting averages above 35 are a new phenomenon. But it is still very rare to find keepers with great batting averages, who are also good behind the stumps. Dhoni, Flower, and Gilchrist have keeping skills are far below Smith, Parore and even McCullum. I was surprised Gilchrist was picked above Healy and Marsh. Also, catch/stumping/matches ratios are a product of chances produced by the bowlers, not necessarily chances converted by keepers.

  • themandible on September 21, 2009, 21:52 GMT

    McCullum is a top keeper and he keeps developing. His batting is mildly suspect but his ability to score tough runs isn't going to be important in this team with the likes of rigor, wright, crowe, fleming, sutcliffe, reid, cairns etc infront of him, if anything he'll be the number 8 with a license to play. We aren't looking for a batsman, we're looking for a keeper. McCullum has kept to NZ's quicker and better bowlers (excluding Hadlee - and I'm not saying Marto and OBrien and Butler are better than Chats and Motz etc, just quicker) and his keeping to veto is superb. He is also an incredible competitor. I wouldn't begrudge the job to Smithy or Parore though (however if this team was actually put together smith would be incapable of anything but rolling the pitch.

  • amdtelrunya on September 21, 2009, 21:10 GMT

    NZ doesn't have a strong spinning tradition like the subcontinent teams so its no suprise they don't have high numbers of stumpings.

    I don't know much about James, but that batting average is Chris Martin-esque. Warren Lees could possibly make this list actually. It can't be McCullum, his 3 hundreds have come against Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and the run fest against India this year. He never seems to halt NZ collapses but rather falls for Vettori to clean up. Wadsworth was handy but for me it comes down to Smith and Parore. Parore gave away hardly any byes (may have held the record at one stage) and scored over 50 in one every 8 innings. Smith in contrast was 1 in 11, however 5 of Parore's 50s came against Zimbabwe, and always thought Parore was a better batsman than his stats suggest. I'm going for Smith (just) over Parore.

  • bringbackleegermon on September 21, 2009, 20:33 GMT

    Aaron is right, NZ teams are about character and guts as much as about numbers. Well they used to be anyway. McCullum has the talent but he can't beat Smith, Parore or Wadsworth for this because of his lack of character. He has shown a lack of character and application in his batting at least, and sometimes it seems he's more trouble that he's worth. He can stick to the IPL and leave the real cricket to the true NZ greats.

  • Mr_Pazario on September 21, 2009, 20:29 GMT

    I would like to know where some of our fellow cricinfo fans are coming from. They are rather scathing about the playing stock in NZ. I wonder if they realise that the population is only now just a bit over 4 million. Consider India has a population over 1 billion, England a population over 50 million. Simply because NZ players may not make a number of international teams does not lessen their achievements nor the fun in selecting an 'all time best XI' for the country.

    ChairmanValvod fails to consider the fact that these 'keepers won't have kept wicket to a dominant pace or spin attack - how could they possibly have great numbers of catches and stumpings (I wonder what the Chairman defines as a great ratio?). Has the Chairman also considered that playing half your tests in NZ significantly lowers your batting average - as it does for many visiting test batsmen also.

    For the record I would pick Parore. At his best very classy with bat and gloves.

  • AaronBell on September 21, 2009, 16:23 GMT

    @ChairmanVelvod - You don't appear to have much idea of the spirit or history of cricket in NZ. Because of the weather & pitch conditions there, because of the small player base, because throughout its cricketing history NZ has been looked down upon, has struggled to get regular top-class opposition, has had its successes explained away as anomalies and some of its greatest players ruined by injury, NZers measure their cricketers by different criteria than those of other nations. Our cricketers are rated for their guts, determination, and character as much as they are rated for their statistics. If you can't understand that, then that's your problem, not the problem of the persons here nominated.

  • Cooch on September 21, 2009, 16:16 GMT

    Sorry to all those rose-tinted McCullum fans who have commented here. At this stage in his TEST career he is quite possibly the most disappointing player in the NZ team - so much talent, so little graft. Hence his disappointing stats. He still has time to develop into the best wicketkeeper-batsman NZ has produced, but to my mind Ian Smith and Adam Parore are ahead of him by some margin.

    Parore was also a tremendous talent but, like many NZ cricketers at the time and since (Cairns, Fleming, Nash), distractions prevented him being better than the numbers he ended his career with. Smith was a super player who made the most of what he had. There has never been a more spectacular innings by a keeper than that 173 against India.

  • rdr_1019 on September 21, 2009, 14:26 GMT

    For me, McCullum shouldn't even be in this list. So far, he have played some good knocks, and is decent with his glove work. On the other hand, Parore have done exceptionally well with his glove work, and had a decent batting record as well. so this one should hopefully go to Adam Parore.

  • ChairmanValvod on September 21, 2009, 13:50 GMT

    As I have mentioned many a times before, the only two undisputed World Class cricketers NZ has ever produced, two cricketers who were one of the best in their roles at the time in the world when they played, Richard Hadlee and Martin Crowe. Even Vettori, seems to me quitre over rated. He's taken a massive percentage ogf his over all wickets againmst the minnows. And he is no where in the top three of his playing peers for most of his career, (that would be, Warne, Kumble, Murali). NZ have got to do a better job at producing world class cricketers to represent them at the world class level. The recent showing they out on in Sri Lanka says it all and is pretty consistent with NZ cricekt at the international level, save for some fruitful days in the mid to late 80's to early 90's, when Hadlee and Crowe were at their zenith.

  • ChairmanValvod on September 21, 2009, 13:45 GMT

    Once again, this list of prospective NZ wicketkeeprs highlights just how utterly pathetic and almost sub-par NZ cricketers have been over the years compared to the other Test playing nations. There is not a single name on this list that stands out as world class. Not a single. Not a single one of these would make it on World XI or A teams. Not a single one of these Wicketkeepers has an outstanding ratio of cathces or stumpings, and worse, not a single one of their batting averages in any format is more than 30 or 33, or something pathetic to that effect. To even compare McCUllom to Dhoni and Sangakarra is so ridiculous its almost comical! Is this list seriously the best NZ has to offer by way of wicket keeping. If I had to choose from this sub par lot, on wicketkeeping abilities, it would Parore, on batting abilities it would be McCullom. But here's the problem, niether of them would make it on those abilities on any world team.

  • tomemy on September 21, 2009, 13:44 GMT

    It has to be Ian Smith, although Parore was a better batsman i thunk Smith was the better all-round player, good keeper who could score fast test centuries. McCullum could only come into consideration if it was a "all time kiwi ODI team" but its not. If you take McCullums tests against test minnows out of his career stats then hes left with a shocking test average, definantly not worthy of his overall potential. Smith was also a great combination with Sir Richard.

  • RichDeGroen on September 21, 2009, 13:16 GMT

    No McCullum. His keeping was very patchy up until 2 seasons ago, regularly dropping clangers due to poor footwork and poor concentration. His keeping HAS drastically improved but his batting has also fallen to pieces. He is probably the most overrated player in the game today, and in my opinion, has a MAJOR attitude problem. His reluctance to put his head down and score tough runs when the team is under the pump is a really big problem in NZ's current test middle order. On current form he doesn't deserve his test spot in the side now, let alone an all-time XI. I would tend towards picking Parore, for his pure skill and professionalism as a keeper, or Smith for the same reason and with a better personality. Both are far superior keepers to McCullum. For what it's worth I think McCullum should have the gloves taken off him altogether to make him hold a spot as a batsman. The gloves can go to Reece Young, the guy who is actually the best performed keeper/batsman of the last 2 years.

  • Engle on September 21, 2009, 12:57 GMT

    Hello ! You need to expedite this process of selecting an All-Time XI. Much too slow. Thanks,

  • StevieS on September 21, 2009, 12:25 GMT

    Parore in the later part of his career was a good a keeper as anyone I have ever seen from any country, does he still hold the record for most balls without a bye? McCullum is over rated (with the bat), he is a flat track bull, but his keeping is I would argue currently the best in the world. Tough choice.

  • kiwi_fan7035 on September 21, 2009, 11:39 GMT

    this 1 - along with deciding between reid and cairns in the all rounders stakes is the hardest pick. But for me it has to go to McCullum but only by a whiskar. If I was teaching a boy to keep up to the stumps i would tell them to watch Parore keeping to Vettori he was outstandng and athletic further back (always got 2 hands where b mac goes 1 ) but b mac is too talented to leave out and will prove it over the next 5 years... heres hoping. Smithy and Wadsworth were excellent keepers as well but smith was more handy with the bat rather than McCullum who is a genuine stroke maker. James long b4 my day to comment. Morrison! you have got to be kidding - he would be lucky to make the 2nd 11 he would be behind hadlee, cowie, bond hell even nash, motz, collinge, taylor would be better bets

  • nikhildevdesai on September 21, 2009, 11:32 GMT

    I don't know why McCullum is giving such importance. I don't remember the last time he scored significant runs or had a winning knock. He is much more like Afridi. He will fail more often than not. He will play a good knock every 5-7 games, which is not consistent. His ODI average of 29 is below par so you can't say that he was born to play limited over. How can you even compare him with Sanga or Dhoni. They both are world class. Sanga has played many winning knocks for his team and Dhoni for the past two years have been brilliant, often scoring half centuries. I don't think its right to compare McCullum to these two batsmen.

  • youfoundme on September 21, 2009, 10:37 GMT

    I think it's a no-brainer, it has to be McCullum.. he can bat, and he still has a lot more to offer, no doubt about it. And arguably, one of the best behind the stumps.

  • Jambo22 on September 21, 2009, 9:22 GMT

    First of all .. "the accuracy of Morrison"??? Danny Morrison? He can't even grow two sideburns the same length, let alone bowl six balls on the same length. Anyway, despite being a massive McCullum fan, I would go for Smith because he was more dependable and fought harder than McCullum does, particularly in tests. Smith's ODI strike rate of just under 100 is outstanding for someone who played in the 80s. During that time he was arguably the best keeper in world cricket.

  • avinash11may on September 21, 2009, 7:30 GMT

    My choice for wicket keeper would be McCullum because of his superior batting prowess. Moreover, his selection seems imminent if we go with four batsmen, two batting all-rounders, two bowling all-rounders and two out and out fast-bowlers. My team would be: 1. Turner, 2. Sutcliff, 3. Fleming, 4. Martin Crowe, 5. J. Reid, 6. McCullum, 7. Chris Crains, 8. Hadlee, 9. Vettori, 10. Bond and 11. Morrison. This seems to be the most well balanced New Zealand side. It bats really deep and has amazing variety in the bowling. The swing of Hadlee, pace of Bond, accuracy of Morrison, spin of Vettori and wicket-taking capabilities of Crains and Reid make it a dream bowling side.

  • batra555 on September 21, 2009, 7:00 GMT

    statsshank,...........um Ken James had a batting average of 4.72 in Tests.

  • Nipun on September 21, 2009, 5:47 GMT

    Adam Parore is fine.McCullum has NEVER delivered under pressure & remains,more or less,a minnow basher.Even his minnow bashing qualities are now in wane !

  • bradluen on September 21, 2009, 5:15 GMT

    It kind of has to be McCullum: despite his inconsistency, he's easily the best batsman on the list, and has proven himself as a keeper against spin and extreme pace (i.e. Vettori and Bond). Parore is kind of underrated because of how annoying he was, and his doggedness is something McCullum could learn from; still, he couldn't change a game the way McCullum occasionally has. Great Kiwi bloke IDS Smith did change a game once -- that would be the 173 -- but he's more suited to the all-time commentary box. Wadsworth might still be regarded as NZ's best pure keeper had he lived, though he wasn't an elite batsman. James was better than his Test average suggests, but pioneering standing back to the dibblies is a negative in my book. As long as he can come in at number 9 (below Vettori and Hadlee), thus relieving him of the responsibility to do any more with the bat than have a bit of a dash, I'll take McCullum.

  • adamtwittey on September 21, 2009, 4:53 GMT

    I agree with Maui that NZ would need a keeper-batsman, but disagree with the choice of McCullum. Ian Smith was possibly a greater batsman than McCullum: McCullum's average is superior (31 to 25) but you must also consider the period in which Smith played, and the lower position he batted in. McCullum's prowess springs to mind only because of his freakish 20/20 exploits, where Smith would also have shone given the opportunity.

  • statshank on September 21, 2009, 4:24 GMT

    NZ is probably the only country which has produced a comprehensive WK/Batsman combination in the sense that each of the WK could possibly play as a batsman alone. I also think Warren Lees deserves a mention. His aggressive batting was useful especially the century in Pakistan

  • wobman on September 21, 2009, 4:00 GMT

    As long as he's kept in the middle order, Brendon McCullum should be chosen. He is far more effective down in the middle order than in the top order, and is a far better wicketkeeper than Parore. Should be chosen as a wicketkeeper alone, and not as a keeper/batsman.

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  • wobman on September 21, 2009, 4:00 GMT

    As long as he's kept in the middle order, Brendon McCullum should be chosen. He is far more effective down in the middle order than in the top order, and is a far better wicketkeeper than Parore. Should be chosen as a wicketkeeper alone, and not as a keeper/batsman.

  • statshank on September 21, 2009, 4:24 GMT

    NZ is probably the only country which has produced a comprehensive WK/Batsman combination in the sense that each of the WK could possibly play as a batsman alone. I also think Warren Lees deserves a mention. His aggressive batting was useful especially the century in Pakistan

  • adamtwittey on September 21, 2009, 4:53 GMT

    I agree with Maui that NZ would need a keeper-batsman, but disagree with the choice of McCullum. Ian Smith was possibly a greater batsman than McCullum: McCullum's average is superior (31 to 25) but you must also consider the period in which Smith played, and the lower position he batted in. McCullum's prowess springs to mind only because of his freakish 20/20 exploits, where Smith would also have shone given the opportunity.

  • bradluen on September 21, 2009, 5:15 GMT

    It kind of has to be McCullum: despite his inconsistency, he's easily the best batsman on the list, and has proven himself as a keeper against spin and extreme pace (i.e. Vettori and Bond). Parore is kind of underrated because of how annoying he was, and his doggedness is something McCullum could learn from; still, he couldn't change a game the way McCullum occasionally has. Great Kiwi bloke IDS Smith did change a game once -- that would be the 173 -- but he's more suited to the all-time commentary box. Wadsworth might still be regarded as NZ's best pure keeper had he lived, though he wasn't an elite batsman. James was better than his Test average suggests, but pioneering standing back to the dibblies is a negative in my book. As long as he can come in at number 9 (below Vettori and Hadlee), thus relieving him of the responsibility to do any more with the bat than have a bit of a dash, I'll take McCullum.

  • Nipun on September 21, 2009, 5:47 GMT

    Adam Parore is fine.McCullum has NEVER delivered under pressure & remains,more or less,a minnow basher.Even his minnow bashing qualities are now in wane !

  • batra555 on September 21, 2009, 7:00 GMT

    statsshank,...........um Ken James had a batting average of 4.72 in Tests.

  • avinash11may on September 21, 2009, 7:30 GMT

    My choice for wicket keeper would be McCullum because of his superior batting prowess. Moreover, his selection seems imminent if we go with four batsmen, two batting all-rounders, two bowling all-rounders and two out and out fast-bowlers. My team would be: 1. Turner, 2. Sutcliff, 3. Fleming, 4. Martin Crowe, 5. J. Reid, 6. McCullum, 7. Chris Crains, 8. Hadlee, 9. Vettori, 10. Bond and 11. Morrison. This seems to be the most well balanced New Zealand side. It bats really deep and has amazing variety in the bowling. The swing of Hadlee, pace of Bond, accuracy of Morrison, spin of Vettori and wicket-taking capabilities of Crains and Reid make it a dream bowling side.

  • Jambo22 on September 21, 2009, 9:22 GMT

    First of all .. "the accuracy of Morrison"??? Danny Morrison? He can't even grow two sideburns the same length, let alone bowl six balls on the same length. Anyway, despite being a massive McCullum fan, I would go for Smith because he was more dependable and fought harder than McCullum does, particularly in tests. Smith's ODI strike rate of just under 100 is outstanding for someone who played in the 80s. During that time he was arguably the best keeper in world cricket.

  • youfoundme on September 21, 2009, 10:37 GMT

    I think it's a no-brainer, it has to be McCullum.. he can bat, and he still has a lot more to offer, no doubt about it. And arguably, one of the best behind the stumps.

  • nikhildevdesai on September 21, 2009, 11:32 GMT

    I don't know why McCullum is giving such importance. I don't remember the last time he scored significant runs or had a winning knock. He is much more like Afridi. He will fail more often than not. He will play a good knock every 5-7 games, which is not consistent. His ODI average of 29 is below par so you can't say that he was born to play limited over. How can you even compare him with Sanga or Dhoni. They both are world class. Sanga has played many winning knocks for his team and Dhoni for the past two years have been brilliant, often scoring half centuries. I don't think its right to compare McCullum to these two batsmen.