Five for keeps
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.
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.
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