Fast bowlers October 5, 2009

Seven for two

One spot's a no-brainer. So who will the other two be?

Fast bowling has been New Zealand's strength, but at the same time, the number of years their fast men have lost to injuries has been a big source of frustration. After Richard Hadlee, almost every New Zealand pace bowler has had to deal with recurring injuries. Before him, in the sixties, Gary Bartlett, arguably the fastest New Zealand had produced until then, was a cautionary tale of a fast bowler lost to injury. Dick Motz, around the same time, went around bowling with a displaced vertebra without knowing of the condition. The pattern Bartlett set still holds: demanding action , recurring injuries, frustrated followers, and insinuations that the injuries are in the mind and not the body. Bartlett managed only 10 Tests, and doesn't make it to the shortlist: nor do Geoff Allott, Dion Nash and Simon Doull.

Regardless, the men who make it cut across eras, character types and kinds of fast bowling. There is the all-round mastery of Hadlee, the earnestness of Ewen Chatfield and Chris Martin, the swing of Danny Morrison and Motz, the pace of Shane Bond, the left-arm accuracy of Richard Collinge, and the pre-war mastery of Jack Cowie.

Cowie takes us back to the question Stewie Dempster posed in the openers' section: He didn't get enough opportunities to play in his day, but was rated very highly among his contemporaries for what he achieved when he did. This decision becomes more difficult than the one with the openers, because Hadlee inevitably is sure to take one place, which leaves seven others to fight for the remaining two.

The contenders

Jack Cowie "Had he been an Australian, he might have been termed a wonder of the age," said the Wisden of 1938, a year after Cowie took 114 wickets at less than 20 on the tour to England. Nicknamed "Bull" for his strong will, he played in all of New Zealand's Tests during his time - nine - and was considered second only to Hadlee in terms of skill.

Dick Motz Before he learnt of the 18-month-old injury that would end his career, Motz became the first New Zealander to take over 100 Test wickets. Not express, but extremely accurate with his outwingers, Motz hardly ever bowled rank bad spells.

Richard Collinge Collinge's height - 6'5" - and his left-arm angle made him a tricky customer. He ended as New Zealand's highest wicket-taker - with 116 - and was part of New Zealand teams that achieved the country's first wins against Australia and England.

Richard Hadlee The greatest New Zealand cricketer ever, and one of the most complete fast bowlers of all time, Hadlee was one in a quartet of the greatest allrounders in world cricket. A smart, committed cricketer, from being a young tearaway he went on to become a model fast bowler. He was the first man to reach 400 wickets, and in just 80 Tests at that.

Ewen Chatfield Everybody loved Chatfield. Tall, unkempt hair, long sideburns, moustache - he was the perfect, untiring, unyielding foil to Hadlee in New Zealand's best period for fast bowling. He took 123 wickets in Tests, and was responsible for a fair few of Hadlee's, which owed to the pressure exerted by Chatfield.

Danny Morrison What he lacked in height Morrison made up for with his spirit. A round-arm action and a good natural outswinger made him a handful to deal with when he was at his best, but at the same time he was not the thriftiest.

Chris Martin The bald head, springy run-up with long steps, high leap before the stride, determination, and ineptness with the bat have made Martin a favourite with the New Zealand public. He has fought injuries, can bowl long spells without wavering in intensity, and has just gone past Morrison's mark of 160 wickets - and 24 ducks.

Shane Bond Before the script went wrong, first with injuries and then with the ICL, Bond and Martin held the promise of forming a Hadlee-Chatfield-like duo. Bond is one of the few genuinely fast modern men, and bowls with both hostility and smartness, but in a nine-year career has played only 17 Tests - for 79 wickets at an average of 22.39 and a strike-rate of 38.9

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 fast bowlers click here

Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • shafeen on October 8, 2009, 22:33 GMT

    I have to criticize the fragmentation of the selection options for this team. I would have liked Reid (a batting allrounder) at 6, and Bruce Taylor as one of the paceman. That way, we'd have 3 pacers (and Congdon, who could bowl a bit), and two spinners (Vettori and Reid) on the bowling side. On the batting side, 5 batsmen, Reid as the batting-allrounder plus a very strong lower order (Vettori, Hadlee, Smith, Taylor). Down to number 10, you have possible centurions. All that's moot because the way the selections were offered, you can't pick both Taylor and Reid. Crickinfo - you've improved this series a bit since it started - the choice of Bert Sutcliffe as middle order or opener shows this (as opposed to the England side, where one of Sutcliffe, Hobbs and Hutton had to sit out), but there's still room for improvement.

  • USMAN on October 8, 2009, 8:29 GMT

    I think Hadlee is the anonymous choice for this team, with Bond the other one, the third should be Jack Cowie

  • Jeremy on October 7, 2009, 23:04 GMT

    When in doubt, I've gone for stats, it's the only fair(ish) way to separate. Besides, the only place this team will play is on paper - so may as well make them look reasonable! JR Reid doesn't cut the mustard as pure batsmen, I would like him as my allrounder, but too much competition in this team. Donnelly and Cowie didn't play enough in my book - which may weaken the team... or may not... I guess we will never know. Hadlee, Bond and Taylor as the quicks. (Taylor should be considered as a bowler not an allrounder) McCullum is a hopeful selection. He may do well playing in this team...? I've put Vettori above him in the batting order in the time being. 1. G Turner 2. B Sutcliffe 3. A Jones 4. M Crowe 5. JF Reid 6. C Cairns 7. R Hadlee 8. D Vettori 9. B McCullum 10. B Taylor 11. S Bond.

  • A J on October 7, 2009, 21:09 GMT

    Hadlee was one of the world's greatest players ever, so my suggestion is just to pick players to complement him. Collinge was an excellent foil for him in the late '70s who troubled most batsmen, notably Geoffrey Boycott in NZs first win over England. Whilst several others are gutsy hard-working types, for me the other has to be Bond or Cowie who were both match winners. For his sheer pace, Bond has to be my third.

  • Matt on October 7, 2009, 5:22 GMT

    Hadlee and Bond. Im a big fan of Danny Morrison but no way, not even close.

  • Rakitha on October 7, 2009, 1:11 GMT

    Chris Martin has been under rated. I think him and Chatfield should open, followed by Sir Richard Hadlee first change

  • saif on October 7, 2009, 0:21 GMT

    Ok, the first two are automatic choices, Hadlee and Bond. But none of the rest really stand out. Most of the guys on the list average over 30 in test, for an all time eleven those are pretty sad figures, i don't think anyone in the England fast bowling shortlist averaged over 30. I can't say anything about Cowie, I haven't seen him bowl, who has? and do people really remember him that well from seeing him 50 years ago. But i will go by his stats and pick him, because the others are quite disappointing.

  • Aaron on October 6, 2009, 22:41 GMT

    I'd love to see the NZ XI play together because when most of these guys played test it was with the weight of the world on their shoulders. Unlike most world test sides our best players often had to carry the whole team. I remember watching Martin Crowe around the time he became captain, if he didn't get runs then you could be pretty sure the team would not do well. So imagine these guys playing with the freedom of being surrounded by quality players - especially the batsmen.

  • Ben on October 6, 2009, 21:43 GMT

    No doubt about Hadlee. But the other spot should go to Martin. New Zealand is all about work horses, those who can bowl long spells without tiring, and going cheaply, which is what Martin did. Also, if any of you have been to a cricket match in New Zealand, he is a fan favourite, especially when batting. It's a pity we don't have another really great bowler to compliment Hadlee though.

  • Abhay on October 6, 2009, 18:36 GMT

    Shane Bond - The fastest LEGITIMATE bowler of this era. Everyone else chucks. Even Lee's fastest ones are not kosher. Cowie Hadlee Chatfield - As NFL commentators would say - "On the outside looking in"

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