October 12, 2009

Small pool, big debate

David Leggat
There might not be big, glaring omissions, but there was enough argument to suggest enough top-quality talent in the country
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So no Ricky Ponting for Australia, no Herbert Sutcliffe among England's chosen ones.

Far smaller playing numbers mean liberties such as these are not available to those choosing New Zealand's finest Test XI, although there were several points of conjecture among the judging panel, and enough contestable selections to argue that New Zealand has produced its share of top-quality cricketers. Heads were certainly scratched among the panelists.

New Zealand cricket has long had an all-hands-to-the-pump philosophy, combined with a relish of pricking egos and tripping up those with expectations of an easy ride. That has enabled it to punch well above its weight, albeit after a trying start, for much of its Test life.

Of the 37 nominees, 23 gathered at least one vote; just three players got an unanimous verdict - Glenn Turner, Martin Crowe and Sir Richard Hadlee. The marvellous Bert Sutcliffe? Nine votes. So too for John R Reid, the most dominant figure in the New Zealand game for over a decade, and current captain Daniel Vettori.

The final XI comprises two players whose best work took place before the Second World War (Stewie Dempster and Jack Cowie), two from the present team (Vettori and Shane Bond), four from the 1980s - when New Zealand, unbeaten at home for 10 years, enjoyed a golden period with a collection of strong-willed characters (Turner, Crowe, Hadlee and Ian Smith), and four from the 1949 team that set high standards in squaring a four-Test series in England (Sutcliffe, Reid, Cowie and Martin Donnelly).

Turner's selection was easy. A hundred first-class centuries, a brace of them to steer New Zealand to their first Test win over Australia, 1000 runs before May in the 1973 season, all speak of his class. A man with a perfectionist's touch, combined with a remorselessness about his batting, this supreme technician reinvented himself as a free-scoring one-day batsman with an eye for innovation.

Those who saw Dempster bat are long gone, but there are occasions when numbers and legend can be persuasive bedfellows. Ten tests, a 65.72 average, New Zealand's first Test century-maker, and still part-owner of the country's third-highest partnership and the highest opening stand against England, 276 with Jack Mills in 1930. Oh yes, and a Wisden player of the year in 1932.

John Wright and Mark Richardson, doughty scrappers, and Sutcliffe all won support; Sutcliffe in two categories. His numbers were superior as an opener, but a place had to be found, and so it is at No. 3. At a time when Australians insisted Neil Harvey was the game's peerless left-hand batsman, there was, in a small nearby corner of the world, a core of folk who did, and still, forcefully disagree. Opportunities beckoned far less often for the golden-haired Sutcliffe. There is film of him batting, notably in the subcontinent in 1955-56, and it reveals classic strokes and quick feet.

Crowe strove for perfection, and at times got desperately close. His 188 against Australia in Brisbane was central to probably the country's finest all-round Test performance. At his best he had a dismissive quality at the crease and could make batting look easy.

New Zealand cricket has long had an all-hands-to-the-pump philosophy, combined with a relish of pricking egos and tripping up those with expectations of an easy ride. That has enabled it to punch well above its weight, albeit after a trying start, for much of its Test life

Donnelly spent most of his career in England, where he was a prolific player for Oxford University; scored what remains the only double-hundred for New Zealand at Lord's, in 1949, during a series he averaged 77 in; hit 162 for the Gentlemen against the Players; and was a Wisden Player of the Year in 1947, when he was lauded as the world's best left-hand batsman. Donnelly only played seven Tests, but as with Dempster his fame was achieved from afar.

Stephen Fleming, an elegant left-hand batsman and fine captain, and Andrew Jones, a hard-minded character who averaged 44.27, had their supporters.

New Zealand cricket has yet to produce a more forceful personality than Reid. There were times he carried the national side almost alone, capable of ferocity with the bat, an aggressive medium-pacer and a fine fielder. He would have eaten up the one-day game. Reid captained New Zealand to their first three Test wins, led the World XI against England, and in between was a colossus in South Africa in 1961-62. Chris Cairns and Bruce Taylor had their roles, but neither came close to the man who was New Zealand cricket for years.

Ian Smith was an overwhelming choice as wicketkeeper, part of the celebrated 1980s troupe. Adam Parore was a skilled successor, Brendon McCullum the boisterous man of the moment.

Vettori had a lock on the spinning spot, a player whose mild appearance disguises a steely determination. Which brings us to the most contentious selection. Who to partner Hadlee? Cowie and Bond it is.

Hadlee first. The tree-lined Hagley Oval in Christchurch, among the most scenic cricket spots in the country, had its usual half-dozen senior and second-grade club games in full swing on Saturday, November 9, 1985. Australia had started the second day of the Brisbane Test at 146 for 4, all to Hadlee. Someone shouted out, "He's got six". Shortly after, "He's got seven", and then "He's got eight!" Games ground to a halt as the transistors were turned up around the Oval. Enough said.

Bond provides the genuine speed and a fine average, alongside Cowie, nicknamed "Bull", a tough competitor who bowled with skill and heart, taking 45 wickets at 21.53 in his nine Tests. How good was he? "Had he been an Australian he might have been termed a wonder of the age," wrote Wisden editor Wilfred Brookes.

David Leggat is chief cricket writer and chief sports reporter of the New Zealand Herald

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • anant_gupta on October 14, 2009, 17:18 GMT

    So much discussion going on , and correctly so , to choose between Cairns and Reid. But why this fetish to choose one spinner at all cost ? Why can't Chris Cairns be chosen over Vettori? Yes this will make the team pace heavy but what is the probelm there? I bet any of India/Pakistan/Sri Lanka will fear Cairns more than Vettori, even on subcontinent wickets. And Cairns was a big match winner, he could turn any match on its head. I just hope they don't make as choose a spinner for West Indies forcing us to drop one better fast bowler

  • richie-r on October 14, 2009, 5:02 GMT

    bravo mican! may i just add that anyone who dismisses war-time champions such as dempster & donnelly, but includes fleming (who had 189 test batting opportunities but scored only nine centuries) is thinking just as lightly...

  • mican on October 13, 2009, 23:37 GMT

    This is funny. Despite playing all their tests against 2 of the best sides of their generation some here want to exclude some champions bcos they've played 10 tests or less. As if NZ's ltd test program, WWII and the embargo on selecting players who made a living in Eng is their fault. What they should've done was play 17 tests, breakdown most of the time and distort their figures plundering minnows like BD, Zim and the worst WI team of that association's otherwise proud history...like Shane Bond. Its risible. Look. If anyone here has a problem with Dempster, Donnelly and Cowie but give Bond a tick then you're not thinking too hard are you.

  • aglubb002 on October 13, 2009, 20:06 GMT

    kpisthebest et al, I love watching Shane Bond and he would be in my NZ all-time ODI side, but he has never shown brilliance at test level. If you take out the minnows, his average is mediocre at best. You are picking him on potential or that he troubled a few players. Shane O'Connor also troubled Steve Waugh and actually yorked him. Lara and Tendulkar have been troubled by many a bowler, particularly Lara late in his career being susceptible early on. That is not to say they are not greats, simply that every batsmen has good runs of form and bad, has great innings and makes mistakes every now and then. How can you automatically conclude that Bond is the no 2 bowler without even comparing him to Cowie? Aren't you biased having watched one and not the other??

    Dempter and Donnelly were rated world class at their time. Wright and Fleming were solid players but never rated with the world's best. Comparisons to Sinclair are illogical. Sinclair always looked unsound.

  • bradluen on October 13, 2009, 19:23 GMT

    McCullum vs Smith one more time: McCullum's average is 31.70, Smith's is 25.56. Fine, McCullum's big scores were on flat tracks or against weak opposition. Take out his three centuries and he averages 27.73: still more than Smith (or Parore, or Wadsworth). And Smith's average is inflated by his 173. Behind the stumps, Smith made fewer mistakes but McCullum seems to have better range (as they say in baseball): McCullum has a higher dismissals per innings rate despite not having Hadlee around. More concretely, McCullum is comfortable standing up to the stumps for the likes of Kyle Mills, while as far as I remember (it's been a while, so correct me if I'm wrong), Smith didn't stand up to Chatfield. Parore has an argument, since he had range and consistency, but I'll take the runs on the board from McCullum.

  • FIASNAHK on October 13, 2009, 18:50 GMT

    Oh one more thing, this teams biggest weakness is its spin bowling. If you look at every other team, there are fantastic spinners who have the stats to prove their greatness. Guys, vettori has always had a major problem with picking up wickets, his average has ballooned over the few years and apart from bangladesh and zimbabwe, his stats are horrible. He's not that great, but sadly he has to be on the team because there hasn't been anyone better.

  • FIASNAHK on October 13, 2009, 18:44 GMT

    Guys, McCullum is NOT that good a batsmen. He is technically flawed and always gets out to rash shots. In 46 tests, he averages 31, take out his hundreds against bangladesh and zimbabwe and he will average much less. Ian smith was much better with the gloves and the strength of this lineup is its batting as its basically got three allrounders in it. McCullum never faced bowlers in the nineties like the two W's, Donald, Ambrose, let alone the greats from england from the 1940's. Also im getting the feeling that the selection panel of these lists are bias towards the good old days. Guys, andrew jones should have walked into this team, but donnelly got the nod. Has anyone actually seen him play over 70 years ago? all we have to rate him is his stats and comments from old journals.

  • peterhrt on October 13, 2009, 9:09 GMT

    Reid and Vettori appear to have received more support from the judges than they deserve. Reid averaged 25 with the bat in home Tests and 24 in England. He never faced Australia. In all Tests he took fewer than one and a half wickets per match. These are not the figures of a top specialist batsman or genuine international all-rounder. Vettori's wickets cost 54 runs apiece against India, 63 against South Africa and 100 against Pakistan. Three teams who won't mind facing him. An appealing alternative slow bowling option who didn't make the shortlist is long-forgotten off-spinner Alec Downes from Otago. Between 1888 and 1914 he took 311 first-class wickets at 14 apiece in only 51 games. That's over six wickets per match, a very rare achievement by a bowler from any country. One thing statistics don't reveal is that New Zealand's All-Time team will be among the finest fielding units.

  • kpisthebest on October 13, 2009, 7:10 GMT

    Aglubb 002,

    I saw that series between Aus and NZ when Bond averaged 96. It has been Bond's first and only test series and Aus.

    So he has played in only 3 tests against Aus.

    He bowled quick in that series but lacked experience still he troubled a certain Steve Waugh at Hobart with extreme pace and showed that he has huge potential.

    He has also troubled players like Lara and Tendulkar and that is not bad!

    17 tests are enough for me to say that Bond is NZ'S second best bowler behind Hadlee.

    Anyone who could swing it at good pace and still has good enough control like Shane Bond is very good indeed!

  • Supratik on October 13, 2009, 5:15 GMT

    I have been following the debate on the NZXI with amusement. I am not a Kiwi so if I may throw in my dispassionate comments on the list. Its strange that an all time XI consists of 3 players who played 10 tests or less. No other all time XI will consist of that, except for Barry Richards in SA XI. Then there is an incredible debate on Cairns vs Reid and Smith vs McCullum. Having seen the latter two, there is no doubt that Smith was the better keeper and had a bull-dog spirit as a batsman, ODIs McCullum, maybe. Between Reid and Cairns I guess Reid was the father figure of NZ cricket in the 50s so its only fair to include him. Stats is not the only criteria. But 2 batsmen with 10 & 9 tests and 2 & 1 tons respectively? I see that no one is debating on Bevan Congdon a 60s-70s stalwart. Dempster & Donnelly may have been very talented/flamboyant as batsmen, but to ignore Congdon is a tad unfair. The list only goes to show that NZ has been a mediocre team through out.

  • anant_gupta on October 14, 2009, 17:18 GMT

    So much discussion going on , and correctly so , to choose between Cairns and Reid. But why this fetish to choose one spinner at all cost ? Why can't Chris Cairns be chosen over Vettori? Yes this will make the team pace heavy but what is the probelm there? I bet any of India/Pakistan/Sri Lanka will fear Cairns more than Vettori, even on subcontinent wickets. And Cairns was a big match winner, he could turn any match on its head. I just hope they don't make as choose a spinner for West Indies forcing us to drop one better fast bowler

  • richie-r on October 14, 2009, 5:02 GMT

    bravo mican! may i just add that anyone who dismisses war-time champions such as dempster & donnelly, but includes fleming (who had 189 test batting opportunities but scored only nine centuries) is thinking just as lightly...

  • mican on October 13, 2009, 23:37 GMT

    This is funny. Despite playing all their tests against 2 of the best sides of their generation some here want to exclude some champions bcos they've played 10 tests or less. As if NZ's ltd test program, WWII and the embargo on selecting players who made a living in Eng is their fault. What they should've done was play 17 tests, breakdown most of the time and distort their figures plundering minnows like BD, Zim and the worst WI team of that association's otherwise proud history...like Shane Bond. Its risible. Look. If anyone here has a problem with Dempster, Donnelly and Cowie but give Bond a tick then you're not thinking too hard are you.

  • aglubb002 on October 13, 2009, 20:06 GMT

    kpisthebest et al, I love watching Shane Bond and he would be in my NZ all-time ODI side, but he has never shown brilliance at test level. If you take out the minnows, his average is mediocre at best. You are picking him on potential or that he troubled a few players. Shane O'Connor also troubled Steve Waugh and actually yorked him. Lara and Tendulkar have been troubled by many a bowler, particularly Lara late in his career being susceptible early on. That is not to say they are not greats, simply that every batsmen has good runs of form and bad, has great innings and makes mistakes every now and then. How can you automatically conclude that Bond is the no 2 bowler without even comparing him to Cowie? Aren't you biased having watched one and not the other??

    Dempter and Donnelly were rated world class at their time. Wright and Fleming were solid players but never rated with the world's best. Comparisons to Sinclair are illogical. Sinclair always looked unsound.

  • bradluen on October 13, 2009, 19:23 GMT

    McCullum vs Smith one more time: McCullum's average is 31.70, Smith's is 25.56. Fine, McCullum's big scores were on flat tracks or against weak opposition. Take out his three centuries and he averages 27.73: still more than Smith (or Parore, or Wadsworth). And Smith's average is inflated by his 173. Behind the stumps, Smith made fewer mistakes but McCullum seems to have better range (as they say in baseball): McCullum has a higher dismissals per innings rate despite not having Hadlee around. More concretely, McCullum is comfortable standing up to the stumps for the likes of Kyle Mills, while as far as I remember (it's been a while, so correct me if I'm wrong), Smith didn't stand up to Chatfield. Parore has an argument, since he had range and consistency, but I'll take the runs on the board from McCullum.

  • FIASNAHK on October 13, 2009, 18:50 GMT

    Oh one more thing, this teams biggest weakness is its spin bowling. If you look at every other team, there are fantastic spinners who have the stats to prove their greatness. Guys, vettori has always had a major problem with picking up wickets, his average has ballooned over the few years and apart from bangladesh and zimbabwe, his stats are horrible. He's not that great, but sadly he has to be on the team because there hasn't been anyone better.

  • FIASNAHK on October 13, 2009, 18:44 GMT

    Guys, McCullum is NOT that good a batsmen. He is technically flawed and always gets out to rash shots. In 46 tests, he averages 31, take out his hundreds against bangladesh and zimbabwe and he will average much less. Ian smith was much better with the gloves and the strength of this lineup is its batting as its basically got three allrounders in it. McCullum never faced bowlers in the nineties like the two W's, Donald, Ambrose, let alone the greats from england from the 1940's. Also im getting the feeling that the selection panel of these lists are bias towards the good old days. Guys, andrew jones should have walked into this team, but donnelly got the nod. Has anyone actually seen him play over 70 years ago? all we have to rate him is his stats and comments from old journals.

  • peterhrt on October 13, 2009, 9:09 GMT

    Reid and Vettori appear to have received more support from the judges than they deserve. Reid averaged 25 with the bat in home Tests and 24 in England. He never faced Australia. In all Tests he took fewer than one and a half wickets per match. These are not the figures of a top specialist batsman or genuine international all-rounder. Vettori's wickets cost 54 runs apiece against India, 63 against South Africa and 100 against Pakistan. Three teams who won't mind facing him. An appealing alternative slow bowling option who didn't make the shortlist is long-forgotten off-spinner Alec Downes from Otago. Between 1888 and 1914 he took 311 first-class wickets at 14 apiece in only 51 games. That's over six wickets per match, a very rare achievement by a bowler from any country. One thing statistics don't reveal is that New Zealand's All-Time team will be among the finest fielding units.

  • kpisthebest on October 13, 2009, 7:10 GMT

    Aglubb 002,

    I saw that series between Aus and NZ when Bond averaged 96. It has been Bond's first and only test series and Aus.

    So he has played in only 3 tests against Aus.

    He bowled quick in that series but lacked experience still he troubled a certain Steve Waugh at Hobart with extreme pace and showed that he has huge potential.

    He has also troubled players like Lara and Tendulkar and that is not bad!

    17 tests are enough for me to say that Bond is NZ'S second best bowler behind Hadlee.

    Anyone who could swing it at good pace and still has good enough control like Shane Bond is very good indeed!

  • Supratik on October 13, 2009, 5:15 GMT

    I have been following the debate on the NZXI with amusement. I am not a Kiwi so if I may throw in my dispassionate comments on the list. Its strange that an all time XI consists of 3 players who played 10 tests or less. No other all time XI will consist of that, except for Barry Richards in SA XI. Then there is an incredible debate on Cairns vs Reid and Smith vs McCullum. Having seen the latter two, there is no doubt that Smith was the better keeper and had a bull-dog spirit as a batsman, ODIs McCullum, maybe. Between Reid and Cairns I guess Reid was the father figure of NZ cricket in the 50s so its only fair to include him. Stats is not the only criteria. But 2 batsmen with 10 & 9 tests and 2 & 1 tons respectively? I see that no one is debating on Bevan Congdon a 60s-70s stalwart. Dempster & Donnelly may have been very talented/flamboyant as batsmen, but to ignore Congdon is a tad unfair. The list only goes to show that NZ has been a mediocre team through out.

  • mican on October 13, 2009, 4:36 GMT

    Hey Mark Ling. Why the bias against players from the 40s? You'd agree that modern athletes are better now than those in the 80 right? I mean they do better times now right? So why not just pick the current NZ team as the best of all time? I mean if your logic is consistent then cricket has improved since the 80s so there shouldn't be a place for Hadlee or Crowe should there?

    Or maybe you need to re think? What do you reckon?

  • inverking on October 13, 2009, 2:34 GMT

    Good team. Its hard to to compare Reid and Cairns. I grew up reading stories about Reid but saw Cairns in the flesh. Both were mighty players, although if you consider they are competing for batting at 6 in this team as batting allrounders, you would have to rate Reid as a better batsmen. Cairns was explosive though and no doubt the better bowler of the two. Pity they can't both be in the team, maybe at the expense of Donnelly. Just out of interest, if Grimmett (New Zealand born and raised, didn't leave to go to Aussie until his twenties) was available for this team, do you think he would have made it instead of Vettori??

  • amdtelrunya on October 12, 2009, 23:49 GMT

    The format is all wrong. Should have been 5 batsmen, 3 ARs (including Hadlee/Vettori, KP and 2 bowlers. Vettori should have been up against other players, not just spinners. You can bark all day about Cairns v Reid, but their records and reputations are pretty similar. Smith has to be just before Parore, and McCullum 3rd choice. McCullum's batting record doesn't stack up, his 3 hundreds have come against Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and on a road against India! I struggle to pick Dempster and especially Donelley in this team, and would have Richardson/Wright and Fleming instead. Its a test 11 and surely they have to play more than 12 or 15 innings each. Matthew Sinclair had a similar FC record yet he is nowhere near this team, and rightly so. Maybe Sinclair should have retired at the end of March 2001: 13 tests, 23 innings, 973 runs @ 51.2 with 3 hundreds. Pretty similar to Donelley I think. The selection is far too nostalgic.

  • cloudmess on October 12, 2009, 23:25 GMT

    Why must there always be a kind of collective madness that descends over a committe when they choose an all time XI? Is it a strange form of attention seeking to go completely in the face of common sense? It's a bit like when the English media went into a frenzy this summer, insisting that England should recall the 39-year-old 'great' Mark Ramprakash. How does Ian Smith get in before McCullum? He is 'generally thought' to have been a better keeper, but with a much lower batting average? How can you leave out a man whose test figures are proportionally comparable with Ian Botham? John R Reid better than Chris Cairns? How about Dion Nash in for Richard Hadlee then? He could bat a bit too, and once took 11 wkts at Lord's. On that basis, he was actually better than Hadlee etc etc

  • bradluen on October 12, 2009, 22:22 GMT

    I did see Smith play (albeit in one of the most boring Tests ever, vs Pakistan at Eden Park in 1988-89). I love the guy, still have his autograph somewhere, but can't really agree with his inclusion. In my estimation, Parore was a slightly better gloveman and a slightly better bat, while McCullum is an equally good gloveman and a much better bat. That's the only selection I disagree with (though I insist that Sutcliffe should open while Dempster bats at 3 or 4). Cairns is one of NZ's eleven best-ever players but I couldn't fit him in my team. If he comes in six, the batting lineup looks very thin up against a McGrath-Lillee-Miller-O'Reilly-Warne attack. If he comes in lower he has to displace a classier bowler (Cowie, Bond) or else we play without a specialist spinner. He'd be in my squad and I'd give him a few games ahead of Vettori, but not the majority. Weakness of the team is the middle order, hopefully Jesse Ryder keeps up his great start and doesn't go the way of Andrew Symonds.

  • aglubb002 on October 12, 2009, 22:14 GMT

    I went for the same team except with Reid at 7 ahead of Bond. Cairns and Reid were both world class allrounders in their eras. Cairns a matchwinner. NZ's test team hasn't been the same since he retired and the stats show this. Reid beats Bond since Hadlee and Cowie take the new ball. Reid and Cairns back up. NZ's team is traditionally strong with allrounders and I have played on this theme. Big mistake is rating Bond who has fewer than 20 tests and has enjoyed Zim & Bangers which has skewed his average. His average against Australia in tests is 96 so Cleaver or whoever is plain wrong, his Aus success has only come in ODI's.

    Can be no genuine argument between Smith and McCullum. Smith's record against tougher opposition and his grit show who you can rely on. I would have Parore in my second team anyway and in this team before McCullum. McCullum is not quite there nor is likely to get there in the future. ODI's different story of course.

  • Mr_Pazario on October 12, 2009, 21:54 GMT

    McCullum a better tactician? Is that why the Kolkata Knight Riders did so well? With this line up you don't need to worry about the keeper being a good bat - Ian Smith is therefore the obvious choice. Does anyone know how many of McCullums dismissals are against the minnows? Remember that Smith wouldn't have played against those teams. Same applies to the Reid-Carins debate. The modern cricketers have the luxury of improving averges against the games lesser powers. Those who played for NZ in years past often found themselves taking the field as the obvious underdog. We should be quite happy with this list. All we need to do now is work on cloning a few of them.

  • DHHC on October 12, 2009, 21:49 GMT

    The only problem with including players who played very little test cricket is the inability to judge whether they could perform over a period of time. Would Dempster still had such a towering average after say, 30 tests? Or would he have gone into remission like, say, Mark Greatbach. We can't know this. Should we be able to choose players who had great records after 7 test matches based on those performances alone, ignoring their plummet into the mire? No. Not on your Nelly. It's a tricky one, this selection job. Personally, i don't believe 7 tests is enough.

  • themandible on October 12, 2009, 21:05 GMT

    1. Turner, 2. Dempster, 3. Crowe (c), 4. Sutcliffe, 5. Reid (vc), 6. Cairns, 7. Vettori, 8. Hadlee, 9. IDS Smith (wk), 10. Bond, 11. Cowie.

    Enough said. Reid was good enough to be picked as a bat, so why not have the best of both worlds and pick him and Cairns! This team would be near unbeatable outside of the subcontinent and with crowe as the captain one of NZ's most gifted tacticians at the helm - pity there is no room for Flem but his numbers don't stack up.

  • pardo on October 12, 2009, 20:21 GMT

    The first question has to be which numpty on the experts panel didn't vote for Vettori? Dan should have got ten votes unless we can include Grimmett - born and raised in NZ but retired before NZ got test status. I think the team is spot on with the only doubt being Reid/Cairns. Smith was a marvellous keeper and his 173 against India was an awesome knock. Just because Donnelly, Dempster and Bond only played a few tests shouldn't count against them - all of them would have played more if NZ's lack of tests, the war or the IPL not got in the way (Dempster played in all but one of NZ's tests played before he was 34). My only gripe is Reid over Cairns - Cairns could be a prat, he got injured easily and Reid was playing in a team with little other talent - but Reid's batting average is lower than his bowling average - surely the first test for an all-rounder? The argument that Reid offers a spin option might hold water but surprised he got 9 votes and I'd have still gone with Cairns.

  • Grizmeister on October 12, 2009, 20:05 GMT

    More for Mark Ling. If those "has-been club cricketers" had the coaching and facilities that they get nowadays (that you quote), you would be able to compare because they would be better. It's about the fact that the none of the categories had that help.Man v man, team v team applies regardless of era. As per a few other comments, it's about the best regardless of generation. Cairns and Fleming omissions does seem odd, though. Bond's inclusion also suspect.

  • glovescarf on October 12, 2009, 19:43 GMT

    From a selectorial point of view, the omission of Chris Cairns in favour of John R Reid is at best mystifying and at worst completely non sensical. Batting wise their records are almost identical with probably Reid just about able to be considered the superior in this field. However to chose Reid with 85 wickets in 58 Tests ahead of Cairns 218 wickets in 62 Tests is bizarre and inexcusable because it's so patently obvious that Cairns would be the better selection, a match winner with both bat and ball.

    A number of the selections also appear to have been based on assumption i.e. Dempster 10 Tests, Donnelly 7 Tests, Cowie 9 Tests. No doubting that they were all very fine players but seems slightly presumptuous to select them ahead of the likes of Wright, Fleming etc who played for a much longer period of time.

  • Maui3 on October 12, 2009, 16:59 GMT

    The so called experts picked a NZ XI without Chris Cairns? Pleeeeaaaassssseeeee! Maybe he's just a victim of the format chosen to pick players. Even ignoring his record (which is phenomenal for an allrounder and better than Kapil Dev or Flintoff or about same as Botham), there are some player you watch because they can create magic out of nowhere. Players like Cairns, Kapil Dev, R. Hadlee, Botham, Imran Khan, Flintoff (and now Mitchell Johnson is getting there) can explode anytime and will win you games single-handedly at any stage of the game and there is always a sense of excitement around them. There may be better allrounders (although very few better than Cairns, even going by stats) like S. Pollack or Kallis, but they dont grip your attention and dont turn the game around like Cairns and other did. You absolutely need Cairns in a otherwise very weak NZ world XI.

  • Karamat23 on October 12, 2009, 16:53 GMT

    There seems to be having a lot of fan club for McCullum these days but who have seen Ian Smith would not disagree with the choice as he was so agile behind the stumps and a keeper in the real sense, someone you would say born with wicketkeeping talents as in pakistan we had Wasim Akram.

  • kuroneko on October 12, 2009, 15:56 GMT

    ll you McCullum and Chris Cairns supporters: just because you can't remember/ didn't see JR Reid and Ian Smith, doesn't mean they're better players. This team is spot on. Reid over Cairns is close, but correct, Smith over McCullum is a no brainer. Having Baz in an all-time NZ XI would be an absolute joke.

  • waspsting on October 12, 2009, 14:54 GMT

    Solid team. I would have liked to have had Bev Congdon - who i've always ranked very highly over Dempster, with Sutcliffe opening, and Bruce Taylor as a third paceman along with Hadlee and Cowie because he strenghtened the batting some more. Can't complain though. Bond, though he hasn't played a lot, might be the NZ bowler after Hadlee - his record is fabulous. Dempster I only know through reputation, and its a fine one, just like Donnelly. Re: to various comments - Reid was probably a better batsmen than Cairns, and he makes for a second spinner, whereas Cairns would have made for a fourth pace bowler. The second spinning option probably adds more to the team. Hard to pick a keeper, difference in keeping quality is hard to judge if you've seen them and well-nigh impossible if you haven't. Have to go on reputation here, largely. Smith is generally thought to be NZ's finest keeper, and he's a handy bat. McCullum better bat, don't know about his keeping though. Good team, solid team.

  • zoraster on October 12, 2009, 12:31 GMT

    Mark Ling; I couldn't disagree more. Modern players are largely inept imo. Batsman fall apart when the ball does anything at all, and few can cope with anything but a road. Stick them on uncovered pitches you'd get T20 test cricket :) Bowlers on the other hand seem to have lost the art of taking wickets, beyond keeping it tight and waiting for a mistake. These days the mass of limited overs cricket seems to have destroyed the art of batting, and taught bowlers that wickets will be gifted.

  • kiwi_fan7035 on October 12, 2009, 12:22 GMT

    chris cairns is surely one of the first picked - from his prime - 99 england tour on he averaged 43 with the bat and 26 with the ball. outrageous figures he was a star and was flem's go to man. outrageous. mind you dan is 40 and 28 ish in the last 5 years also on fire. but at the end of the day the selectors can only compare them with how they were viewed in history. e.g. even though none of us have seen cowie we have to accept his selction as a given due to fact he dismissed every legend of the game in his era cheaply - some of the things u read about the guy are ridiculous. and reid made new zealand cricket so its difficult not to pick him too. gloveman was the toughest selection though could of been any of the 4 recent chaps

  • 69denise on October 12, 2009, 10:45 GMT

    I agree with all the selections bar Dempster. I'm sure he was great, but Fleming would get the nod for me, his solid batting and brilliant slip catching combined with his captaincy ability make him a shoe-in (in my opinion). Fleming obvious captain choice for me by the way, with Dan as Vice captain.

  • TFJ100 on October 12, 2009, 10:23 GMT

    One interesting thing is that several of the NZ team had quite contrasting periods of success and averageness in their careers, maybe moreso than the competition from other countries. Can we choose which part of their career we get?

    If so I'll have Crowe from 1985-1991 (ave 61), Cairns from 1999-2004 (bat 45, bowl 25) and Hadlee from 1980-1988 (bat 32, bowl 19). You could even make a case for John R Reid if you choose 1961-1965 (bat 49, bowl 25).

    If you want to take the Cairns v Reid debate, you could say from the above that at their peak, they both performed similarly, but Cairns was at his peak for 5 years, Reid only just over 3.

    And to carry out the same review of Smith v McCullum, Smith averages 30 from 1984-1990 (2.8 dismissals per test) compared to McCullum career of 32 & 3.2 dismissals per test. If you take McCullum's first 2 years, you get a batting ave of 36 but only 2.5 dismissals - 2nd half is batting 29 but dismissals improve to 3.65.

    Smith wins for longevity.

  • SyedArbabAhmed on October 12, 2009, 10:09 GMT

    I don't know "Mr. David Leggat" & the writers of team pick, why not in the end write down the full chosed team in the order they have picked the team and why don't they write the Captain, Vice Captain, Keeper in the end of their respective names as we see in the start of every match.

  • ZA77 on October 12, 2009, 9:46 GMT

    They really did very well with very tough competition between different players. I have selected by my own the following team of them. Turner and Sutcliff as an opener, AH Jones at no. 3, at no. 4 Martin Crowe, at no. 5 Fleming (captain), then Carins, Hadlee, Vettori, Smith (wicket keeper) at no. 9, Bruce Taylor at no. 10 and at no. 11 Shane Bond. Richardson can also qualify as opener but if there is only one choice then I selected Sutcliff.

    Hadlee is the best bowler of them, Vettori proved himself as an all-rounder. Carins is also an excellent allrounder. I think Cairns is better than Reid as he is unable to complete 100 wickets in test although he proved him as a batsman with 3428 runs. I think Smith as a keeper is the best choice among all. Fleming is the most successful captain with more than 7172 runs in test with batting average 40.09. In my opinion this is the dream team of New Zealand

  • BloodbathAndBeyond on October 12, 2009, 9:16 GMT

    I dont like the idea of stickin to a particular format (in this case 5 batsmen, 1 all rounder, 1 wicketkeeper and 4 bowlers) for every country. Each country has its own strengh and weakness and the lineup should be thebest palying combo without sticking to any definite format. Multi dimensional cricketers have always been a feature of New Zealand cricket and an ideal lineup should have included both Cairns and Reid at the expense of a specialist batsman considering that there will be 4 players down the order who are reasonable batsmen - Cairns, Reid, Vettori, Hadlee. Similarly since India/Sri lanka never produced many great bowlers, it would be better to stick to 6 + 1 + 4 combination for them. Imagine omitting one or two from Azhar, Dravid, Sachin, Ganguly, VVS so that you can include a mediocre bowler like Zaheer (since Cricinfo will stick to 4 bowler + 1 all rounder combo)

  • PrakashKDhungana on October 12, 2009, 8:56 GMT

    Good selection of team but CHRIS CAIRNS is missing for no reason. He showed the character and had ability to drive the contest.

  • MarkLing on October 12, 2009, 8:48 GMT

    Cairns's ommission is rediculous. He would have been the world's best batter AND bowler if you put him back in the 40s like Reid and co. McCullum is a better keeper and batter than Smith, but Smith certainly was world class in his last half of his career.

    I'm not sure how you can pick Dempster who had only played 10 test matches AND those tests were back in the days when cricketers were part time, had another job on the side AND there was a lot less facilities involved (coaching, etc) that could help players improve their game.

    I personally think if you put any player from the 1890s to 1960s in a time machine and got them to play today, they'd be in trouble. I've seen the footage on tv, techniques of players (bradman and few others aside) and they very much resemble top level club cricketers nowadays.

    Fleming and Wright or Richardson for Donnelly and Dempster, Doull for Cowie (or Morrisson when at absolute best). Cairns for Reid. May sound a touch thin but it's the best we have

  • MaraudingJ on October 12, 2009, 8:43 GMT

    I didn't think it possible, but I actually believe this team is spot on. I know people are going to be up in arms about the exclusion of McCullum and Cairns, but even those choices were correct. McCullum, I believe, will one day eclipse Smith as NZ's premier gloveman, but he still has a bit left to prove. As for Cairns, while he was perhaps the most talented all-rounder of his time (this, coming from a South African as it is, is very high praise!), he was stunted by injury and occasional arrogance. Like it or not, Reid basically BUILT NZ cricket. Were it not for Reid, whose accomplishments on the field alone qualified him for this XI, a talent like Cairns would've been lost to another sport, as often happens in NZ. Few figures in international cricket have so single-handedly lent an air of legitimacy to their sport, forcing the game into a spotlight it may never have received otherwise. To leave him out would've been a travesty.

  • Jazpink on October 12, 2009, 8:40 GMT

    All in all a pretty fair team. However, it has to be said there is a bias toward nostalgia. Stewie Dempster averaged 65 but from only 10 tests. Is that better than Matthew Sinclair's or Jesse Ryder's starts in test cricket? 10 tests is not enough to show true class. John Reid was no doubt a class cricketer - but Cairns was a true match winner. Cairns' heroics during the 1999 tour of England, and performances versus the West Indies and Australia the following season were unreal. He had a few seasons there of being absolutley world class. Unfortunately, in this modern age, he is just as well known for his personality clashes with Turner, and off the field antics in his early days. Perhaps it was this that cost him his spot?

  • hadleeisgod on October 12, 2009, 8:03 GMT

    I'm stoked that 8 of my selections matched the panel's. I went for Flem over Donnelly (who was well before my time) not just for his batting but also for his top-drawer ability at 1st slip. Had Parore behind the sticks as I thought he was the best gloveman (never saw Wadsworth), but if the task was to pick an XI of your favourite players, Stockley would have been near the top of my list. The one selection I'm really scratching my head about is Bond (I had Chats as the ideal 3rd seamer to support Hadlee and Cowie).Granted, Bond has a terrific Test record and is a world-class player but in terms of susceptibility to injury, he's in the Oram/Cairns class. Why pick a guy who is almost certain to be crocked during a Test series?

  • Cairnzee on October 12, 2009, 7:01 GMT

    I agree with the eleven except for two positions. The first the inclusion of Smith instead of McCullum. McCullum is a much better batsman and a far better tactican. I also disagree with having John Reid instead of Chris Cairns. Cairns won matches for NZ and was a player who could open the bowling and bat as a top order batsman. Like McCullum, he was also a great thinker of the game.

  • mikeindex on October 12, 2009, 6:45 GMT

    I'd have liked to see less in the article about the selcted players' skills and records - info which is already available on site - and more about the specific reasons for preferrring one player to another (e.g. Reid over Chris Cairns, which I found a really tough one).

    I predict that nine of your picks will be pretty uncontroversial and that you will cop a lot of flak for leaving out Cairns, and quite a bit over McCullum. (Am I the only person who thinks Wadsworth was a better keeper than him or Smith?)

  • Grimmett_C_V on October 12, 2009, 6:02 GMT

    The panel did very well, with some tough choices. I voted for every one of these (and a number of mates followed suit), EXCEPT McCullum is a better keeper than Smith ever was. Perhaps given time, the panel will have to re-visit the McCullum decision. His dismissal of Dravid earlier this year (for it was he who engineered this, not Vettori) was truly amazing. The rock had settled in and none of the bowlers could figure out what to do. McCullum is the victim of his own success. The current debate about his position in the ODI team is irrelevant when you consider the figures. His test record in both disciplines is the best of any of them. Perhaps if Parore's batting had lived up to the great promise he showed early on, he would have been the automatic choice, but glovework has to count at the end of the day.

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  • Grimmett_C_V on October 12, 2009, 6:02 GMT

    The panel did very well, with some tough choices. I voted for every one of these (and a number of mates followed suit), EXCEPT McCullum is a better keeper than Smith ever was. Perhaps given time, the panel will have to re-visit the McCullum decision. His dismissal of Dravid earlier this year (for it was he who engineered this, not Vettori) was truly amazing. The rock had settled in and none of the bowlers could figure out what to do. McCullum is the victim of his own success. The current debate about his position in the ODI team is irrelevant when you consider the figures. His test record in both disciplines is the best of any of them. Perhaps if Parore's batting had lived up to the great promise he showed early on, he would have been the automatic choice, but glovework has to count at the end of the day.

  • mikeindex on October 12, 2009, 6:45 GMT

    I'd have liked to see less in the article about the selcted players' skills and records - info which is already available on site - and more about the specific reasons for preferrring one player to another (e.g. Reid over Chris Cairns, which I found a really tough one).

    I predict that nine of your picks will be pretty uncontroversial and that you will cop a lot of flak for leaving out Cairns, and quite a bit over McCullum. (Am I the only person who thinks Wadsworth was a better keeper than him or Smith?)

  • Cairnzee on October 12, 2009, 7:01 GMT

    I agree with the eleven except for two positions. The first the inclusion of Smith instead of McCullum. McCullum is a much better batsman and a far better tactican. I also disagree with having John Reid instead of Chris Cairns. Cairns won matches for NZ and was a player who could open the bowling and bat as a top order batsman. Like McCullum, he was also a great thinker of the game.

  • hadleeisgod on October 12, 2009, 8:03 GMT

    I'm stoked that 8 of my selections matched the panel's. I went for Flem over Donnelly (who was well before my time) not just for his batting but also for his top-drawer ability at 1st slip. Had Parore behind the sticks as I thought he was the best gloveman (never saw Wadsworth), but if the task was to pick an XI of your favourite players, Stockley would have been near the top of my list. The one selection I'm really scratching my head about is Bond (I had Chats as the ideal 3rd seamer to support Hadlee and Cowie).Granted, Bond has a terrific Test record and is a world-class player but in terms of susceptibility to injury, he's in the Oram/Cairns class. Why pick a guy who is almost certain to be crocked during a Test series?

  • Jazpink on October 12, 2009, 8:40 GMT

    All in all a pretty fair team. However, it has to be said there is a bias toward nostalgia. Stewie Dempster averaged 65 but from only 10 tests. Is that better than Matthew Sinclair's or Jesse Ryder's starts in test cricket? 10 tests is not enough to show true class. John Reid was no doubt a class cricketer - but Cairns was a true match winner. Cairns' heroics during the 1999 tour of England, and performances versus the West Indies and Australia the following season were unreal. He had a few seasons there of being absolutley world class. Unfortunately, in this modern age, he is just as well known for his personality clashes with Turner, and off the field antics in his early days. Perhaps it was this that cost him his spot?

  • MaraudingJ on October 12, 2009, 8:43 GMT

    I didn't think it possible, but I actually believe this team is spot on. I know people are going to be up in arms about the exclusion of McCullum and Cairns, but even those choices were correct. McCullum, I believe, will one day eclipse Smith as NZ's premier gloveman, but he still has a bit left to prove. As for Cairns, while he was perhaps the most talented all-rounder of his time (this, coming from a South African as it is, is very high praise!), he was stunted by injury and occasional arrogance. Like it or not, Reid basically BUILT NZ cricket. Were it not for Reid, whose accomplishments on the field alone qualified him for this XI, a talent like Cairns would've been lost to another sport, as often happens in NZ. Few figures in international cricket have so single-handedly lent an air of legitimacy to their sport, forcing the game into a spotlight it may never have received otherwise. To leave him out would've been a travesty.

  • MarkLing on October 12, 2009, 8:48 GMT

    Cairns's ommission is rediculous. He would have been the world's best batter AND bowler if you put him back in the 40s like Reid and co. McCullum is a better keeper and batter than Smith, but Smith certainly was world class in his last half of his career.

    I'm not sure how you can pick Dempster who had only played 10 test matches AND those tests were back in the days when cricketers were part time, had another job on the side AND there was a lot less facilities involved (coaching, etc) that could help players improve their game.

    I personally think if you put any player from the 1890s to 1960s in a time machine and got them to play today, they'd be in trouble. I've seen the footage on tv, techniques of players (bradman and few others aside) and they very much resemble top level club cricketers nowadays.

    Fleming and Wright or Richardson for Donnelly and Dempster, Doull for Cowie (or Morrisson when at absolute best). Cairns for Reid. May sound a touch thin but it's the best we have

  • PrakashKDhungana on October 12, 2009, 8:56 GMT

    Good selection of team but CHRIS CAIRNS is missing for no reason. He showed the character and had ability to drive the contest.

  • BloodbathAndBeyond on October 12, 2009, 9:16 GMT

    I dont like the idea of stickin to a particular format (in this case 5 batsmen, 1 all rounder, 1 wicketkeeper and 4 bowlers) for every country. Each country has its own strengh and weakness and the lineup should be thebest palying combo without sticking to any definite format. Multi dimensional cricketers have always been a feature of New Zealand cricket and an ideal lineup should have included both Cairns and Reid at the expense of a specialist batsman considering that there will be 4 players down the order who are reasonable batsmen - Cairns, Reid, Vettori, Hadlee. Similarly since India/Sri lanka never produced many great bowlers, it would be better to stick to 6 + 1 + 4 combination for them. Imagine omitting one or two from Azhar, Dravid, Sachin, Ganguly, VVS so that you can include a mediocre bowler like Zaheer (since Cricinfo will stick to 4 bowler + 1 all rounder combo)

  • ZA77 on October 12, 2009, 9:46 GMT

    They really did very well with very tough competition between different players. I have selected by my own the following team of them. Turner and Sutcliff as an opener, AH Jones at no. 3, at no. 4 Martin Crowe, at no. 5 Fleming (captain), then Carins, Hadlee, Vettori, Smith (wicket keeper) at no. 9, Bruce Taylor at no. 10 and at no. 11 Shane Bond. Richardson can also qualify as opener but if there is only one choice then I selected Sutcliff.

    Hadlee is the best bowler of them, Vettori proved himself as an all-rounder. Carins is also an excellent allrounder. I think Cairns is better than Reid as he is unable to complete 100 wickets in test although he proved him as a batsman with 3428 runs. I think Smith as a keeper is the best choice among all. Fleming is the most successful captain with more than 7172 runs in test with batting average 40.09. In my opinion this is the dream team of New Zealand