March 27, 2002

Parore ends his career with full potential unrealised

So the end has come. Will this be a Melba-like retirement, the first of many?

Adam Parore, 31, the problem-child of New Zealand Cricket, and cricket, has responded to rumours of his retirement after Saturday's third National Bank Test by confirming them.

As the saying goes, "You're a long time retired", and cricket has been so much part of Parore's life that the real test will be to see whether this really is the end.

Given the ebb and flow of Parore's career, anything is possible.

In all respects, New Zealand could have expected a few more years out of Parore, in fact, he had the ability to not only get through to the World Cup next year, but the World Cup beyond had he so desired.

But, according to reports, he no longer desires and if that is the case then he is wiser to make the move now.

So how will his career be remembered?

Controversial? Yes.

Complete? No.

Satisfying? Possibly.

Nothing could be quite neat and tidy with Parore's career.

He was capable of outstanding wicket-keeping feats but, as he showed, in Wellington in the second English Test, he was equally capable of seeming disinterest.

He was capable of scoring Test centuries, as he showed in Perth during the most outstanding team day in New Zealand's Test summer.

But he was also able to bat very ordinarily at times, again as he showed in Wellington.

There were undoubted times when his priorities seemed tangled, yet there were others when everything was in synch, he was eloquent, and forthcoming with his assessments of situations, and other occasions when he was truculent and insular.

He was, he said, focused and committed to this Test series against England after earlier claiming he was dropping out of cricket for an undisclosed time, citing exhaustion.

Was this brinksmanship after his exclusion from the one-day series against England?

This very situation that has now arisen is exactly what the national selectors were trying to prepare for in recent years when they tried to bring on younger wicket-keepers while resting Parore.

There was criticism at the time of their stance, but theirs was always the correct one, and now the chickens have come home to roost. But that won't ease the pain for the selectors - they are now faced with making short-term choices while resolving the wicket-keeping position in the longer term.

It is always difficult when a player says he has lost interest. But the problem is how far do you go with enticing that player back? How committed is that player once he does come back? How much is he going to give you when you need it most?

No matter how hard the player might be trying, the suspicion is always there about the level of their contribution.

It is hard on the player but by agreeing to come back under those circumstances it is inevitable.

Parore had the ability, that is undoubted, but again the feeling persists that he never made the most of it.

At one stage he said he wanted to play 100 Tests, and to be the first New Zealander to achieve the feat. His participation may allow him to achieve, at least, the 200 career dismissals he wanted.

His career has been an unsettled one. Apart from the controversies that have surrounded him, most notably his replacement as wicket-keeper by Lee Germon in the Glenn Turner-Phase II coaching regime, but also his walk-out on the 1996 tour of the West Indies, and his spats with Auckland, Parore has been moved up and down the batting order which must have affected his overall batting attitudes.

Under normal circumstances, a player who had left an indelible imprint on the record books as Parore has could expect a place among the greats in the game. He could only be described as a contender for that honour, he hasn't quite grasped it all for himself.

And that is sad.

Because at his best Parore has been an outstanding and athletic contributor. He has taken some wonderful catches and effected some lovely stumpings. At one stage he was described as the most technically correct of all of New Zealand's batsmen.

But the lingering view of Parore's career will be that he never quite made the fullest use of the skills he possessed with the consistency and purpose that would have made him the greatest of all New Zealand's wicket-keepers.