Richardson gets reward for his consistency

Lynn McConnell

August 28, 2003

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For the first time in nine years, New Zealand have a batsman among the top eight in the world rankings. Mark Richardson, despite not having played in a Test since May, finds himself in eighth position on the PriceWaterhouseCoopers rankings. It is the highest by a New Zealander since Martin Crowe reached No. 3 in Sri Lanka in 1992 and then slipped to seventh in 1994.

Consistency is the key to improving in the rankings and Richardson has certainly been that. Given that New Zealand have managed a higher degree than usual in their winning consistency, it is interesting to note how few of the modern players would find a place among the top players in the all-time pantheon. Measuring a player's contribution against those from other eras is always a debating point.

However, applying the statistical reality of the PriceWaterhouseCoopers rankings which were developed in 1987, but were also applied retrospectively to cover earlier eras, it is possible to make some interesting comparisons. They don't make good reading for many of the modern era's players.

It is worth remembering when applying the PwC formula, that players may have achieved higher numerical ratings than at the time they achieved their best ranking, but they were affected by activities of other players elsewhere in the cricket world. So the best rankings applied here are the basis for comparison which means they do not account for higher placings achieved as the result of other players dropping down the list.

Apart from Richardson among batsmen still playing, Craig McMillan is the only other player to have reached the top 10 with his best ranking at No. 9, in 2000 against Zimbabwe.

Best ranking achieved by current New Zealand batsmen:

Player            Rank Rating  Match achieved in
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mark Richardson    8th   767   v Sri Lanka      Kandy           03/05/2003
Craig McMillan     9th   705   v Zimbabwe       Bulawayo        12/09/2000
Chris Cairns      12th   703   v Zimbabwe       Harare          19/09/2000
Stephen Fleming   13th   681   v England        Auckland        24/01/1997
Nathan Astle      17th   693   v England        Christchurch    13/03/2002
Mathew Sinclair   21st   649   v Pakistan       Christchurch    15/03/2001
Matt Horne        25th   593   v England        Lord's          22/07/1999
Lou Vincent       55th   440   v Australia      Perth           30/11/2001
Scott Styris      62nd   411   v West Indies    St George's     28/06/2002
Daniel Vettori    76th   295   v Zimbabwe       Bulawayo        12/09/2000
Jacob Oram        78th   286   v Sri Lanka      Kandy           03/05/2003

Given Stephen Fleming's recent run of form, and his highest score of 274 not out against Sri Lanka this year, it is interesting that it was his maiden Test century, against England in 1997 that gave him his highest ranking.

It is similarly interesting that while Nathan Astle could score the world's fastest double century, off balls faced, it was only sufficient to give him his best ranking to date of 17th.

But, when comparing batsmen through the ages, there are no real surprises among the names at the top of New Zealand's batting order. John F Reid may raise an eyebrow with his third placing, but during the peak time of his career he was remarkably consistent. Similarly, Geoff Howarth's achievement in reaching fifth in the world, again during the period when he was at his most consistent.

Glenn Turner's feat in being the only New Zealander to reach No. 1 occurred after his century in each innings in the first Test victory over Australia in Christchurch in 1974. He leapt from 8th to 1st to head off Garry Sobers, Greg Chappell, Dennis Amiss, Ian Chappell, Mushtaq Mohammad, Alvin Kallicharran and Rohan Kanhai. Turner later reached a rating of 843, the best by a New Zealander, and held the No. 1 position for nearly a year.

New Zealand Test batsmen to be ranked in the top 10:

Player            Rank Rating  Match achieved in
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
Glenn Turner       1st   801   v Australia      Christchurch    08/03/1974
John F Reid        3rd   746   v Pakistan       Auckland        25/01/1985
Martin Crowe       3rd   743   v Zimbabwe       Harare          07/11/1992
Geoff Howarth      5th   752   v West Indies    Christchurch    22/02/1980
Bert Sutcliffe     6th   754   v England        Auckland        25/03/1955
John R Reid        6th   741   v England        Christchurch    15/03/1963
Jeremy Coney       6th   691   v West Indies    Bridgetown      26/04/1985
John Wright        7th   706   v Australia      Wellington      15/03/1990
Bevan Congdon      8th   679   v England        Lord's          21/06/1973
Bruce Edgar        8th   722   v England        Nottingham      25/08/1983
Mark Richardson    8th   767   v Sri Lanka      Kandy           03/05/2003
Andrew Jones       9th   667   v Zimbabwe       Bulawayo        01/11/1992
Craig McMillan     9th   705   v Zimbabwe       Bulawayo        12/09/2000
Graham Dowling    10th   678   v India          Hyderabad       15/10/1969
Mark Burgess      10th   636   v West Indies    Port of Spain   09/03/1972

For most pundits, however, those to have achieved top 10 rankings would be among the reckoning for the best New Zealand team of all time.

In one-day batting, Turner is again top of the list for having achieved a No. 1 ranking during the 1979 World Cup. Crowe was regarded as No. 1 for six weeks early in 1993, but that was by default as the No. 1 batsman Dean Jones suffered a slump in form. It is of interest to note that despite the fact that Bruce Edgar was labelled a non-one-day specialist, especially in the latter stages of his international career, he still achieved a No. 7 best ranking.

New Zealand ODI batsmen to be ranked in the top 10:

Glenn Turner       1st
Martin Crowe       2nd
Nathan Astle       3rd
Roger Twose        3rd
Andrew Jones       4th
John Wright        5th
Bevan Congdon      6th
Ken Wadsworth      7th
Bruce Edgar        7th

Best rankings for other current New Zealand ODI batsmen:

Stephen Fleming   15th
Craig McMillan    17th
Chris Cairns      21st
Chris Harris      28th
Lou Vincent       49th

The bowling rankings similarly reflect the dominance of earlier eras, with Richard Hadlee 88 rating points ahead of his nearest rival in Simon Doull, whose highest ranking was 6th. Doull's situation is an example of the differing standards in eras, which are even better demonstrated by the fact that Jack Cowie could achieve a No. 1 ranking with a rating as low as 653, achieved against England in Christchurch in 1947.

From the time he first achieved the No 1 position against Sri Lanka in 1984, Hadlee only lost a hold of it during four brief periods until his retirement in 1990, at which time he had regained the No. 1 position. Malcolm Marshall, the West Indian fast bowler, was the player concerned on each occasion. Cowie held No. 1 from March 1947 until December of the same year when Ernie Toshack, the Australian supplanted him.

New Zealand Test bowlers to be ranked in the top 10:

Player            Rank Rating  Match achieved in
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
Richard Hadlee     1st   877   v Sri Lanka      Kandy           09/03/1984
Jack Cowie         1st   653   v England        Christchurch    21/03/1947
Bruce Taylor       2nd   777   v West Indies    Port of Spain   20/04/1972
Richard Collinge   4th   700   v Australia      Auckland        22/03/1974
Ewen Chatfield     4th   647   v Sri Lanka      Colombo (CCC)   16/04/1987
Simon Doull        6th   789   v India          Wellington      26/12/1998
Dick Motz          8th   645   v West Indies    Christchurch    13/03/1969
Lance Cairns       8th   656   v Pakistan       Auckland        25/01/1985
Chris Cairns       8th   677   v Australia      Brisbane        08/11/2001
Hedley Howarth     9th   588   v England        Christchurch    25/02/1971
Stephen Boock      9th   620   v Pakistan       Wellington      18/01/1985
Dion Nash          9th   729   v West Indies    Wellington      26/12/1999
John Bracewell    10th   571   v England        Nottingham      07/08/1986

Best rankings for other current New Zealand Test bowlers:

Daryl Tuffey      12th
Shane Bond        15th
Daniel Vettori    16th
Jacob Oram        32nd
Paul Wiseman      42nd

In the ODI list, Hadlee's tenure was not quite so long, the first occasion being from February 5, 1983 until January 6, 1985 when Joel Garner, the West Indian, took over. He had two later one-game stints as No. 1, both matches being played at Dunedin. The first against the West Indies in 1987 and the second, the Test replacement match against Pakistan, in 1989.

Ewen Chatfield's time as No. 1 was for three days, occurring during the 1987 World Cup when he supplanted Marshall, before Marshall took it back.

New Zealand ODI bowlers to be ranked in the top 10:

Richard Hadlee     1st
Ewen Chatfield     1st
Richard Collinge   3rd
Gavin Larsen       4th
Lance Cairns       5th
Chris Pringle      6th
Hedley Howarth     7th
Chris Harris       7th
Shane Bond         7th
Bevan Congdon      8th
Martin Snedden     8th
Willie Watson      8th
Brian McKechnie    9th

Best rankings for other current New Zealand ODI bowlers:

Daryl Tuffey      11th
Chris Cairns      14th
Daniel Vettori    14th
Jacob Oram        14th
Andre Adams       24th
Nathan Astle      25th
Scott Styris      26th
Kyle Mills        58th

Statistics provided by Duane Pettet

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