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:

PlayerRank RatingMatch achieved in--------------------------------------------------------------------------Mark Richardson8th767v Sri LankaKandy03/05/2003Craig McMillan9th705v ZimbabweBulawayo12/09/2000Chris Cairns12th703v ZimbabweHarare19/09/2000Stephen Fleming13th681v EnglandAuckland24/01/1997Nathan Astle17th693v EnglandChristchurch13/03/2002Mathew Sinclair21st649v PakistanChristchurch15/03/2001Matt Horne25th593v EnglandLord's22/07/1999Lou Vincent55th440v AustraliaPerth30/11/2001Scott Styris62nd411v West IndiesSt George's28/06/2002Daniel Vettori76th295v ZimbabweBulawayo12/09/2000Jacob Oram78th286v Sri LankaKandy03/05/2003
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:

PlayerRank RatingMatch achieved in--------------------------------------------------------------------------Glenn Turner1st801v AustraliaChristchurch08/03/1974John F Reid3rd746v PakistanAuckland25/01/1985Martin Crowe3rd743v ZimbabweHarare07/11/1992Geoff Howarth5th752v West IndiesChristchurch22/02/1980Bert Sutcliffe6th754v EnglandAuckland25/03/1955John R Reid6th741v EnglandChristchurch15/03/1963Jeremy Coney6th691v West IndiesBridgetown26/04/1985John Wright7th706v AustraliaWellington15/03/1990Bevan Congdon8th679v EnglandLord's21/06/1973Bruce Edgar8th722v EnglandNottingham25/08/1983Mark Richardson8th767v Sri LankaKandy03/05/2003Andrew Jones9th667v ZimbabweBulawayo01/11/1992Craig McMillan9th705v ZimbabweBulawayo12/09/2000Graham Dowling10th678v IndiaHyderabad15/10/1969Mark Burgess10th636v West IndiesPort of Spain09/03/1972
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 Turner1stMartin Crowe2ndNathan Astle3rdRoger Twose3rdAndrew Jones4thJohn Wright5thBevan Congdon6thKen Wadsworth7thBruce Edgar7th
Best rankings for other current New Zealand ODI batsmen:

Stephen Fleming15thCraig McMillan17thChris Cairns21stChris Harris28thLou Vincent49th
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:

PlayerRank RatingMatch achieved in--------------------------------------------------------------------------Richard Hadlee1st877v Sri LankaKandy09/03/1984Jack Cowie1st653v EnglandChristchurch21/03/1947Bruce Taylor2nd777v West IndiesPort of Spain20/04/1972Richard Collinge4th700v AustraliaAuckland22/03/1974Ewen Chatfield4th647v Sri LankaColombo (CCC)16/04/1987Simon Doull6th789v IndiaWellington26/12/1998Dick Motz8th645v West IndiesChristchurch13/03/1969Lance Cairns8th656v PakistanAuckland25/01/1985Chris Cairns8th677v AustraliaBrisbane08/11/2001Hedley Howarth9th588v EnglandChristchurch25/02/1971Stephen Boock9th620v PakistanWellington18/01/1985Dion Nash9th729v West IndiesWellington26/12/1999John Bracewell10th571v EnglandNottingham07/08/1986
Best rankings for other current New Zealand Test bowlers:

Daryl Tuffey12thShane Bond15thDaniel Vettori16thJacob Oram32ndPaul Wiseman42nd
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 Hadlee1stEwen Chatfield1stRichard Collinge3rdGavin Larsen4thLance Cairns5thChris Pringle6thHedley Howarth7thChris Harris7thShane Bond7thBevan Congdon8thMartin Snedden8thWillie Watson8thBrian McKechnie9th
Best rankings for other current New Zealand ODI bowlers:

Daryl Tuffey11thChris Cairns14thDaniel Vettori14thJacob Oram14thAndre Adams24thNathan Astle25thScott Styris26thKyle Mills58th
Statistics provided by Duane Pettet