Selecting a greatest New Zealand test XI is a curly
exercise, made even harder when you restrict its members to a
maximum of just five tests. Cricket writer Adrian Seconi
picks a team from players, who for whatever reason, were cut
off in their prime.
Rodney Redmond (one test, 1973) Who could forget
Rodney Redmond? The selectors, that's who. The blond-headed
left-hander became an instant cult hero when he scored a
century on debut and backed it up with a half-century in the
second innings. But his efforts against Pakistan were as good
as it got. Failing eyesight and a drop-off in form brought an
end to Redmond's brief international career.
Bert Vance (four tests, 1988-89) The Wellington
wicketkeeper turned opening batsman forged a very respectable
first-class record, scoring 12 centuries and averaging 34.43
in 119 games for his province. The highlight was an
undefeated 254 scored against Northern Districts at the Basin
Reserve in January 1989.
He did not let his country down when he was called into the
national squad at the age of 33. The right-hander scored 207
runs at 29.57 in four tests in the late '80s.
Rod Latham (four tests, 1992-93) The burly opener is
better known for his efforts at the top of the New Zealand
order in the one-day game, but he played four tests, scoring
219 runs at 31.28. The highlight was the 119 he scored
against Zimbabwe in Bulawayo in November 1992.
Brun Smith (four tests, 1947-52) A popular performer
for Canterbury during the 1940s and early '50s, Smith played
four tests but lost his place to the great John Reid. There
is certainly no shame in that and Smith got to protect an
impressive average of 47.40. No doubt he would have played
more than the four tests had New Zealand played more test
cricket during that era.
Gary Stead (five tests, 1999) As a gap-filler Gary
Stead did an admirable job. He played all five of his tests
in a nine-month period in 1999 and showed plenty of grit,
particularly against the South African attack which included
Allan Donald and Shaun Pollock. He scored 78 against India in
the subcontinent but was dropped after a disappointing
showing against the West Indies.
Ian Cromb (five tests, 1931-32) He toured England in
1931 with Tom Lowry's New Zealand side and played in all
three tests. His highlight was bowling the great Wally
Hammond in the first test at Lord's for just seven runs and
he also dismissed openers Fred Bakewell and John Arnold as
the home side slumped to 31 for three.
He played five tests in all, averaging 20 with the bat and 55
with the ball. But he was a much better player than those
bare statistics suggest and gets the nod as the team's
Mark Priest (three tests, 1990-98) The Canterbury
left-arm spinner took more wickets for his province than Sir
Richard Hadlee but was unable to reproduce that form on the
international stage. He played three tests in eight years
with modest success, but took 329 first-class wickets at
31.84, including a best of nine for 95. He was also a useful
batsman with four first-class centuries and an average of
Barry Milburn (three tests, 1969) The Otago keeper was
a well-respected gloveman, but his career was held back
because he lacked batting ability. He did have one memorable
day with the blade when he scored 103 against Wellington at
Molyneux Park in Alexandra. It was his only first-class 100.
Milburn played three tests for New Zealand against the
touring West Indies side in 1969 and took six catches and
made two stumpings.
Andre Adams (one test, 2002) The mercurial right-armer
is a polarising character, but he took six wickets on debut
against England in 2002 and rightly would have expected
another shot at test cricket after a strong performance like
that. But he struggled for consistency and fell behind
all-rounder Jacob Oram in the pecking order.
He has taken more than 600 first-class wickets and certainly
deserved a second test at the very least.
Heath Davis (five tests, 1994-97) The big-hearted
Wellington fast bowler was erratic but exciting. He bowled
with plenty of heat, but his technique was sadly lacking.
A colourful character, with equally colourful hairdos, he had
a cult following, particularly among Wellingtonians. He did
not have the worst record either, picking up 17 wickets in
five tests at the very respectable average of 29.35.
Murray Webb (three tests, 1971-74) He is better known
for his clever caricatures. But before Webb took to
lampooning some of New Zealand's most notable individuals he
forged a very useful first-class career for Otago.
In 20 games for his province, the right-arm fast bowler took
105 wickets at an average of 18.54. That sort of form eluded
him in the international arena. In three tests he took four
wickets at a bulky average 117.75. He retired young, but one
wonders what he would have been capable of, with a few more
The five-test-or-less XI
Rodney Redmond (one test, 1973)
Bert Vance (four tests, 1988-89)
Rod Latham (four tests, 1992-93)
Brun Smith (four tests, 1947-52)
Gary Stead (five tests, 1999)
Ian Cromb (five tests, 1931-32)
Mark Priest (three tests, 1990-98)
Barry Milburn (three tests, 1969)
Andre Adams (one test, 2002)
Heath Davis (five tests, 1994-97)
Murray Webb (three tests, 1971-74)