Re­sults sig­nal golden era for team

SPORT TALK with Joseph Romanos

Central Leader - - NEWS -

The New Zealand cricket test team has snuck up on us.

Over the past 12 months, Bren­don McCul­lum’s boys have beaten the West Indies 2-0 and In­dia 1-0 at home and beaten the West Indies 2-1 and drawn with Pak­istan 1-1 away.

For any team, that is a record to be proud of. For New Zealand it sig­nals a golden era.

The lat­est re­sult, the draw with Pak­istan in the United Arab Emi­rates, was the most im­pres­sive, given how Pak­istan had only a cou­ple of weeks ear­lier hu­mil­i­ated Michael Clarke’s Aus­tralian side there in suc­ces­sive tests.

I’ve al­ways felt the test team of the mid-1980s was the strong­est New Zealand ever fielded, and have com­pared that team with the mod­ern ver­sion. To rep­re­sent the 1980s, I’ve gone with the test sides that won home and away se­ries against Aus­tralia in 1985-86 and then beat Eng­land away 1-0.

Be­sides the play­ers I’ve rated, the 1986 se­lec­tors, not afraid to ring the changes, called on Lance Cairns, Gary Troup, Gary Robert­son, Vaughan Brown, Martin Sned­den, Tony Blain, Derek Stir­ling, Wil­lie Wat­son, Evan Gray, Stu Gille­spie, Trevor Franklin and Ken Ruther­ford dur­ing those cam­paigns.

The 2013-14 team has at var­i­ous times also in­cluded Hamish Ruther­ford, Neil Wag­ner, Peter Ful­ton, Aaron Red­mond and Daniel Vet­tori.

Per­son­nel changes dur­ing a year be­cause of in­jury, form or play­ing con­di­tions, but I’ve tried to go with the most-used play­ers. My rat­ings are of the play­ers at that time, not what

they had been or be­came.

Jeremy Coney, guided by coach Glenn Turner, was an ef­fec­tive cap­tain, but McCul­lum shades him for imag­i­na­tion and en­ergy.

The 1986 team were vir­tu­ally all at the top of their game, though Edgar and Reid never played test cricket again. By com­par­i­son, of the 2014 lineup, it would not be sur­pris­ing if over the next few years, Latham, An­der­son, Nee­sham, Watling, Southee, Sodhi and Boult all climbed higher.

That’s what makes the cur­rent team so ex­cit­ing. It clearly has the po­ten­tial to de­velop into one of our great teams. The cur­rent team bats right to No 11, whereas in 1986, Boock and Chat­field had no pre­ten­sions as bats­men.

It’s ironic that when Mike Hes­son be­came coach in 2012, there was a gen­er­ally sniffy at­ti­tude about him, with many claim­ing he did not have the cre­den­tials for the job and would be out of his depth.

There was more dishar­mony shortly after when he re­placed the test cap­tain, Ross Tay­lor, with McCul­lum in very dodgy cir­cum­stances.

How well they’ve turned things around. McCul­lum is now a New Zealand sports star and Hes­son is a strong con­tender in the coach cat­e­gory for the next Hal­berg Awards.

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