Results signal golden era for team
SPORT TALK with Joseph Romanos
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.