Picking the All-Time Great New Zealand Test XI
Perhaps the nation with the least documented cricketing history among the major Test playing nations, New Zealand's finest players have always remained somewhat of an after-thought.
While cricket's enthusiasts drool over the greats to have represented the game's preeminent sides, the cricketers produced by the relatively tiny country to the east of Australia have often been forgotten.
The lack of a defining series on the international stage has always hurt the Kiwis, their lack of involvement in the game's marquee events sadly hiding the country's brightest stars from the limelight.
Yet that hasn't stopped New Zealand from churning out a number of cricketing greats, some of which have been truly breathtaking during their time in the game.
So who are those men? Which players from cricket's forgotten nation have shone the brightest to earn selection in New Zealand's greatest Test XI?
That team is presented on the following slides.
1. Glenn Turner
Career Span: 1969-1983
Batting Average: 44.64
A pioneer of professional cricket in New Zealand, Glenn Turner is a certainty for his nation's greatest XI.
The prolific batsman was among the first to challenge the amateur cricket organisations in New Zealand, embarking on a journey with a single-minded focus on relentless run scoring.
His batting average of 44.64 is among the very finest in New Zealand's history while his somewhat limited stroke-play during his early years eventually blossomed into a sumptuous collection of shots.
His four double-hundreds on the 1971-72 tour to the West Indies is arguably his greatest feat with Turner leaving behind a batting legacy like few others ever have.
2. John Wright
Career Span: 1978-1993
Batting Average: 37.82
The first New Zealand batsman to pass 4,000 runs, John Wright sits third on the list of his nation's all-time highest run-scorers.
Part of the 1980s New Zealand team that enjoyed considerable success against both England and Australia, Wright set the tone at the top of the order with his sound batting that was full of poise.
A strong defence combined with a vast array of strokes made the left-hander an elite Test batsman with his 12 hundreds the second-highest mark in his country's cricketing history.
After finishing his Test career, Wright became a highly regarded coach, taking India to some famous victories in the early part of the last decade.
3. Stephen Fleming
Career Span: 1994-2008
Batting Average: 40.06
The most successful captain in New Zealand's history, Stephen Fleming comfortably walks onto this list.
A tall, talented and elegant left-hander, Fleming's career is perhaps among the most unfulfilled in cricket's history.
Although he's the most prolific Kiwi batsman of all time, Fleming's talent never quite led to the results that so many believed were within his grasp.
Effortless power and timing were the hallmarks of his batting, his ability to find every inch of the fence simply tantalising. Yet, Fleming scored just nine hundreds in 111 Tests, a disappointing return for a man of such great talent.
Yet, that doesn't affect his position among New Zealand's true greats, a group in which Fleming comfortably sits.
4. Martin Crowe
Career Span: 1982-1995
Batting Average: 45.36
Martin Crowe is simply the finest batsman New Zealand has ever produced.
His classical style was perhaps only trumped by his time at the crease, which saw Crowe (cousin to actor Russell Crowe) become one of the world's very best.
Persistent injuries failed to hamper the prolific right-hander—his 17 Test hundreds the stand-out statistic in New Zealand's batting history.
Possessing every shot in the book, Crowe could play both dogged innings of resistance as well as flourishing expressions of freedom. His 188 (from 462 balls) against the fearsome West Indies in 1985 were arguably his finest innings while dashing hundreds against Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe typified his attack talents.
Unquestionably his country's finest-ever player with the bat.
5. Nathan Astle
Career Span: 1996-2006
Batting Average: 37.02
Dashing and full of flair, Nathan Astle was among the most enjoyable cricketers to watch during his decade in the game.
His counterattacking ways were perfectly suited to his country's underdog status, which saw him become New Zealand's most dangerous batsman around the turn of the century.
His astonishing 222 against England in Christchurch in 2002 remains the fastest double hundred ever scored in Test cricket when he reached the milestone from just 153 balls.
Although Astle never quite reached the game's pinnacle with the bat, his enterprising style made the right-hander one of Test cricket's true entertainers.
6. Chris Cairns
Career Span: 1989-2004
Batting Average: 33.53
Bowling Average: 29.40
One of the greatest Test all-rounders of all time, Chris Cairns was always going to find himself selected into his nation's finest XI.
In the mould of the great Sir Ian Botham, Cairns tore up the traditional script of Test cricket and became one of the world's most feared players.
His hard-hitting batting was as destructive as it was brilliant while his probing seam-bowling saw him become one of a select group to pass 3,000 runs and 200 wickets in a Test career.
Although he rarely gets the recognition he deserves, Cairns is unquestionably among the greatest New Zealand players of all time.
7. Brendon McCullum
Career Span: 2004-2013
Batting Average: 35.38
Although known more for his exploits in the Twenty20 arena, Brendon McCullum is undoubtedly his nation's finest keeper-batsman.
Unorthodox, powerful and relentlessly innovative, McCullum has come to embody the modern game. His ability to find the fence in ways that have rarely been seen previously has made the 32-year-old one of the world's most captivating cricketers.
That propensity for the unconventional has perhaps overshadowed his work with the gloves. His athleticism behind the stumps combined with lightening hands means McCullum can be just as spectacular with the gloves as he is with the bat.
8. Sir Richard Hadlee
Career Span: 1973-1990
Bowling Average: 22.29
Batting Average: 27.16
Sir Richard Hadlee is undeniably New Zealand's greatest ever cricketer.
His bowling record of 431 wickets at 22.29 is one of the best records in the game's history worldwide, his control and subtle variations perhaps unrivaled in his generation. His fierce competitive spirit also made him among the most combative players in the world, an intensity which led New Zealand to unprecedented success during the 1980s.
Yet that bowling record is made all the more impressive by his feats with the bat. More than 3,000 runs, which included two Test hundreds, saw Hadlee become one of the greatest all-rounders of all time.
Truly a phenomenal player, Hadlee is the undisputed king of New Zealand cricket.
9. Daniel Vettori
Career Span: 1997-2012
Bowling Average: 34.20
Batting Average: 30.10
There's simply no doubt regarding Daniel Vettori's place in this side for he's the finest spinner ever to come from Kiwi shores.
Unwavering control and intelligence made the left-armer an elite Test bowler, his subtle variations in flight and turn enough to trouble even the greatest batsmen of his generation.
His ability to work a batsman over, to keep them on strike and vulnerable for sustained periods, was a catalyst for New Zealand's surprisingly enthralling confrontations with Australia during the early 2000s.
Yet, Vettori was also a fine batsman, transforming himself from a plucky tail-ender to a flourishing lower order player during the latter years of his career.
That he sits in the top five for both wickets-taken and runs-scored in New Zealand's history perfectly demonstrates his impact in the international game.
10. Shane Bond
Career Span: 2001-2009
Bowling Average: 22.09
A career ruined by injury, Shane Bond was among the most feared fast bowlers on earth during the early stages of his career.
Fast, hostile and capable of wild movement, Bond was simply lethal when at the top of his game. His average of 22.09 is the best mark in New Zealand history (trumping Hadlee's 22.29) while his strike rate of 38.7 is simply incomparable in his nation's all-time records.
Had injury not derailed his career, Bond could have become one of cricket's all-time great fast bowlers.
11. Chris Martin
Career Span: 2000-2013
Bowling Average: 33.81
Almost a cult-like figure in New Zealand cricket, Chris Martin is the ideal candidate on which to finish this list.
His unassuming ways typify his nation's presence in world cricket, yet he was as effective as he was unspectacular.
Guile and control were Martin's greatest assets, given that sheer pace simply wasn't within his capabilities. Yet, that didn't stop the somewhat gentle right-armer from becoming his country's third-highest wicket taker.
His ability to get the ball to nip both ways from a length made Martin an uncomfortable bowler, so, too, his barely detectable changes in seam position and swing.
In a generation where spectacular has become the norm, Martin, much like his nation, remained an unobtrusive, yet effective, presence on the world stage.