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New Zealand’s best ever one-Test players

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Roar Guru
2nd May, 2021
20

This is the second article in a series where I select a team of cricketers from each country who have the distinction of playing in only one Test.

New Zealand have only been playing Test cricket since 1930, and 280 players have now worn the famous black cap since that first match in Christchurch. Just over 30 players have played only one Test. Here is a team, in batting order, made up of NZ players since 1953 who only played one Test.

The early order batting would depend heavily on Les Watt to occupy the crease and lend support to captain Richard Jones. The attacking middle order of Colin Munro, Rodney Redmond and Andre Adams are all capable of scoring quickly, and they would need to fire if the team was to post a decent score.

The pace attack could best be described as steady and would need to bowl tightly, and front-line bowlers Gary Robertson, Michael Mason and David Sewell would have some handy support from both Munro and Adams. Spin bowling looks to be the biggest weakness in the team with Greg Loveridge hardly inspiring a lot of confidence.

It is hardly a side full of household names. I wonder how they’d go?

1. Peter Truscott
A right-handed opening batsman, Truscott’s career was almost over before it got started. He broke into NZ first class cricket at the age of 20 in 1961, played 18 first class matches over the next six years, and then dropped out of the first class scene at the age of 25. With only one century and four fifties from his 18 first class matches, and a total of 904 first class runs at an average of just under 26, he was lucky to be selected for his only Test in 1965 when he opened the batting against Pakistan in the third Test in Christchurch. Asif Iqbal took his wicket in both innings for scores of three and 26 as the series ended in a nil-all draw.

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2. Les Watt
Les Watt was a grafting opening bat from Otago who had to wait until age 31 to make his Test debut. Not known for his stroke making, he averaged just 23 in first class cricket, and while he scored ten fifties, a first class century eluded him. After carrying the drinks on a couple of occasions in the home series against England in 1950-51, he finally got the call up for the first Test against England at Dunedin in 1955. Batting at number six, he was bowled for scores of zero and two as England won the match by eight wickets. Thanks for coming, Les.

3. Richard Jones (captain)
Richard Jones was a prolific run scorer in NZ domestic first class cricket, accumulating over 7200 runs in 124 matches at an average of just under 36. He scored 19 centuries and 33 half centuries during his first class career. Despite this, he had to wait until the age of 30 to make his Test debut when he was selected to play the second Test against Pakistan in 2003. Batting at number four, he managed scores of just 16 and seven in a match easily won by Pakistan. He also played five ODIs for NZ that year.

Black Caps cricket helmet

(Photo by Jan Kruger-ICC/ICC via Getty Images)

4. Trevor Barber
Barber had an unremarkable first class career, scoring just over 2000 runs in 49 matches at an average of 23 and just one century to go with his 14 half centuries. He was called up to national duty for the third Test against the West Indies at Wellington in 1956 and fell to spinner Sonny Ramadhin in each innings for scores of 12 and five. A very good fielder, he also caught Gary Sobers in the West Indies’ first innings.

5. Colin Munro
A big-hitting left-hand bat and handy right-arm medium pace bowler, Munro is well known for his exploits for NZ in short-form cricket, having played 57 ODIs and 65 T20 matches for his adopted country. He’s also scored over 3600 runs at first class level with the excellent average of just under 52, and has 13 first class centuries and 15 half centuries to his credit. What an excellent conversion rate! He made his Test debut for NZ in the second Test against South Africa at Port Elizabeth in 2013, scoring zero and 15 batting at number seven, and taking 2-40 off 18 overs with the ball, including the wicket of Faf du Plessis. Surprisingly, that was his last Test.

6. Rodney Redmond (wicketkeeper)
Redmond had quite a useful first class career, scoring over 3100 runs at an average of just under 34, and picking up five centuries and 14 fifties along the way. But he really hit his straps when called up to open the batting in the drawn third Test against Pakistan at Auckland in 1973. He scored 107 and 56 in the game to give him a batting average of 81.50 after one Test. What could go wrong from here? He was then an automatic selection for the 1973 tour of England but an unsuccessful conversion from wearing glasses to contact lenses saw him dramatically lose form and confidence and he never made it back into the Test team. A classic case of if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.

Generic cricket ball

(Steven Paston – EMPICS/Getty Images)

7. Andre Adams
Adams was quite a useful all-rounder with his fast-medium bowling and late-order aggressive batting. He played 42 ODIs for NZ and a handful of T20 matches, and also had quite a successful first class career in England, notching up over 4500 runs at an average of just over 21, with three centuries and 18 fifties, and taking nearly 700 wickets at an average of just on 24 with his swing bowling. He made his Test debut at the age of 27 in the third Test against England in 2002 and acquitted himself quite well, taking a total of 6-105 for the match, including the wickets of Nasser Hussain, Andrew Flintoff and Michael Vaughan, as NZ won the match. Batting at nine, he could only manage scored of seven and nine, falling twice to Flintoff. Although picked on the subsequent tour to the West Indies, injuries prevented him taking any real part in the series, and he lost his place in the Test team.

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8. Gary Robertson
Robertson was a steady medium-fast bowler who first made the international scene for NZ in ODIs, and played ten limited-overs matches for his country across nine years. He was a steady first class cricketer, scoring 1875 runs in 88 matches at an average of just over 21, and taking 252 wickets at an average of just under 30. He got his Test call up in the third Test against Australia in Auckland in 1986, a match won comfortably by NZ as spinner John Bracewell spun his side to victory. Opening the bowling in the first innings with Richard Hadlee, Robertson took 1-91 off 24 overs, and wasn’t bowled in the second innings.

9. Michael Mason
Mason was a true grafter, and could bowl a consistently good line and length with his right-arm medium-fast bowling. His career was somewhat dogged by injuries which stopped him reaching his full potential on the international stage. He played 26 ODIs and three T20 matches for NZ, but only the one Test. He was a solid first class performer though, taking 288 wickets at 25 in his 91-game career. His only Test match came at the age of 30 in 2004 when he was called into the team for the third Test against South Africa at Wellington, a match won by the visitors by six wickets. Opening the bowling with Chris Martin, Mason failed to make in impact and finished the match with figures of 0-105 off 22 overs.

Cricket generic

(Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

10. Greg Loveridge
Greg Loveridge was a leg spinner who hardly set the first class cricket scene alight, taking just 46 wickets in his 29-game first class career. He made his Test debut for NZ against Zimbabwe at Hamilton in 1996 and holds the unwanted distinction of not bowling a ball, after fracturing a knuckle while batting in the first innings, on his 25th birthday.

11. David Sewell
A left-arm fast-medium bowler, Sewell played first class cricket for Otago for then years, taking 218 wickets at an average of just under 29. With a first class batting average of just under six, he was a genuine tail ender. His only chance at Test cricket, or any international cricket for that matter, came at the age of 19 when he opened the bowling for his country in the drawn second Test against Zimbabwe at Bulawayo in 1997. His bowling figures for the match of 0-90 off 13 overs saw him consigned to the international scrap heap before the age of 20.

12. Hamish Bennett (12th man)
Bennett has tasted success as a bowler in first class cricket, ODIs and T20 matches for NZ, with over 300 wickets across those formats. Injured in his only Test in 2010 against India at the age of 23, he was only able to bowl in the first innings, and returned figures on 0-47 off 15 overs. He hasn’t been given another opportunity at Test level.

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