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The Kiwi under-16ers: New Zealand players with fewer than 16 Tests

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Roar Rookie
16th May, 2022
27

Eons ago I started this series with the best ever WA team with fewer than 16 Tests.

Why? Well, why not? I’ve got to do something when there’s nothing to binge watch on Netflix. And actually it was because WA won 16 Pura Cups and 16 50-over Pura Ramekins. So that’s why.

Just a reminder, here is the original WA team selected.

So there are plenty of prolific scorers at state level and a really strong bowling attack.

So it’s time to take on their penultimate opponents (sorry to spoil the ending). We welcome New Zealand.

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Why NZ? Why are they playing when they have never won a west Test?

WA diehards would probably argue that it should be the old enemy, those English minnows. WA diehards are whingers like that. But there’s reason, you cranky old westerners.

Firstly, England are rubbish. Let’s not kid ourselves about these minnows. We could assemble an entire grade of 16 teams of England players with fewer than 16 Tests.

And being England, it’d be third grade. And they’d get relegated.

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Secondly, New Zealand have a surprising number of all-time greats with fewer than 16 Tests to their name.

Well, maybe it isn’t so surprising, or maybe it is. So while they have traditionally struggled on these shores, I’ve attempted to improve this by including at least one Hadlee.

Black Caps cricket helmet

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

1. Rodney Redmond
See what Tony wrote in his article. 

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2. Walter Hadlee
Well, they did name a trophy after him and his kids, and he also captained his country. And I don’t want to start a riot by naming a NZ cricket XI without a Hadlee.

He only averaged 30 in 11 Tests with one century but was considered a Mike Brearley-type leader with a Bruce Edgar-like average. He produced talented offspring so that’s an extra ten to his average.

3. Stewie Dempster
A right-handed batsman with the Adam Voges-like average of 65 in ten Tests is often picked in NZ’s best ever XI.

I don’t like the ‘ie’ at the end of his name though. Stew or Stewart or Stoohart for the traditionalists and diehards here, thanks Mr Dempster.

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4. Martin Donnelly
Like Stewie (not Stewart, or Stew, Stoo or even Stu), he is often selected in the best ever Kiwi team even after only seven Tests (average 53, one hundred and four 50s).

Seriously, how can these ‘Not The All Blacks’ keep picking blokes as best ever after less than 16 Tests? Doesn’t longevity matter? Clearly not.

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Anyway, his left-arm orthodox spin claimed 43 wickets in first-class cricket at the Dipak (no relation to Ajaz) Patel-like average of 40.

5. Frank Brunton Smith
Brun’s reportedly violent and entertaining batting included four post-war Tests with two 50s, a high of 96 at 47.7.

His first-class average was Chris Cairns-like 33 and if we imagine him in the mode of Chris/Lance, then he’s definitely in.

6. Jimmy Neesham
You might remember him from such games as the ODI cricket final against the minnows. With 12 Tests (33 batting, 48 bowling), he’s chosen as much as his ability to post hilarious tweets.

Try doing that in the 1950s, Bert Sutcliffe.

Also, Neesh’s record will undoubtedly improve when he plays the minnows in a Test, which he’s yet to do.

Chris Woakes and the beaten Kiwis.

(Michael Steele/Getty Images)

7. Lee Germon
After a disastrous ‘centenary of NZ’ season where skipper Ken Rutherford was dumped, Germon was selected to captain the team on debut in 1995.

With a fantastic record leading Canterbury in the domestic comp, hopes were high. But hopes, particularly James Hopes, never produced at Test level so the karma was certainly against the keeper-batsman.

Germon’s gig was over in two years and after 12 Tests with only one victory, against Pakistan, to his name.

Still, Lee Kenneth Germon can claim he did a better job than Kenneth Rutherford in Kenneth Rutherford’s debut series versus the Windies.

8. 
Look, with Kyle ‘Jenna’ Jameson currently on 14 Tests, he should be a mortal lock. But that’s a bit cheeky picking a current player.

I also thought about Lockie Ferguson (for pace), Willie Watson (because it’s alliterative), Geoff Allott (left-arm seamer), Murphy Su’a (left-arm seamer), Shayne O’Connor (left-arm seamer) … well, pretty much any left-arm seamer.

But after all that I decided to go with left-arm seamer, Gary Troup.

No, wait, no I didn’t. I went with … 

9. Heath Te-Ihi-O-Te-Rangi Davis
Heath was raw, all pace, bowled loads of no balls and had more than a few injuries in his five-Test, 20-wicket career from 1994 to 1997.

But with today’s sports science and online trolling, Heath would still be very quick with fewer injuries and no balls.

He would be unpredictable and scary and on that bouncy WACA deck.

10. Jack Cowie
This bloke deserves an article on his own. As Bill Lawry would say, ‘What a cricketer’.

Before umpiring three Tests, ‘Bull’ was a fast bowler in nine, taking 45 wickets including those of notable bunnies Denis Compton, John Edrich, Cyril Washbrook, Stan McCabe, Lindsay Hassett, Wally Hammond, Joe Hardstaff Jr and Len Hutton.

With a clear disliking for players with a surname starting with H, Bull plucked Sir Len out four times in seven Tests.

He’s also the only Kiwi ever to dismiss the Don, caught for 11 while playing for SA, which is a record not likely to be broken.

Bull took four five-fors (probably when bowling to Hutton) and one instance of ten for the match. 

He was a rubbish bat with zero 50s in 86 first-class games and is clearly the role model for Chris ‘I’m not from Coldplay’ Martin.

11. Ajaz Patel
Seriously, if he played in the 1940s when he took his fabulous 10-119 against the country of his birth, he would be named the best Kiwi cricketer ever after Stew/Stu/Stoo Dempster and Donnelly.

Nowadays, he gets dropped. The current cricket world champs (they really do like beating India) have just too much talent. It’s not fair.

Ajaz Patel celebrates a wicket.

(Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images)

So who wins? Look, even though NZ have only won three Tests out of 48 in Australia, and never in Perth, the mere name of Hadlee will send shell-shocks through the WA team.

But it’s Wally and not Ricky, so the shock won’t last.

And this WA team have the bounce of the WACA, have a very capable team and are hardened by miraculously sneaking past the three NSW under-16s team.

The western tail would also hang around longer than a freeloading couch surfer just looking to crash for a few days to sort some stuff out.

Those invaluable runs and the Doctor makes it advantage to the west and their coach, Margaret River.

So it’s victory to WA. Of course.

Now onto the final in what is the final article of this series (finally!).

The WA under-16s play the second international touring team. Why? Well, because in the good old days of tobacco-sponsored sport and pre-online sports gambling and Tony Greig’s weather watch, we had tri-series and tour matches.

Tour matches as we know were a wonderful chance for the players to get on the drink for three nights.

In the ultimate battle of west meets west, it’s going to be a corker. Finally.

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