The 51allout mailbox sees about as much action as your average cricket writer: almost none. This week, however, we had a rare treat in the form of an email that not only wasn’t spam about how to master telephone calling, but actually contained a proper written article for us to copy and paste wholesale, thus allowing us to spend the day watching Monty Panesar’s dive over and over again on YouTube. One of the best days in the history of 51allout, it must be said. The fact that we were all shitfaced on gin well before lunch probably helped.
Anyway, our mystery writer asked us to present his work – rating the players of New Zealand in their recent Test series against England – under the name of ‘Nicklas Bendtner’. Whether it actually came from the massively overhyped (but actually very shit) Arsenal/Juventus footballer, making the most of having nothing to do in the international break, is not for us to confirm or deny. It seems fairly unlikely though, especially as there was a different name attached to the email.
Ratings are out of ten. Unless they’re supposed to be out of 100 and our mystery man is just really critical of others. Actually, that does sound a lot like Nicklas Bendtner.
Trent Boult – Boult lead the attack superbly throughout the series. He looked dangerous by getting the new ball to swing and worked hard to try remain a threat once the ball had gone soft. Was unlucky not to pick up several more wickets due to dropped catches and close LBW shouts. He has a very bright future ahead of him, and should perform well in English conditions in May.
Peter Fulton – Many doubted his selection before the start of the series, but few can begrudge his achievements. Two centuries, both in the same match, and a fifty meant Two Meter Peter was the leading scorer for New Zealand over the three tests. How he fares in England remains to be seen, but he will be more than happy to at least be in the frame for selection.
Neil Wagner – Got his opportunity thanks to an injury to Doug Bracewell and took it with both hands. Never shy of doing the heavy lifting as first change, ‘Wags’ ended up as the leading wicket taker for New Zealand in the series. His constant changes of angle and never-say-die attitude saw him pick up a number of very important wickets throughout the series.
Brendon McCullum – Scored 248 runs and lead the New Zealand batting averages with 82, including three fifties. But it wasn’t McCullum’s batting that was most impressive. His innovative and attacking captaincy was recognized by pundits and fans alike, and he won many admirers for his approach to captaincy as the series went on. Will probably rue not declaring earlier on day four of the last test, but it is a small blot on an near perfect record.
Kane Williamson – Scored fifties in both Wellington and Auckland, and was unfortunate not to turn both into centuries. Kane’s approach to batting suits the longer format of the game, and it is in the test arena where I would like to see him flourish in years to come. Also can’t go without mentioning his fantastic effort with the ball at Eden Park, where he got the Kiwis within a wicket of a famous series win.
Bruce Martin – Took 4/43 on his test debut at Dunedin, a moment he had waited 14 long years to come. Bowled the most overs of any New Zealand bowler in the series (171) and was rewarded with 9 wickets at an average of 43. Unfortunately his performance in the final test at Auckland was very disappointing.
Hamish Rutherford – An excellent 171 on debut at Dunedin. Even on a a flat pitch it was a wonderfully controlled innings from start to finish. That innings aside, Rutherford struggled throughout the rest of the series. He has a decent future ahead of him as a test opener, but could come under fire in the return series in England.
BJ Watling – Had a good series as wicketkeeper, making very few mistakes behind the stumps across all three matches. Only a small contribution with the bat, although his best innings in Wellington came when it was most needed, so he showed he can step up when called upon.
Ross Taylor – Poor series for Roscoe. Along with Brownlie he was the only recognised batsman not to post a fifty, although rain prevented this in the Wellington Test. Was unlucky to be dismissed early on in his innings to a quality delivery several times, but that aside he won’t be happy with his return in the three tests.
Dean Brownlie – Only scored 109 runs at an average of 27, a lean series with the bat for Brownlie. Since coming into the side he has generally been one of the most consistent performers with the bat, and many will hope he regains that sort of form in a few months time in England.
Tim Southee – New Zealand’s biggest disappointment of the series. Southee was expected to lead the attack with Boult, but returned poor series figures of 6 wickets at an average of 56 and a very poor strike rate of 136. Southee can get the ball to swing and bowl with good pace, although he only did this in small doses in a series that was batsman friendly throughout. Will fancy English conditions, but will need to produce more consistency with the ball if he is ever going to become a top frontline bowler.
Of course, since this article turned up in our inbox, Tim Southee was awarded the New Zealand player of the year award. Quite how this happened, we can’t say for sure. Did an unnamed international footballer, with nothing to do after being dropped for six months for drink-driving, spend his international break using his influence to fix the results of a vote in New Zealand?
Again, it does seem quite unlikely.