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Black Caps summer ratings: our verdict on every player

Thursday 30th March 2017

Are you getting withdrawal symptoms yet?

 

Neil Wagner enthusiastically appeals for a wicket.

Photo: Photosport

A bumper summer of international cricket has come to an end for the Black Caps, unfortunately, in underwhelming fashion.

Wellington has had a pretty crap summer, yet when South Africa were in town for the second test earlier this month, the capital somehow managed to string a few dry days together and the Black Caps got spanked.

The other two test matches? Twice New Zealand more than matched the Proteas and were on the verge of a first win in 13 years, twice it bloody poured.

Draw, loss, draw. If it weren’t for some dodgy weather, the series could well have gone win, loss, win - this with Ross Taylor out with a dodgy calf and Trent Boult and Tim Southee suffering niggles of their own.

Regardless, it’s been a decent run.

Two convincing test wins over highly-rated Pakistan were followed by a complete whitewash of Bangladesh. Sandwiched in between was a disappointing Chappell-Hadlee series against Australia, but a one-day series win against the old foes a few weeks later sealed a bit of vengeance. Then came South Africa.

Still, there are massive positives to take - the emergence of Jeet Raval as a genuine opener, a Martin Guptill special and captain Kane Williamson equalling Martin Crowe’s 17 test tons.

Twenty-seven players put on the national colours this summer. We’ve rated (almost) every one:

TOM LATHAM - 5.5

Reports of Tom Latham’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. Sure, he’s strung some pretty hopeless innings together and has looked ready to cry every time he’s been dismissed, but he scored big against Pakistan and Bangladesh and has averaged 42.36 in tests. His one-day form is more cause for concern. His recent ODI skyscraper chart looks more Gore than New York.

JEET RAVAL - 8.5

Opener Jeet Raval has quickly come into his own.

Photo: Photosport

All hail Jeet Raval. A top four of him, Latham, Kane and Roscoe promises plenty. He’s scored 256 runs in four innings against South Africa and plays like a real cricketer who can hit shots each way. He’s 28 and it seems a shame it took until November to hand him his first cap - it’s not as if he’s been inconsistent at first class level. Still, plenty to look forward to. Don’t worry, Jeet, your first century will come.

KANE WILLIAMSON - 9

Who’s the greatest? Who cares? Not Kane. Five centuries this summer and barely a smile. If Mrs Smith hadn’t given birth to Steve, Williamson would be a good shout for best in the world. He’s now tied with Crowe on 17 test tons and has pushed his average back above 51 after a knock of 176 this week that should have been enough to beat the Proteas. Somehow he’s fallen to fifth on the test batsmen rankings.

ROSS TAYLOR - 7.5

God damn your calf, Ross. Just as the legend was in the midst of a true patch of purple, his summer abruptly ended. His injury was worse timed than one of Kane’s DRS reviews, and he was clearly gutted he missed a chance to finally score some test runs against South Africa. Still, he hit assured one-day tons against Australia and South Africa within a couple of weeks in February and was the calm to Guppy’s storming 180* in Hamilton. He’ll be back for the Champions Trophy.

HENRY NICHOLLS - 6

A fair bit of patience has been rewarded this year. Nicholls scored a butt-clenching 98 against Bangladesh in January, then a century against South Africa playing the aggressive shots we’ve been waiting for. He’s still got a lot to prove, but at least he’s trending up. It’s not like there are many other options.

COLIN DE GRANDHOMME - 6.5

Which cricketing God did Mike Hesson piss off for the Black Caps to end the summer with Colin de Grandhomme as the opening test bowler? Hadlee? Bond? He’s bloody done alright, though. He wouldn’t get close to any other top international team, but he can do a job. His test bowling average is now 25.56.

BJ WATLING - 6

Poor BJ Watling. All he wants is to play with a bit of patience, but due to some middle order woes it seems every time he gets to the crease he’s rushed. He’s a grinder and still our best option with the gloves. He’s made good starts but topped out at 50 against South Africa in Dunedin. His test average this summer is still 39.43. There’s no sign of him moving up in the order, which is a shame. Disappointed in the Chappell-Hadlee series scoring 31 in three games.

TIM SOUTHEE - 6.5

"Just hairspray - that's the secret, Tim." Colin de Grandhomme talks shop with Tim Southee.

Photo: Photosport

Still consistent - it’s been more than a year since Tim Southee failed to take a wicket in a test innings. This summer he passed 200 test wickets - that puts him fifth all-time for New Zealand. Highlights include a stunning six-for in Hamilton against Pakistan in November and five against Bangladesh a couple of months later. Not so consistent in ODIs - his average is 64.16 in seven matches this year.

NEIL WAGNER - 8

How good is Neil Wagner? He’s battled hard and bowled well, taking 31 test wickets at an average of 26.06. His career bowling average is comfortably under 30 and almost matches numero uno - Trent Boult. He can’t really swing it and he’s not particularly fast, but he’ll consistently put it in the right spot. Tenth in the test bowler rankings too!

TRENT BOULT - 7.5

Still the man. World class in all three formats. Took six against Australia in February and 4/64 at an economy of less than two per over against South Africa earlier this month. The brightest spot in the T20 horror show against South Africa at Eden Park last month. A few injury niggles hurt his team more than him. The odd game in India this year should make him a little richer.

MITCHELL SANTNER - 6

After killing it in last year’s World T20, Sants has levelled out a bit. Remains a better option and regular fixture in limited overs cricket. Still, his 73 against Bangladesh and 41 earlier this week showed he can hold a bat at test level. Not going to win many games single-handed, but will be an unassuming contributor for years. A toiling stint in county cricket wouldn’t do him any harm.

MATT HENRY - 6

Still early days for the quick. His four-for this week showed he’s going to be buzzing around the fringes for a while, and made up for his 0/91 Chappell-Hadlee horror show in December.

MARTIN GUPTILL - 9

Martin Guptill walks off Seddon Park after scoring an unbeaten 180 against South Africa.

Photo: Photosport

Guppy’s captain reckoned his knock of 180* was the best one-day innings he’d ever seen. Considering Kane was at Westpac Stadium for the big man’s 237* in a World Cup quarter-final, it’s a big call. After an overdue benching in test cricket, Guptill has averaged 65.57 in ODIs this summer, including a century against the Aussies. It’s tough sometimes trying to reconcile his failure in the longer format. He’s also having a baby! He’d say this summer’s been a 10.

JIMMY NEESHAM - 5.5

It’s been a bit of a tale of two formats for the all-rounder. In one-day cricket he’s come into his own with mature innings against Australia (74) and as Ross Taylor’s foil against South Africa (71*). He’s been good for one or two wickets and a steady economy in the format too, even if his bowling hasn’t lit the world on fire. But his three test innings against the Proteas have been grimacing in terms of how cheaply he handed over his wicket. At least his rep as the funniest man in cricket remains intact.

LOCKIE FERGUSON - 5.5

Oof, Lockie’s first-over wicket on debut had us dreaming. But after dismissing the bloke everyone loves to hate - David Warner - he proved a bit too raw and expensive.

COLIN MUNRO - 6

Some feel Colin Munro is overdue for a test callup.

Photo: Photosport

Pretty much any mention of Colin Munro follows “explosive batsman” - a trait he showed in glimpses while also being frustratingly inconsistent. A stunning T20 century against Bangladesh in 54 balls in the Mount was followed by a golden duck against South Africa. In ODIs his 87 against Bangladesh was followed by 3, 2 and 3. His recent form at domestic level is terrific, but try convincing the selectors he’s more than a luxury option.

NEIL BROOM - 5.5

Broom will cut a frustrated figure upon his return to Otago. After six years in the ODI wilderness, he returned with big, run-a-ball scores against Bangladesh and Australia and scored more than 300 runs in his first four games. He scored 12 in the next four. Finally given his chance in tests. Disappointed.

LUKE RONCHI - 3

Luke definitely has a cool hand. He hasn’t hit a half-century in ODIs in his last 32 tries. This summer he scored 49 runs in four innings. In two T20s he collected two golden ducks.

JEETAN PATEL - 7

It seemed like Jeetan Patel had been out of the side for an age when he returned to take the ball away from the Bangladeshi and South African lefthanders, but he had toiled in India in October. He’s done alright. It feels like he’s never been away. Was on the verge of bowling New Zealand to a test victory this week before the rains came. You wouldn’t have believed that a year ago.

COREY ANDERSON - 6

Not much action this summer for the Christchurch allrounder - just four T20s. Still, he bludgeoned his third biggest international score of 94* off just 41 balls against Bangladesh.

BEN WHEELER - 6.5

Looked reliable in a few T20s against Bangladesh. It will have been sweet to just be back in the national colours a year after recovering from a tough back injury.

ISH SODHI - 6.5

It would have been difficult for Ish to watch Jeetan Patel flourish in his place. The legspinner played a couple of ODIs and T20s this summer and bowled well, especially in the latter format, where he took figures for 3/36 and 2/22 against Bangladesh.

DEAN BROWNLIE - 5

The 32-year-old didn’t really capitalise on a decent run in the one-day team. He started well with scores of 63, 31 and 34 against Australia and South Africa, but regressed to end up with an average of 26.33 in six games.

THE REST

Tom Bruce looks like he could be a good shout in T20s, especially after his 59* against Bangladesh. Todd Astle got a test match against Pakistan but didn’t do anything. Tom Blundell was given a chance with the gloves in a T20 but didn’t get to bat, and Glenn Phillips looked very raw in the format against South Africa.



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Max is a journalist who has worked for The Star, Bleacher Report and RNZ News.
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