Brad Lewis: New Zealand cricket's greatest-ever test match XI

OPINION: New Zealand’s elevation to the No.1 test cricket team in the world has many wondering if this is the greatest team in our history.

That argument can certainly be made, although the 1985 and 2001 sides also have good cases to dispute that.

Regardless, this is a true golden era of NZ cricket and many of the current crop should go down as all-time greats when their careers are done.

But how many would make the best NZ side ever?

Newshub's Brad Lewis takes a crack at picking his greatest Blackcaps test XI, based on minimum requirements of 15 tests played, 1000 runs scored or 80 wickets taken  

Glenn Turner 

41 tests, 2991 runs, 44.64 average, seven centuries

Glenn Turner
Glenn Turner Photo credit: Photosport

An easy choice for those with very faint memories of watching Turner bat, but borne out by stats and what experts say. Regarded as one of the top 3-4 batsmen in our history, Turner went big when he passed three figures, notching a top score of 259, an NZ record at the time.

Mark Richardson

38 tests, 2776 runs, 44.77 average, four centuries

Mark Richardson
Mark Richardson Photo credit: Photosport

Without doubt, Richardson deserves his spot in this side at the expense of current Blackcaps opener Tom Latham and former skipper John Wright.

He turned himself into one of the best opening bats in world cricket during his era with a simple gameplan and selective shot-making. Solid in defence, Richardson was truly reliable at the top and would have played more tests, if  he had not retired to enter the broadcast realm.

Kane Williamson

83 tests, 7115 runs, 54.31 average,  24 centuries

Kane Williamson
Kane Williamson Photo credit: Getty

Our greatest ever? Could be.

Williamson just might be one of the best 20 batsmen in the history of the game and when it's all said and done, his career record will reflect that. Could pass 50 centuries, if New Zealand plays 10 tests a year for the next seven, by which time he will be 37 and winding down.

What a player.

Martin Crowe (c)

77 tests, 5444 runs, 45.36 average, 17 centuries

Martin Crowe
Martin Crowe Photo credit: Photosport

Gets the captaincy nod, because he was a great mix between Brendon McCullum's aggression, and the cricket brain of Jeremy Coney or Williamson. Crowe was as perfect a batsman as there's ever been and his cover drive was a thing of beauty.

Scored test-winning centuries against Australia in Australia, and against a West Indian attack that included Joel Garner, Courtney Walsh and Malcolm Marshall. Was a single away from reaching a triple-century back in 1991 against Sri Lanka, but nurdled one through to the 'keeper.

Ross Taylor 

104 tests, 7367 runs, 46.04 average, 19 centuries

Ross Taylor
Ross Taylor Photo credit: Getty

Not convinced the New Zealand public quite appreciates just how good this bloke has been over a 17-year career. Approaching 37, Taylor may have played his last at home - who knows, but a world test championship final might be an occasion fitting for one of the best batsmen in our history to retire on top.

BJ Watling

73 tests, 3773 runs, 38.11 average, eight centuries

BJ Watling
BJ Watling Photo credit: Photosport

A near-automatic choice, with only Ian Smith and Brendon McCullum rivalling Watling for the wicketkeeping spot. Ultimately, Watling's consistency with the bat and more-than-adequate glovework makes this an easy decision.

Watling is a proven fighter and a key figure in the success of the current Blackcaps side.

Sir Richard Hadlee

86 tests, 3124 runs, 27.10 average , two centuries, 431 wickets, 22.3 average

Sir Richard Hadlee
Sir Richard Hadlee Photo credit: Getty

Enough said. The greatest cricketer in our history and the leader of an attack that would rival most in any era.

Was handy enough with the bat and, if anything, didn't achieve the results his talent warranted.

Daniel Vettori

113 tests, 4531 runs, 30.00 average, six centuries, 362 wickets, 34.36 average

Dan Vettori
Dan Vettori Photo credit: Getty

You could argue Vettori is the greatest all-rounder in NZ cricket history. Vettori produced results on a consistent basis with both bat and ball, and is the only genuine world-class spin bowler in our history.

Probably could have kept going if he wanted to and would have gone close to Hadlee's mark of 431 wickets in red-ball cricket.

Tim Southee

77 tests, 302 wickets, 28.71 average

Tim Southee
Tim Southee Photo credit: Photosport

Results with the ball speak for themselves. Tim Southee is the second-highest seam-bowling wicket-taker in NZ history.

As he has matured, Southee has figured out how to be effective in conditions that don't suit his style. A master of using the crease as a weapon, Southee is a true bowling genius these days and his test record in the last five years is phenomenal.

Now 32, you would think Hadlee's record is out of Southee's reach, but given his fitness, don't be surprised if he hangs around another five years. 

Shane Bond

18 tests, 87 wickets, 22.09 average

Shane Bond
Shane Bond Photo credit: Getty

The X-factor in this bowling line-up with the ability to bowl in-swing to right-handers at close to 150kph. Injury ruined what would have been a phenomenal career.

Just 18 tests for Bond, but he won two of those almost singlehandedly with last-day wickets against Pakistan and West Indies. His ball to dismiss Steve Waugh on debut in Australia was a  brute.

Trent Boult 

71 tests, 281 wickets,  28.01 average

Trent Boult
Trent Boult Photo credit: Photosport

There is a narrative that Trent Boult has struggled a bit in recent seasons, but the stats would suggest otherwise. His test bowling average has improved by almost a run per wicket in the last three seasons and with 281 scalps in 71 tests, his selection in this side was a no-brainer.

He would share the new-ball with 'Sir Paddles'.

Honourable mentions 

Bert Sutcliffe, John R Reid, Chris Cairns, John Wright, Stephen Fleming, Andrew Jones, Ewen Chatfield, Brendon McCullum, Tom Latham and John Bracewell.

Martin Donnelly: World War II cost Donnelly the best years of his career. The talented lefthander failed to make the minimum threshold for this team, playing just seven tests between 1937-49, but making the most of his limited action.

Donnelly scored 582 runs at 52.90 average, with one century and four fifties. Those that played with him claim he was the best batsman New Zealand had ever seen up to that point. 

Brad Lewis is a Newshub online producer