By definition, an all-rounder should be the most valuable player in any cricket team. They can change the course of a match with either bat or ball, and here are ten of the best all round cricketers to have played for New Zealand.
Top 10 All-Rounders that New Zealand Cricket has Produced
Sir Richard Hadlee
Even if Sir Richard Hadlee had struggled with the bat, many would still argue that he was the best cricketer that New Zealand had produced. He remains their most successful wicket taker in test cricket and his total of 431 international victims in the longer format is a Kiwi record that has stood for over 30 years.
He was a bowling all-rounder but Richard Hadlee could certainly make an impact with the bat. He scored 4875 runs in two international formats with two hundreds and an undefeated best of 151.
Daniel Vettori will primarily be remembered for his orthodox left arm spin, but his stats with the bat tell us that he was a genuine all rounder. His test average finished at a respectable 30.00, but what is impressive is his list of six centuries in this format with a highest score of 140.
Vettori made 6,989 runs across the three international formats, but bowling was his main job. Here, he claimed 705 wickets for New Zealand, and his total of 362 in test cricket is second only to Richard Hadlee.
A genuine all rounder who could turn a game with bat or ball, Chris Cairns had some real pace and was a power hitting batsman in every format. His natural game suited limited overs cricket, but he also played an effective dual role for New Zealand in tests.
His statistics confirm that he was one of the best all-rounders of his era, not just for New Zealand. Cairns played in 279 international matches between 1989 and 2006. He made over 8,000 runs and also took 420 wickets with best figures of 7/27.
Jacob Oram was a fearsome competitor with bat and ball. Once, after sustaining a finger injury, there was talk of having the digit amputated so that he could be fit for a World Cup. Thankfully, that wasn’t necessary, but the story underlines the type of player he was.
Oram was a power hitting left hander batter who bowled right arm fast medium pace. He was equally successful in both disciplines, scoring over 4,500 international runs with six centuries and a best of 133. Jacob Oram also claimed 252 wickets for New Zealand with best figures of 5/26
Scott Styris was a batting all-rounder, capable of big contributions with the bat, while adding in some useful medium pace. He was an adaptable batter, who was able to play patiently in tests, but could accelerate in the shorter forms and once hit a 37-ball century in England’s T20 Blast.
In New Zealand national colours, Styris did his best work with the bat in hand. He played in 248 international matches across the three formats, scoring over 6,500 runs with nine hundreds and a top score of 170. His slower medium pace was more suited to limited overs cricket, but Styris took 175 wickets overall with outstanding best figures of 6/25.
There are two John Reid’s that played cricket for New Zealand. In terms of great all-rounders, I’m focusing on John Richard Reid who played in 58 test matches between 1949 and 1965.
Reid was one of the Kiwis’ earlier all-round cricketers who ended his career with exceptional figures for his era. He played in 58 tests, scoring 3,428 runs with six hundreds and a top score of 142. John Reid could switch between off spin and faster medium pace, and this combination earned him 85 test wickets with best figures of 6/60.
When we talk about all-rounders in cricket, we usually refer to players who can bat and bowl, but this isn’t always the case. Stephen Fleming was one of the best batsmen that the Kiwis have ever produced, but he was also a great captain.
With bat in hand, he became the first player from New Zealand to pass 7,000 test runs. He might have improved on his final analysis, but he did make important contributions and was a battling batsman on difficult surfaces. As a captain, Stephen Fleming helped to transform the fortunes of New Zealand cricket and he laid a platform that has allowed them to become a serious force in the world game.
Next up we come on to another player who doesn’t bowl. Bradley-John, more commonly known as BJ Watling, makes it onto our list as a wicket keeper / batsman. At a time when Brendon McCullum was giving up the gloves, Watling stepped in to become the team’s first choice stumper for many years.
He was a patient batter and wasn’t always first choice in limited overs games, but Watling did eventually play in 108 internationals across the three formats. He made 4,000 runs, with eight test centuries and a highest score of 205.
This may be another debatable inclusion: Kyle Mills will be remembered for his bowling skills, but was his batting good enough to make him a genuine all-rounder? Mills’ bowling was more than adequate and, while he could never quite cement a position in the test side, he was a regular fixture in ODI teams between 2001 and 2014.
It was in the One Day International arena that Kyle Mills ticked off a respected milestone among all-rounders, scoring over 1000 runs and claiming 100 wickets. He was capable of making late runs at the death and made some useful contributions. Ultimately, Mills played in 231 games for New Zealand across three formats, taking 327 wickets and scoring 1473 runs.
There should certainly be no confusion over the next selection. Grant Elliott could definitely swing a game with bat or ball and he became an important member of the New Zealand squad that made the final of the ODI World Cup in 2015.
In the knockout stage against South Africa, a brilliant late blitz with the bat also proved that Elliott was one of the best finishers with a bat in his hand. He was primarily a limited overs player, but he did play five tests, along with 83 ODIs and 17 T20is.
Grant Elliott made over 2,000 runs across those formats, with two centuries and a top score of 115. His medium pace bowling earned 57 wickets with best figures of 4/22.
I can’t immediately think of too many New Zealand cricketers who might threaten the top of this list in the near future. The team is strong right now and are the reigning World Test Champions as I write, but a genuine all-rounder is the one position in this Kiwi side that is up for grabs.
Daryl Mitchell is a fine batter who bowls only occasionally, while spinner Michael Bracewell has an ODI century and could be the next contender. Jimmy Neesham and Colin de Grandhomme will also have their supporters.
As for the players who are here, they have all made significant contributions to New Zealand cricket with both bat and ball. Many will also appear on the list of best overall Kiwi players and they’ve all played an important role in the country’s development on the cricket field.