These Kiwis could fly

In Part 4 of our ongoing series, we look at New Zealand's highest impact makers in ODIs

Not surprisingly, Hadlee is the top impact maker from his country.

To help us overlook the mediocre New Zealand competition in the current series being played in West Indies, we travel to New Zealand to put its entire ODI cricket history under the Impact Index scanner.

From 1973 to 2012 (before the current series in West Indies), New Zealand played 620 matches and won 268 with a win-loss ratio of 0.85.  Their highest score is 402, lowest 64. They have never won the World Cup, not even reached the final once till date (though they probably should have in 1999). In 2000 though, they did win the ICC Champions Trophy.

We present three lists – of players, batsmen and bowlers. The minimum qualification to be on these lists is to have played 75 matches. A match is considered in this system only when there is a result, and if the player has bowled or batted, as the case may be.

Here are the highest impact ODI players in New Zealand’s history.


Richard Hadlee is the only cricketer from the main 8 Test-playing nations who is the highest impact cricketer in both Tests and ODIs for his country – and so emphatically at that. He is, after all, the 6th highest impact ODI cricketer of all time. The gap between him and the others on this list is immense – what is remarkable about that is that Hadlee has only 1 SD (series/tournament-defining performance) to his credit and did not captain his side either.

That last column gives a cue why he’s still on top – a 16% failure rate denotes the greatest consistency in the history of ODI cricket (for a non-wicketkeeper all-rounder; a wicket-keeper registers an impact for just keeping wickets but Hadlee’s failure rate is even lower than most wicket-keepers, which is awe-inspiring). His 1 SD is also somewhat misleading, as he actually was one of the highest impact players in ODI history when it came to big matches – it’s just that his team did not win enough (despite his otherwise high impact performances).

The father-son pair of Chris Cairns and Lance Cairns as the 2nd and 3rd highest impact players in their country’s history is completely unique too. Both were all-rounders, though the son was a considerably better batsman. And a far more successful big match player (4 more SDs than his father) – but the father also played in an era where his country did not win that much as a team. 

Nathan Astle’s 6 SDs mark him out as the biggest series/tournament-defining player in his country’s ODI history – something that is perhaps not otherwise known. His failure rate of 41% (quite high for a near-all-rounder) gives further cues to why he’s not higher on this list.

New Zealand’s highest impact batsman Martin Crowe is also one of the most successful captains the Kiwis ever had – his innovative experiments still inspire free-thinking individuals in the game. New Zealand’s second- highest impact bowler Shane Bond’s presence on this list despite not having a single SD is a testament to his consistency and perhaps the biggest casualty of modern cricket politics in the game.

Veritable statesman Stephen Fleming is the most successful Kiwi captain in history, besides his country’s most capped player. That he is also one of the highest impact batsmen for his country is less of a surprise than his being the second-highest impact Kiwi fielder in ODI cricket (after Ross Taylor).

There are 5 current players in this list which does not augur badly for New Zealand at all, despite the somewhat tepid performance of their team in West Indies right now.

There is just one current-day player in the list of their highest impact 10 batsmen though.

Crowe is ahead of Astle as the most impactful ODI batsman.

Despite just 2 SDs (which actually is quite creditable given what the team of his era achieved), Martin Crowe very comfortably tops his country’s Batting IMPACT charts. He is outstanding in every aspect of batting as this chart shows, not least of which is consistency and the sheer volume of runs he contributed. When it comes to chasing, in fact, he has the 2nd-highest impact in the history of ODI cricket (after Virat Kohli).

Astle shows up here too as his country’s best big match player – by quite some distance (which takes him right up the list here). His relatively high failure rate once again keeps him from touching stratospheric heights though.

Andrew Jones would be better remembered as a solid Test match no. 3 batsman but it is instructive to see him amongst New Zealand’s three highest impact ODI batsmen – and to see the high proportion of runs he made (the second-highest on this list). 

Roger Twose remains one of the most underrated players in modern cricket history. No batsman in the history of ODI cricket from any country absorbed more pressure than him. Easily his country’s finest middle-order ODI batsman, the high proportion of runs he made with impressive consistency, and his ability to bat at his best regularly while chasing targets made him one of the most important figures for his country when New Zealand reached heights it never reached in any other phase before or since (1998-2001).

Jeremy Coney and Chris Cairns are the two all-rounders who feature on this list – both notable for their high Pressure IMPACT. Something Ross Taylor has been good at too – it is perhaps just a matter of time before he opens the account in his SD column (he also needs to get his failure rate down). It is remarkable that Chris Cairns actually has 2 SDs purely as a batsman.

Former captains Fleming and Ken Rutherford make this list too – they both led from the front, particularly Fleming, who did it for a long time too, and has 2 SDs to show for it as well.

NOTE: If the cut-off is lowered to 50 matches (from 75), Martin Guptill and Bruce Edgar make the above list in positions 8th and 9th respectively.

The stories that unfold on various batting parameters are revealing.

When it comes to Runs Tally IMPACT (proportion of match runs made through career), the highest impact batsmen are Martin Crowe, Andrew Jones and Roger Twose. 

The highest Strike Rate IMPACT batsmen (highest strike rates relative to all the matches in their careers) are Lance Cairns, Richard Hadlee and Brendan McCullum. (Lance Cairns is very significant here – his Strike Rate IMPACT is the 5th highest in the history of ODI cricket, ahead of the likes of Jayasuriya and Kapil Dev.)

The best Pressure IMPACT batsmen (those who absorbed the most pressure that came about due to fall of wickets) are Roger Twose, Jeremy Coney, Chris Cairns (they are also the highest in world ODI history).

The batsmen with the highest Partnership Building IMPACT (who built the most partnerships in the middle) are Martin Crowe, Andrew Jones and Roger Twose.

The best Chasing IMPACT batsmen (who registered the highest impact while chasing a target) are Martin Crowe, Roger Twose and Stephan Fleming.

The batsmen with the lowest failure rates (a failure is seen in this system as an inability to register an IMPACT of even 1 in a match) are Martin Crowe, Roger Twose and Jeremy Coney.

The Highest Impact Batting Performances in New Zealand’s ODI history

1. MD Crowe – 52 not out off 57 v Sri Lanka, Moratuwa, 1984 – Batting IMPACT 9.68

Going into this match, New Zealand needed a win to level the 2-match ODI series after having lost their earlier encounter in Colombo. The start was good for the New Zealanders with the Sri Lankans getting bundled out for 114 runs in a rain-curtailed 41 overs match. New Zealand however collapsed to 19-2. Martin Crowe came in at a time when the conditions were tricky and held the innings together with an attacking half century. Eventually, New Zealand won with seven wickets to spare and it could have been an entirely different story had Crowe not played such a significant part. The struggle of the other batsmen can be seen from the fact that they collectively scored 56 runs off 140 runs.

2. NJ Astle – 122 not out off 150 v England, Dunedin, 2002 – Batting IMPACT 8.46

With the series tied at 2-2, England, after opting to bat first, posted a meagre 218 runs. New Zealand had a strong start to their chase with Astle racing off to his 50 in 42 balls when suddenly a mini collapse reduced New Zealand from 55-0 to 80-3. Astle adapted accordingly and his next 50 came off another 82 balls. There was a mini scare again at the end with New Zealand losing two wickets in a space of four balls to fall to 180-5 but Astle took charge again and took New Zealand to a series victory.

3. MD Crowe – 57 not out off 98 v Pakistan, Auckland, 1992 – Batting IMPACT 7.13

Pakistan after being put into bat by New Zealand collapsed for a paltry score of 139 to give the latter a chance to clinch the three match ODI series. New Zealand in reply fell to 34-2 and in stepped Martin Crowe against a bowling attack comprising the likes of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis. Soon, the situation worsened to 45-3 and Crowe provided the stability and the composure to halt his team’s slide further and went on to craft a painstaking half century under testing conditions to take his team home.

The above performances are all within the series/tournament context. The highest impact batting performance within a match context in New Zealand’s ODI history is Nathan Astle’s 117 off 150 v India (Colombo, 2001). Stephen Fleming’s unbeaten 77 off 92 v Sri Lanka (Auckland, 2004) and Martin Crowe’s 105 not out off 105 v England (Auckland 1984) are the next highest impact innings within a match context.

And these are the bowlers who helped New Zealand do that much better over the years.

Richard Hadlee topping this chart should bring no surprises. That high Economy IMPACT (6th-highest in the history of ODI cricket) only somewhat echoed by Chatfield, Larsen and Vettori but the Wickets IMPACT columns taking Hadlee ahead of them all.

Shane Bond’s staggering Wickets IMPACT – the highest in the history of ODI cricket takes him to stratospheric heights – the tragedy of his short career even more highlighted by the “0” in his SD column (in fact, if you take away big match performances, he is the highest impact bowler in the history of ODI cricket). He simply did not play enough to have sufficient impact on New Zealand’s ODI cricket.

Kyle Mills is the big surprise here – especially when he is not extraordinary at all in economy and big match performance. His hallmark is his low failure rate – that consistency comes from his propensity to take wickets regularly – only Shane Bond has taken more wickets than him proportionately.

Ewen Chatfield’s and Jacob Oram’s restrictive ability (high Economy IMPACT) and Martin Snedden’s propensity to take wickets (high Wickets IMPACT) put them on this list.

Daniel Vettori is, not surprisingly, the only spinner on this list. It is perhaps curious that he has been unimpressive on wicket-taking ability though, and has quite a high failure rate. His impressive Economy IMPACT is what gets him on this list (and that solitary SD performance).

Chris Cairns is the only player to make all 3 lists – he makes this one, despite a relatively low Wickets and Economy IMPACT, for his 2 SDs – a remarkable achievement for any player to have 2 SDs each for specialist performances. In fact, no other bowler in New Zealand’s history has a better big match track-record as Chris Cairns.

NOTE: Lance Cairns has 74 bowling innings and he narrowly misses this list for that reason as the cut-off is 75. He would come 8th on this list otherwise, just ahead of his son. If the cut-off is lowered to 50 matches (from 75), Willie Watson and Chris Pringle make the above list in positions 4th and 5th respectively.

The highest impact players in all bowling parameters are quite revealing, as always.

When it comes to Top/Middle-order Wickets Tally IMPACT (wickets taken from nos. 1-7 in most cases), the highest impact bowlers are Shane Bond, Kyle Mills and Richard Hadlee.

Lower-order Wickets Tally IMPACT (batsmen nos. 8-11) – highest impact bowlers are Shane Bond, Richard Hadlee and Jacob Oram.

The highest Economy IMPACT bowlers (lowest economy rates relative to all the matches in their careers) are Richard Hadlee, Gavin Larsen and Ewen Chatfield.

The highest impact Partnership-breaking bowlers are Martin Snedden, Daniel Vettori and Chris Harris. (Snedden, in fact, has the highest Partnership-breaking IMPACT in the history of ODI cricket.)

The bowlers with the highest Pressure Building IMPACT (taking quick wickets to put opposition under pressure) are Shane Bond, Daniel Vettori and Kyle Mills.  (Bond, in fact, is the highest impact in ODI history in this aspect.)

The bowlers with the lowest failure rate (a failure is seen in this system as an inability to register an IMPACT of even 1 in a match) are Kyle Mills, Richard Hadlee and Shane Bond.

The Highest Impact Bowling Performances in New Zealand’s ODI history

Interestingly, all 3 performances here are by bowlers who many feel have underachieved in their careers, given the potential they had shown here.

1. DL Vettori – 5 for 30 in 9.2 overs v West Indies, London, 2004 – Bowling IMPACT 7.32

In this Natwest series final encounter, New Zealand after batting first, posted a competitive score of 266 for the West Indians to chase. Even though the West Indian chase was not making steady headway, the match was pretty much even with Brian Lara still there at the crease. However, Vettori’s introduction sparked a middle order collapse and from 105-3, West Indies crashed to 159 all out. Out of those seven wickets, five were taken by Vettori which led to New Zealand winning their first ever Natwest trophy.

2. SB Doull – 4 for 25 in 8 overs v Australia, Auckland, 1998 – Bowling IMPACT 4.81

Hardly does anyone expect a New Zealand team to pull off a series heist against Australia and this instance was no different. Trailing 1-2 in the four match ODI series, they were up against a superior Australian unit. Their first innings performance also didn’t inspire any confidence and they ended up getting only 223 runs. In reply, Australia breezed to 26-0 in 4 overs when Simon Doull struck, with the wicket of Mark Waugh; soon he got Ponting as well to reduce Australia to 48-2. When he came back for his last spell, Australia were at 183-7 and Michael Bevan had started to pull the strings yet again for another quintessential fightback. However, this time Doull accounted for Bevan and Robertson to seal the match in New Zealand’s favour. 

3. SB O’Connor – 5 for 46 in 9.2 overs v Pakistan, Nairobi, 2000 – Bowling IMPACT 4.79

Shane O’Connor’s series defining performance in this match can be considered as one of the most definitive and important bowling spells in New Zealand’s ODI history. In this first semi-final encounter in the ICC Champions Trophy 2000, Pakistan after electing to bat first had got off to a blazing start scoring 55-0 in the first 9 overs. O’Connor took out Imran Nazir in the 10th over to reduce Pakistan to 59-1 but failed to provide any other breakthroughs. When he came back for his final spell, Pakistan were at 237-6; ready to explode in their final five overs. O’Connor instead cleaned up their lower middle order alongwith the tail and from 237-6, Pakistan slipped to 252 all out. In reply, New Zealand managed to chase down the total which eventually led to them winning their first ICC trophy (their only world trophy till date). 

The above performances are all within the series/tournament context. The highest impact bowling performance within a match context in New Zealand’s ODI history is Shane Bond’s 6-19 v India (Bulawayo, 2005). Bond’s 6-23 v Australia (Port Elizabeth, 2003) and Daniel Vettori’s 5-30 v West Indies (London, 2004) are the next highest impact bowling performances in a match context.

More in the series — the greatest impact makers from:

1) Pakistan 2) West Indies 3) Australia

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