From the BLACKCAPS at the World Cup to the WHITE FERNS taking the points in every ICC Championship series they played, 2015 has been a pretty incredible year for cricket in New Zealand. To celebrate that, we’ve compiled our top 15 performances from New Zealand’s international cricketers.
While we are a museum and we like to deal in facts, this list is subjective and has been picked with a few things in mind. This includes stats, records and, simply, the way some of these performances made us (and you, go on, admit it) feel. If we could, we’d analyse the numbers of how many strangers hugged in celebration of each moment to measure that last, warm fuzzy, criteria.
>> Morna Nielsen’s 5 for 21 against Sri Lanka
When Morna Nielsen was brought on to bowl in the WHITE FERNS’ 4th ODI against Sri Lanka in November, she was the 6th bowler used by captain Suzie Bates. Sri Lanka had worked their way to 86 for 3 and were handily placed to compile a competitive target. From that point, the WHITE FERNS’ left-arm spinner ripped through the opposition, claiming 5 for 21 as Sri Lanka were bowled out for 126. Bates and Amy Satterthwaite were untroubled in passing that, giving the WHITE FERNS their second 10-wicket win of the series and a 4-0 lead. Morna’s figures were the second best by a woman in ODIs in 2015, one of just three ODI 5-wicket bags for a New Zealander this year, and they helped ensure Morna will finish the year as the world’s #11 ranked ODI bowler.
>> Martin Guptill goes ballistic (again)
Martin Guptill made a late charge to get on this list, but what a charge it was. In comparison with what was to come in game two, the BLACKCAPS win in the opening ODI of their 2015-16 series against Sri Lanka was pretty sedate. It proved an excellent warm-up for Martin Guptill, though, as he top-scored with 79 in New Zealand’s 7-wicket win at Hagley Oval. Returning to the same venue, just two days later, Christchurch cricket fans must have felt a sense of deja-vu as Sri Lanka again struggled to a low total. Although that would ensure a short game – shorter than a T20 even – the fans were lucky enough to see Guptill go ‘next-level’. His 30-ball innings looked like this:
For those not counting along at home, that’s 93* off 30 balls (plus a wide), including eight 6s and nine 4s for a strike rate of 310. His first 50 runs came off just 17 balls, setting a new BLACKCAPS’ record and sitting behind only AB de Villiers 16-ball effort from January 2015 on the all-time list.
>> Daniel Vettori’s ridicu-catch against the West Indies
The day after the BLACKCAPS’ World Cup quarter-final victory over West Indies was a particularly busy one at the New Zealand Cricket Museum. In spite of an incredible performance from Martin Guptill (more on that later), there was only one moment from the match that anyone wanted to talk about. After the BLACKCAPS posted 393 for 5, the West Indies came out intent on giving the unlikely chase a pretty good shake. With the score at 80 for 2 after just 9 overs, Trent Boult ran in to bowl at Marlon Samuels, already on 27 off just 14 balls. The ball was short and outside off so Samuels upper-cut it behind point. Those at the game will tell you it looked like six all the way. They’ll also tell you that Daniel Vettori, belying his fragile 36-year-old frame, leapt high and one-handed to take the greatest, most unlikely catch you’ll ever see. It was easily the biggest talking point the day after the night before.
>> Suzie Bates’ 106 against England
When England arrived in New Zealand for their ODI series against the WHITE FERNS in February 2105, they could rightly feel confident having not lost to the home side in five years. In the opening ODI, the New Zealand side would right that wrong. After losing the toss and being sent in to bat, Suzie Bates and Rachel Priest put on 157 for the first wicket. While the fall of Priest saw a steady stream of wickets fall, Bates kept going at the other end. When she was finally dismissed, she had scored 106 of the WHITE FERNS’ 178 runs. The home side would finish on 240 for 8 before bowling England out for 173 to draw first blood in the ICC Women’s Championship series. It was Bates’ 6th ODI century and one of just five scored by women in ODIs this year.
>> Trent Boult’s World Cup 5-wicket bag against Australia
In all honesty, we could put Trent Boult on this list for the couple of balls he survived from the fired-up Mitchell Starc that helped the BLACKCAPS to a 1-wicket win in Auckland. But, in his own masterful display of fast-bowling, it was his 5-wicket bag that set up the match for New Zealand. From the memories of 1992 to the awarding of a place in the ICC Hall of Fame to Martin Crowe between innings, this game was built around emotion. With Australia having got off to a flier, Brendon McCullum slowed things down with the miserly Daniel Vettori. After Vettori dismissed captain-in-waiting Steve Smith with the score at 96, Boult got into his work. By the time Australia had scored another ten runs, Boult had five wickets and the crowd were in full voice. There were a few more twists and turns, including a brutal early attack from McCullum, but, in the end, Boult returned with the bat to help Kane Williamson, the other hero of the day, seal an historic World Cup win.
>> Suzie Bates, Rachel Priest, & Amy Satterthwaite hit 100-run partnerships
WHITE FERNS players hit seven ODI partnerships worth 100+ runs in 2015 and all of these stands involved some combination of Rachel Priest, Suzie Bates, and Amy Satterthwaite. Even more impressive is the fact that they were all for the first or second wicket, and Priest & Bates’ 196 against Sri Lanka in November was the highest partnership in women’s ODIs this year. That particular pairing have enjoyed an especially prolific year: their personal runs’ tallies for 2015 are the best by any WHITE FERNS’ players outside a World Cup year. Priest (592 runs in 2015) and Bates (585) sit 3rd and 4th for the highest scoring calendar year by any WHITE FERNS player.
>> Luke Ronchi & Grant Elliott hit a World Record 6th-wicket partnership
Grant Elliott and Luke Ronchi took their form from Wellington’s Georgie Pie Super Smash title win and multiplied it for the BLACKCAPS in their Dunedin ODI against Sri Lanka. As is so often the case with World Record partnerships, the pair came together with New Zealand in trouble at 93 for 5. When the 50th over was complete, the BLACKCAPS would sit on 360 for 5 – a mammoth partnership of 267. Ronchi would contribute 170 of the partnership’s runs, his maiden ODI ton. After bringing up his century off just 74 balls, he plundered 70 runs off his next 25. While Elliott was more sedate – his century came off 93 balls – he was no less effective in finishing on 104*. Elliott would also take 2 wickets as the BLACKCAPS won by 108 runs.
>> Tim Southee takes 7 for 33 against England
It’s fair to say England didn’t have the greatest World Cup. It’d also be fair to say a lot of that was due to the BLACKCAPS. In their pool match at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium, Tim Southee took the new ball and claimed the wickets of Ian Bell and Moeen Ali in his opening spell. While both were clean bowled by exceptional deliveries, it was just a hint of what was to come. With Trent Boult and Daniel Vettori each claiming a wicket, England struggled to 104 for 4 before Brendon McCullum brought Southee back for another crack. That short, sharp spell would look like this in the scorebook:
.W…2 | W1.W11 | .2.W.. | 1.W11.
Five wickets for 10 runs in four overs. Adam Milne would take the last wicket as England were bowled out for just 123 in 33.2 overs. Southee’s final analysis read 7 wickets for 33 runs off 9 overs – the best ODI figures in New Zealand history. In spite of a strangely-timed dinner break, McCullum would play a typically belligerent innings (77 off just 25) to ensure New Zealand cruised home by 8 wickets in the 13th over.
>> BJ Watling & Kane Williamson combine for a World Record 6th-wicket partnership
BJ Watling doesn’t mind playing at the Basin Reserve. He’s also quite fond of World Records. During 2015’s Test against Sri Lanka at the ground, he hit his second World Record partnership for the sixth wicket. The previous record of 352 was set during Watling’s last innings at the Basin. On that occasion, he was part of another chapter in New Zealand cricketing history as Brendon McCullum hit our first Test triple century during a drawn match against India. This year, Watling combined with 2015 superstar, Kane Williamson, for 365 runs which helped the BLACKCAPS to a Test and series victory over Sri Lanka. It also ensured that the freshly-laid plaque celebrating the 2014 record was, perhaps, the quickest memorial ever to become outdated.
>> Sophie Devine hits the fastest T20I 50
In the opening T20I of the WHITE FERNS’ series in India, the home side set, what appeared to be, a respectable target of 125. Thanks to the blade of WHITE FERNS’ captain Sophie Devine (standing in for Suzie Bates), it would prove to be woefully inadequate. Devine came in after in-form opener, Rachel Priest, was dismissed in the first over. Instead of this starting a wobble, it signalled an onslaught. Over the next four and a half overs, Devine would hit eight 6s and five 4s on her way to 70 off just 22 balls – an innings that included the fastest T20I 50 by any woman or any New Zealander, coming from 18 balls. While she would fall short of the target, her partnership with Amy Satterthwaite for the second wicket saw 89 runs at a rate of 19.07 runs per over, enough to set up an 8-wicket win with more than seven overs to spare.
>> Rachel Priest in the WHITE FERNS’ ODI series v Sri Lanka
When you look back at the international cricket played by New Zealand in 2015, there are two real stand-outs for consistency and world class form: Kane Williamson and Rachel Priest. In Priest’s case, that form really shone through during the WHITE FERNS’ November series against Sri Lanka where the only thing that could stop her was a demotion down the batting order. In the opening ODI of the series, Priest hit her maiden international century with 108 off 116 balls. In the second ODI she was unbeaten on 51* as the WHITE FERNS chased down Sri Lanka’s total of 126 without loss. But, in spite of these two great knocks, Rachel saved her best for last as she smashed 157 off 146 balls in the third ODI. The 23 4s she hit in that innings is a record for a woman in an ODI, while 157 is the second-highest ODI score by a WHITE FERN. In the last two ODIs, Sri Lanka got a break from Priest as she dropped down the order and wasn’t required to bat.
>> Martin Guptill blasts 237* against the West Indies
As mentioned earlier, Daniel Vettori’s one-handed outfield grab was the talking point of this match but it was the effort of Martin Guptill with the bat that the record books will remember. Guptill was a man in form ahead of this knock-out quarter-final, having hit 105 against Bangladesh in the previous match, but few could’ve imagined what would come next. Guptill’s innings of 237* was the BLACKCAPS first ODI double-century, the highest score in a World Cup, the second-highest ODI score ever, and he hit a ball onto the Westpac Stadium roof for the second time. That’s once more than batting coach, Craig McMillan, managed in his career, sparking a unique celebration. Across the tournament, Guptill would amass 547 runs (more than any New Zealander has ever managed and more than anyone else in this tournament) – a tally that helped him on his way to the title of the highest run-scorer in ODIs in 2015.
>> Ross Taylor hits 290 against Australia at Perth
The sense of anticipation around the BLACKCAPS’ 2015 tour to Australia was as big as for any Test series involving New Zealand in recent years. After the disappointment of the opening Test loss in Brisbane, fans were hoping for better in Perth. They certainly got it in Ross Taylor. Although the match was drawn, Taylor put on one of the most incredible individual performances ever seen by a BLACKCAPS’ batsman. After Australia scored 559 for 9 declared in the first innings, New Zealand were facing a massive amount of work just to get back to even. When Martin Guptill fell in the third over and Kane Williamson started yet another classy innings, it looked like the story of the Test could once again be written around him. Enter Ross Taylor. The pair put on 265 for the third wicket – a record for New Zealand against Australia – and, after Williamson fell for 166, Taylor just kept on knocking down the records. When he was finally dismissed for 290 he had set a new record for New Zealand against Australia and broken a 112-year-old record for the highest score by a visiting batsman in Australia. Those stats go just a small way to helping describe just how good this innings was.
>> Grant Elliott’s six against South Africa in the World Cup semi-final
We could call this ‘the moment that sparked a thousand hugs’, as Grant Elliott’s semi-final-winning six launched people at Eden Park and all around New Zealand out of their seats and into the arms of strangers. Played between two teams who had enjoyed their fair share of World Cup disappointment and heartache, this match was full of drama from the outset. South Africa’s innings, played around a rain delay, was built on a stoic knock from Faf du Plessis and a typically audacious one from AB de Villiers. The rain that interrupted the innings saw South Africa’s 281 for 5 off 43 overs turn into a total of 298 in 43 for the BLACKCAPS. As he did all tournament, Brendon McCullum set the tone for New Zealand’s reply with a rapid 50, while Corey Anderson chimed in with a half century of his own. The story of this match, however, was Grant Elliott. Seemingly a forgotten man a couple of months out from the tournament starting, Elliott went from strength-to-strength after making the final cut in the World Cup squad. He would top-score in the semi-final with 84*, but there is just one shot that will be remembered. With Dale Steyn bowling the game’s final over, New Zealand had reduced the equation to five runs required off two balls. Then, Steyn bowled a length ball with Elliott backed deep into his crease, and one clean swing saw the ball hit cleanly into the crowd over wide long-on. Cue pandemonium. The moment was made even more poetic with Elliott’s touching gesture to reach out to the prone Dale Steyn just moments after his historic strike.
You can see Grant Elliott’s World Cup bat and runners-up medal at the New Zealand Cricket Museum this summer.
>> Kane Williamson, all year, all formats
There’s not much that hasn’t been written about Kane Williamson in 2015, so we’ll keep this brief:
- More Test runs in a year than any BLACKCAP before;
- More Test centuries in a year than any other BLACKCAP before;
- More international runs in a year than any BLACKCAP before;
- More international centuries in a year than any other BLACKCAP before;
- The first New Zealander with 1000 ODI and 1000 Test runs in the same year;
- In 2015 he became the 4th highest run-scorer in a calendar year across all formats, ever.
We’ve very deliberately presented this in no particular order, which performance stands out for you as New Zealand’s best in 2015?