McCullum and Southee earn peers' regard

01:43, Jan 31 2009

New Zealand's first class cricketers rate Brendon McCullum as the best player in the country and Tim Southee as the most promising.

Eighty-seven current New Zealand first class players were asked to fill in a survey at the end of the season. The findings were released yesterday by the Cricket Players Association.

Surveying players was a system first employed in Australian rugby league circles, and one that used to raise interesting topics such as most over-rated player in the NRL and most disliked.

This one was far more circumspect, with McCullum winning the supreme award as "Players' Player of the Year". He also got the most votes for best wicketkeeper and best one-day batsman.

Southee was voted the up and comer while Jamie How was considered by his peers as the best fielder in the land . The other individual awards went to Daniel Vettori (best test and one-day bowler) and Stephen Fleming as best test batsman.

The other feedback the players gave was that Tony Hill was the country's best umpire - not something that Billy Bowden will be thrilled to hear; that Mark Perham at Eden Park was the top groundsman and that the Basin Reserve was the players' favourite ground. There was a flea in the ear for the Basin as well, however, with players bemoaning the quality of its off-field facilities.


No surprises for the prize for the worst pitch - Dunedin's University Oval - while QEII in Christchurch was slammed as a pig of a venue despite its pitch being good.

The players were also asked to give their opinions on a range of topics in relation to the game in general.

Around 90 per cent said New Zealand Cricket was running the game well; 81 per cent said the first class competition (State Championship) should be contested over 10 rounds; while 72 per cent said they were motivated to perform by the prospect of securing a contract with one of the Indian Twenty20 leagues.

NZCPA Executive Manager Heath Mills said the players' views were crucial in shaping the cricketing environment and should be listened to.

"Their feedback on many aspects of the New Zealand cricketing landscape provides an insight for all those involved in cricket in New Zealand."


The Dominion Post