Bangalore: I can't for the life of me remember who it was that called New Zealand a team of number sevens. Obviously, it was more appropriate during the Cairns-Harris-Astle-Latham-Larsen-Parore days, when almost everyone in the team could bat a bit, bowl a bit, field remarkably well, and even captain the side (remember Lee Germon?). Indeed, between Martin Crowe and Daniel Vettori, there hasn't really been a single New Zealand cricketer worth talking about. A notable exception was Shane Bond, who strutted his stuff for too short a while. Nathan Astle's 222 against England in 2002 also stands out in my mind as among the great counter-punching innings in recent Test history.
Anyway, that's all in the past. Right now, the New Zealand team wears an even more forlorn look. Partly because the only truly world-class performer in the country - Vettori - isn't around for the Tests. And partly because the current set of players have recently made West Indies look like a champion side. Partly also because Ross Taylor (42.80) is the only batsman in the side averaging more than 40 in Tests.
Mohandas Menon, whom we read so often on Wisden India, informs me that the 1056 No. 7 batsmen in Test history (prior to the Lord's Test between England and South Africa) have a cumulative average of 27.23. The likely New Zealand top six that will play the Tests in India - Taylor, Daniel Flynn, Martin Guptill, Brendon McCullum, Kane Williamson (who has also captained the team) and BJ Watling - averages 34.15 between them. Slightly better than No. 7, but not by much.