Andrew Alderson

Andrew Alderson is a sport writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Cricket: Sinclair runs could be veteran's last

Matthew Sinclair of the Stags bats during the Plunket Shield match between the Auckland Aces and the Central Stags. Photo / Getty Images
Matthew Sinclair of the Stags bats during the Plunket Shield match between the Auckland Aces and the Central Stags. Photo / Getty Images

Mathew Sinclair remains undecided whether he will continue his prolific cricketing career into next season.

The 36-year-old's efforts in the first-class game, which concluded this week with his Central Districts team's win over Northern Districts at Napier, are worthy of note. Sinclair has moved into the first XI of highest run scorers in New Zealand first-class history this season, despite having never played for any team (other than New Zealand) overseas. He went on just one overseas tour which included a regular diet of first-class fixtures - to England in 2008.

Every other player in the top 11 New Zealand run-scorers has spent a considerable part of their career either immersed in the English or South African first-class scene or on tours to England, South Africa or the sub-continent which could consume the better part of a year (in previous generations). Sinclair has scored 13,071 first-class runs with an average of 49.13.

That leaves him sitting behind Martin Crowe (56.02), Verdun Scott (49.73) and Glenn Turner (49.70) on the all time list of New Zealanders with over 3000 first-class runs.

Sinclair has a better first-class average than legends like Martin Donnelly (47.43) and Bert Sutcliffe (47.41). Sinclair last averaged below 50 for a season in 2006-07 yet has only played six tests since, the last against Australia in 2010.

The cynical will say such success reflects weaknesses in the New Zealand first-class system but Sinclair's desire for runs has been unrelenting. Even this season he has made the most runs of any domestic player (809 at 53.93).

In fairness to New Zealand's selection panels in the last five years, Sinclair could never return to the heights where he made two double centuries and a 150 within the first 12 of his 33 tests. In a quirk of trivia, Sinclair had the highest test average at the turn of the 21st century after making 214 on debut in the 1999 Boxing Day test against the West Indies.

- Herald on Sunday

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