There are a select group of New Zealand cricketers whose careers for one brief moment took them to the pinnacle of the sport in this country.

These are the "one test wonders" - and we celebrate them because for that one moment in their lives they were the best this country could produce for the international stage.

They are the conduit between those who go on to revered test careers… and the rest of us who toil at club or social level long after such dreams have passed.

Herald writers David Leggat, Chris Rattue, Cameron McMillan and Andrew Alderson give an insight into some of these men - they spoke to many of them and hear of their experience for better or worse, and how they feel looking through hindsight's lens.


There are 30 in total, 14 who are alive, and 12 who are retired. This is the story of one of those players.

David Sewell
Age: 40
New Zealand test cricketer number: 203
Played: Zimbabwe at Bulawayo, September 25-29, 1997
Return: 1 run and 0-90

'Picked too early'. That would be the pub chatter around North Otago of the short test career of local boy David Sewell.

Maybe 'Right place, wrong timing' is a better working title for his test biography, which wouldn't be a long read. As a 19-year-old the Otago left-arm paceman was chosen for his one and only test match on the 1997 tour of Zimbabwe. He was part of the New Zealand academy tour to South Africa when Andrew Penn left the Black Caps squad due to injury. Instead of sending someone over from New Zealand, coach Steve Rixon decided to pick the youngster.

He wasn't expected to get a test cap in the two-match series against a strong Zimbabwe side which featured the likes of the Flower brothers, Alistair Campbell, Paul Strang and Heath Streak. But when Heath Davis produced a staggering 24 no balls in the first test draw Harare, in what would be his final test appearance, Sewell got the call-up in Bulawayo and became the 16th New Zealander to make their test debut before the age of 20.

Manager Dayle Hadlee told Sewell that he was to join the squad but the conversion was tinged with sadness.

"It was actually a really bittersweet conversation because my Granddad had just passed away. So Dayle said, 'I've got two lots of news for you.' Mum and Dad had been trying to get hold of me. I had some mixed feelings, it's fair to say," Sewell told the Otago Daily Times recently.

Sewell was handed the new ball and opened the bowling alongside Otago teammate and fellow left-armer Shayne O'Connor but failed to take a wicket in the first innings as Zimbabwe made 461 all out. He went wicketless again in the second innings as Daniel Vettori and Chris Harris shared the bulk of the overs. Sewell finished with career figures of 0-90.


"I was excited but quite nervous. Looking back, I didn't bowl that well. I tried a bit hard, and I had all sorts of advice from senior players. I ran in and tried to bowl a million miles an hour," he told the Otago Daily Times recently.

"But it was a great experience. The conditions were tough, and it was hot. And at that time, Zimbabwe were quite strong and they enjoyed playing at home. It was hard work and a wee bit frustrating."

"It would obviously have been nice to get a wicket to get my confidence up. The funny thing is I got one run when I batted and I was not out, so I don't have a batting average and I don't have a bowling average."

The Black Caps were left to chase 286 for a series win and were 275 for eight when stumps were drawn on day five just 12 runs short of a win. Sewell was the last man left waiting in the sheds.

He wasn't selected for the next tour to Australia, and never represented New Zealand again.

Sewell, now an electrician in Rolleston, went on to play 10 seasons for Otago, finishing with 218 wickets and an average of 28.72 before retiring at age 28. However he continued to play club cricket and at the Hawke Cup level for North Otago including a historic victory over Manawatu in 2010 to claim the prestigious trophy for the region.

The one test wonders series:
Stuart Gillespie - 'I had visions of carrying the drinks'
Andre Adams - 'Your country needs you'
Peter Truscott - A vote shy of another test
Andy McKay - Dismissing the Little Master
Gary Robertson - The one wicket that shouldn't have been
David Sewell - No average performance
Rodney Redmond - One of the great one-test careers
Greg Loveridge - The bowler who never bowled
Michael Mason - 'An experience you'll never forget'
Ian Leggat - A minute in the middle
Richard Jones - A Christmas call-up
Bruce Morrison - The call that finally came