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Adam Parore: New Zealand’s old-school wicketkeeper and a colorful character

Adam Parore © Getty Images
Adam Parore © Getty Images

Adam Parore, born on January 24, 1971 was a fine wicketkeeper and an able batsman for New Zealand in the 1990s. He was also known a rebel who had his fair share of run-ins with the New Zealand establishment. Bharath Ramaraj has more…

Before Adam Gilchrist decoded the keys of being a successful batsman, twinned with fine skills as a wicketkeeper, national selectors tended to plump more for genuine wicketkeepers with surgical-like precision behind the stumps. There was Les Ames of England way back in the 19th century and a few years ago before Gilchrist stamped his authority on the world game, Andy Flower was already a fine batsman-cum wicketkeeper. But it was more of an anomaly those days.

New Zealand’s wicketkeeper, Adam Parore born on January 23, 1971, was your quintessential old- school glove-man. He was neat behind the stumps and more importantly, passed the trial by fire for any wicketkeeper by not allowing too many byes to go by. Yes, he had a good enough orthodox technique to make invaluable contributions for New Zealand with the willow. But it was his neat wicketkeeping skills that made the writer glued to his Television set.

It has been ages (26 years) since he played for Auckland U-19 XI against a talented but inexperienced Indian Under-19 setup, and made his mark with four neatly effected dismissals. Now, that was the time when New Zealand’s cricket cognoscenti wondered with Parore’s chronometric precision as a wicketkeeper would see him replace the veteran, Ian Smith in the New Zealand side, in the years to come. He soon made his Test debut against England at Birmingham, Edgbaston in 1990, more on the back of promise rather than superlative performances in domestic cricket. In fact, with Tony Blain still making waves in domestic circuit, Parore had to fight for his place even after Smith’s retirement.

Arguably, Parore’s path-breaking moment came during New Zealand’s tour of Sri Lanka in 1992.

With a few senior players having deserted the New Zealand camp due to a terrible bomb blast that hit Colombo, Parore had to stand up to the plate and come to the party in alien conditions. In the Test match played at Colombo (SSC), he with his rock-solid technique weathered Sri Lanka’s spinners by essaying a knock of 60. He followed it by passing the gargantuan task of keeping wickets on slow and low tracks by effecting five dismissals.

Adam Parore was known for his sharp catching behind the stumps © Getty Images
Adam Parore was known for his sharp catching behind the stumps © Getty Images

However, with the changing dynamics of the game, there were still question marks over his batting skills. It was obvious that he had a fine technique to hold his own lower down the order for New Zealand team. But the runs weren’t really flowing from his willow. It all changed in 1995 at Lancaster Park, Christchurch. With Courtney Walsh, Curtly Ambrose and Benjamins threatening to blow away a feeble looking New Zealand line-up tethering on the verge of falling apart like nine pins, Parore was in his elements with the bat. With a masterful technique, he steadied the ship and took them to a semblance of safety with a mettlesome innings. Curiously, for someone who had a fine technique as a batsman, it turned out to be his only Test hundred.

But it is the next Test against the West Indies that this writer rekindles fondly. In a game in which West Indian batsmen plundered runs with their flashing blades to rack up 660 for 5 declared, Parore didn’t concede even a single bye during the innings. In the annals of cricket, his glittering achievement still stands at No 4 slot among highest totals made without the keeper conceding a single bye. It takes unwavering concentration prowess to achieve such a monumental feat.

By the end of that year though, New Zealand selectors were in a selection conundrum, as wicketkeeper, Lee Germon was appointed as the captain of the team. It meant that Parore had to play as a pure batsman, and one could see that he was uncomfortable of batting at No 3 slot.

Parore, never known as a yes man had his fair share of problems too, especially during the iron-fisted regime of Glenn Turner and Lee Germon. There were problems brewing underneath during New Zealand’s tour of India in 1995 which exploded when the squad travelled to the Caribbean Islands to play a Test and ODI series, the following year. Both Chris Cairns and Parore were said to have faked injuries to walk out from the tour mid-way.

Interestingly, once Turner left, Parore became one of the core group of senior players who supported Stephen Fleming in his role as the captain to the hilt.

Parore, especially in his earlier days was a decent ODI batsman as well. During New Zealand’s ill-fated tour of South Africa in 1994-95, he was one of the few players who stood tall amongst the ruins. He showed the other side of his batting by carving out an aggressive innings of 108 off just 95 balls in the ODI at Centurion Park against South Africa. Those days, a strike-rate of over 100 was almost unheard off.

By the dawn of the new century though, his prowess were on the wane and as a result, the Test match at Eden Park, Auckland against England in 2002 turned out to be his last. In a fitting send off to one of New Zealand’s greatest servants, skipper, Fleming elevated him to open the innings and what more, they scripted a memorable win to draw the series 1-1.

The 204 dismissals he effected for his country, still stands as a New Zealand record. He though,won’t exactly be proud of the fact that he also holds the record for scoring the most runs without essaying a single boundary to his name. It came against India at Baroda in the Wills tri-series in 1994-95. Just like most other wicketkeepers, he was chirpy behind the stumps too.

Since retirement, Parore has gone onto become the managing director of a financial services firm called Adam Parore Mortgages. Another intriguing facet of him is that in May 2011, he became the only Test cricketer to summit Mount Everest. He was also the first from Maori community to represent New Zealand in cricket. A colourful character indeed!

(Bharath Ramaraj, an MBA in marketing, eats, drinks and sleeps cricket. He has played at school and college-level, and now channelises his passion for the game by writing about it)

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